Data's role in economic recovery

The economy is slowly opening up. Red is red. Green is green and as for amber…that’s red, at least as far as the latest government travel guidance is concerned.

Data is going to be absolutely critical in enabling the travel sector to track and anticipate demand, as and when the masses take well-earned sunshine breaks away from the vagaries of UK summertime.

Unlike last year when the sector seemed to be finding excuses to avoid refunding customers, this time, the customer is king. They have the choice to change bookings right up to the last minute and some are even double-booking, as a back-up plan if the country they plan to fly to is reclassified as a red destination.

It is not only the travel sector where customers are voting with their wallets, and making informed choices. It is happening increasingly in the online world. If a product they wish to buy is unavailable from their first choice site, they will make the purchase on another.

Improving ecommerce experience

Speaking at the recent Reuters Supply Chain virtual conference, Nick Basford, vice president, global retail & ecommerce, UPS discussed how ecommerce is changing and is now in its second phase of evolution. “The first was disruption. We’ve catapulted through that.” Basford believes ecommerce has entered a “formative era”, rich with innovation.

UPS’ recent Pulse of the Online Shopper, based on a survey of 10,000 shoppers, found that 15% plan to do all their shopping online now. But, he says: “We are not yet at this optimised phase.”

It is incredibly frustrating when an internet search takes the consumer down a rabbit hole that leads, eventually, to a page that says “out of stock”. Some may offer the option to preorder, but give no firm date as to when the product will ship. Some may present a massive shipping bill at checkout and others fail to mention the customs charges that apply because the product is in a warehouse outside of the country where the consumer resides.

Few ecommerce sites truly understand that their platform is on the worldwide web. It can be seen worldwide. Anyone, anywhere should be able to purchase anything and have it delivered to their home address. Clearly, some products cannot be shipped across international borders, but these are exceptions, not the norm.

What the pandemic has shown is that whether it is travel or retail, people need to be kept informed, every step of the customer journey. For ecommerce, this will involve tight integration across supply chains.

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