VP of Marketing Responsible for Shipping & Logistics?


Harry Joiner, a marketing recruiter and good friend, asked me to comment on
his blog regarding what a VP of eCommerce or VP Marketing candidate should be
asked or should answer regarding shipping & delivery logistics. Here’s what I said…


As you know, I believe word of mouth is the most powerful form of marketing
and sustainable growth. So, a VP of marketing candidate needs to have an
appreciation for the overall customer experience.

Shipping logistics are a huge part of that experience. You can weight the
satisfaction and loyalty impact of each part of the customer experience –
researching products, buying, receiving and using a product (support). The
weight of impact is correlated to the the emotional residual for that part of
the experience.

Shopping and research is a relatively forgettable experience, unless there
is severe frustration. The buying experience is overshadowed with the emotional
weight of the receiving and the out of box experience, as well as resolving
customer service and support issues (downstream activities). Amazon is
consistent with shipping and logistics. Apple and Chumby have great out of the
box experiences.

So, word of mouth and branding (and thus, top line revenue over the long
term) are driven from upstream decisions (great products, packaging) and
downstream logistics (shipping, service, support).

A great VP of marketing should realize they have to balance between
immediate, short term tactics to drive revenue and the sustainable long-term
activities that may even be out of his direct control. In this case, marketing
is a "chief accountability officer" and has to champion improvements
and investments in the overall customer experience. You can no longer mask
logistical and service blemishes with good midstream activities

One last point on logistics, as it relates to online. Nearly every customer
utilizes tools to check status, manage returns, and resolve customer service
issues. Amazon and Zappos do the best job I’ve seen of integrating their
logistics with online content and functionality. A strong candidate will
understand the need to look at things from a customer task / customer process
perspective and make sure that they build it from there back to the logistics
team. Technical and political savvy are very helpful assets to accomplish a
great customer experience…and thus a great brand.

6 Responses

  1. Marketing Interviews: “Does Logistics Matter?”

    ATLANTA, GA – My brother Eric’s weblog, Freightdawg, is one of the best known logistics blogs in America. This week, Eric wrote a great post called Retail Economy: It’s War Out There! which claimed that … Retail sales for the

  2. Hi Sam,
    Thanks for the shout out.
    It’s so funny: Without even knowing it, my dad and Dan Kennedy (see DanKennedy.com) have had very similar experiences with fulfillment and customer satisfaction / brand perception.
    My dad co-founded a company called AJC International. See AJCFood.com. This year they’ll do $850 million in frozen food sales to 124 countries. Basically, they sell full truckloads of frozen protein (beef, chicken, pork, etc) to foreign foodservice distributors and retailers.
    I used to work there, and in 1997 I bought $15 million worth of frozen beef and pork for my own trading account — and sold $26 million worth of product in total. Early to rise, haggling with packers for a penny a pound times 150K lbs at a clip — Up all night, hustling frozen pork stomachs and tripe to Asian distributors. I had a ball.
    Whenever the market would soften while a container was in transit, my clients would try to short pay my invoice on the grounds that there was something wrong with the meat. There rarely was.
    Dad always called this phenomenon “market disease.” Tens of thousands of dollars were involved. Sometimes more. This was big ticket B2B sales and trading, and clients didn’t want to hear about complications with logistics, financeing, cold storage problems, inattentive health inspectors, etc. Once they pulled the trigger to buy, they wanted the product NOW.
    Back to Dan Kennedy — one of the kings of DTC direct mail selling: Kennedy has often said in his tapes that customers will drag their feet when thinking about your product, but once they finally decide to buy, they want it yesterday.
    And Kennedy was adamant that even the best “stick letter” won’t make up for a late shipment. He says that asking a customer to “allow six to eight weeks for delivery” is utter bullshit. Nowadays saying that to a prospect would simply kill the deal.
    Bottom line: In both B2B and DTC, world-class logistics is such a “non-negotiable” these days that marketers take for granted that it matters. They take their eye off the ball because they assume that logistics is a given, and that everyone in the organization gives 110% because “customers have options.” Of course, “cost center” people rarely care about the customer.
    The reality (according to my dad) is that …
    1.) “Employees don’t do what you expect. They do what you inspect.” And …
    2.) “The best run organizations reward people based on their contribution to the company’s TOP line — and devise simple compensation systems where the drivers are posted publicly.”
    At AJC and Dell (two Temples of Self Interest!), good logistics is rewarded and bad logistics is penalized. Actually penalized — on an individual paycheck level. So the quality of every job is “self-inspected” to a satisfaction level that will be rewarded by the customer.
    Moral of the story: Logistics matters to customers, so make it matter to employees.
    The stockholders will catch your enthusiasm for it later on.
    Kind regards,
    Harry Joiner

  3. Sam and Harry,
    That’s a really great way of looking at it. You really can’t separate out customer loyalty from an online shopping experience. And an online shopping experience can have a “make or break” impact, depending on when the products they’ve purchased show up and how they show up.
    Case in point… Last summer, Amazon had to replace several book orders sent to my home because they use U.S. mail with no signature requirement. As a result, the packages would be left on the porch by the mail carrier, and deluged by typical South Florida monsoons. Even a plastic bag inside didn’t help. Amazon “eats” the loss (self-insuring). I’m annoyed and roll my eyes at how Amazon doesn’t know that this is a HUGE issue in South Florida 4-5 months of the year. Paying a few cents extra for signature required would’ve saved the customer.
    So yes, this is DEFINITELY something a VP of eCommerce or VP Marketing should look into.
    Joshua Feinberg

  4. International Recruiting for Online Retail

    NEW YORK, NY – Last Friday’s Wall Street Journal had a nice article about US online retailers trying to develop foreign markets in an effort to assuage (a $3 word) the effects of a softening domestic retail market. All I

  5. Beth says:

    What a great post, this is a goldmine of information and could easily be adapted to make a check list or ’10 things you need….’ aricle. I’ve been using Aaron Brandon’s “BlogCast Course” to help with my online marketing and article writing.
    You have definately posted some good stuff here, if you don’t mind me saying you could make a product form it.

  6. Interesting article.
    People rarely separate the product from the shipping experience they receive.
    The logistics can make or break a good products reputation.
    A wise marketing team will take this into consideration.

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