Customers are seeing products, solutions, and services through a new lens – a lens that is continuing to evolve and likely to have a lasting effect on long-term behavioral trends.
As part of a Q&A series, Samsung employees across business areas share their views on what customers’ new expectations, needs and priorities are; how they plan to meet their evolved demands; and which habits are here to stay.
1. Has your customer’s expectations, behaviors, and priorities evolved in this new environment? If so, how?
We’re seeing unprecedented demand for consumer TVs and our retail partners rely on us to maintain a steady supply of product. There has also been amplified demand for longer term supply visibility and we’ve seen a new willingness from our partners to provide us with an extended commitment horizon to secure product. Simultaneously, this is putting even more pressure on our operations to execute flawlessly every step of the way. Basically, “On Time, In Full” expectations have never been higher.
2. How are you responding to meet the changing needs of your customer?
At the onset of the crisis in the U.S. and abroad, we had to develop contingency plans for possible factory and supplier closures in Mexico. We flexed rapidly to execute quick production and export to our U.S. warehouses and, with an assist from our Global Operations office, we were able to secure additional production space in factories in Europe and Asia.
SEA TV supply chain management has always had a close partnership with other working groups. But now more than ever, we’re actively engaging more closely on a daily basis with our primary factory, Product Marketing, Corporate Affairs, Logistics, Global Operations, Sales, and Collaborative Planning, Forecasting and Replenishment teams.
Now, there’s heavy micromanagement involved in our daily operations. Our vendors have become more reliant on Samsung and there’s an increase in requests for information exchange. I often think of our Production, Sales & Inventory team as air traffic control; operationally, we’re the middleman for integral data points to and from so many other departments.
Historically, the summer months have been a time when we could recharge, re-evaluate process, and strategize for holiday season execution. But this year, we’ve experienced the momentum we typically see in November and December since March with no signs of letting up. We’ve had to navigate through roadblocks faster and implement new processes on the fly. We’ve executed expanded back-end functionality for Samsung.com, and are working with some key partners to grow e-commerce assortments and drive online business. We’re also in the midst of redesigning planning platforms to encompass updated metrics that further align shipment plans. And we’ve also been monitoring demand signals closely to ensure that we are prepared to react appropriately. I’m so proud of my teammates for digging in and making it happen while navigating a new work-from-home (WFH) environment. They are all rock stars!
We’re reminding each other to eat regularly, take our vitamins, wear personal protective equipment, stay safe, and get some rest when we can. Wellness of fellow colleagues is top-of-mind
3. How are you keeping your customers and colleagues safe while playing a reimagined role in customers’ lives?
Online/e-commerce business transactions have accelerated as consumers demand and the current environment requires a contactless shopping experience. As such, we’ve focused on driving replenishment on our own platform, as well as those of our retail partners.
On a micro level, our team has been utilizing web conferencing for virtual teams and daily interdepartmental meetings. During these discussions, we’re reminding each other to eat regularly, take our vitamins, wear personal protective equipment, stay safe, and get some rest when we can. Wellness of fellow colleagues is top-of-mind.
4. Which new habits and behaviors do you anticipate will continue in the long run?
I certainly think that virtual conferencing tools are here to stay and we’ll be seeing a reduction in business travel. These tools have given us the ability to “fly” all over the world within the span of one day.
I also sense that our customers will continue to ask us to be engaged with them in a very “micro-dynamic” way. We’ll need to continuously evaluate our sourcing patterns for finished goods. Greater diversification of sourcing could be an important tool to combat regionalized shutdowns.
5. Will their new and potentially everlasting behaviors transform the industry’s future?
We’ve collectively been thinking a lot about what the holiday sales season looks like this year. Does it even exist anymore? Will it ever exist again? As many consumers have been quarantined for months and are shifting their spending habits to their homes right now, will there be a need/want to buy CE products in Q4? I’m very interested to see how this will play out…imagine no day after Thanksgiving sales?! That would be truly transformational.