In consumer sector, suppliers most probably come in contact with distributors or middle-men rather than directly to customers. For them, distributors are the actual customers and had to be in contact with them at all the business stages. The direct contact with customer happens very rarely and only in extraordinary situations like extreme complaint or due to some urgency the customer opts to contact suppliers directly. Hence, fast and comprehensive response to customer is very important as the communication happens rarely under urgent circumstances and emotionally charged situations. If the responses are not managed properly the customers have the right and potential to cause damages to supplier in regards to deal and relationship. But inversely, if the responses are efficient and useful then the customers are prone to become business ambassador of the supplier.
Efficient consumer response (ECR) is the key strategy to handle responses and do business in consumer segment. ECR is the technique to work together to understand and deliver consumerâ€™s needs efficiently, faster and at low cost.
There are two basic principles of ECR:
Consumer Focus - For business success, consumer must be provided with demanded and expected products and services. Without focusing on consumers, valid responses cannot be provided. For example, if a consumer deals with pharmaceutical products then the supplier should have in depth knowledge of pharmaceutical domain. If the supplier fails to respond to any of the query or is not able to handle the situation then consumers would rather prefer to divert as they feel unsafe. It is also important to interact with consumers on a regular basis so that they have the feeling of confidence and will feel proud to get supplierâ€™s focus.
Working Together - Various departments opting to work together as a team within an organization yield best consumer value. By working together it becomes easy to overcome all the barriers that are hindering efficiency and effectiveness of the organization. Issues and complaints can be easily interpreted and resolved by working as a team. The strategies and business plan should be shared within all the departments of the organization so as to get feedback on each and every aspect and best and quality response could be provided to consumers.
Efficient consumer response encompasses a supply chain management system. It is a managerial strategy which primarily focuses on consumer demands and follows the whole supply chain process for responding efficiently to that demand. ECR not only deals with responses and operational areas of retail marketing but also provide ways in which suppliers, retailers and third party distributors work together. There are basically two levels of activities that are performed in ECR. The first level is specifically concerned with our topic of discussion i.e. consumer demand and responses. The second level is associated with product supply management. The measure of success of this system is the level of efficiency achieved in customer satisfaction.
The communication between the two parties could happen in any of the three modes i.e. face to face, telephonic and email/fax but it is important for the supplier to judge the responses on quality and comprehensiveness in all the three modes. Hence, the main objective here is always to enhance customer satisfaction and reduce total business cost. Good consumer response is an essential asset for an organization and directly or indirectly helps them to grow substantially in business.