Hi-tech manufacturers are waking up to the strategic importance of the aftermarket and reverse logistics as a competitive differentiator, according to a study by arvato and Deloitte.
The study involved personal interviews with executives at 25 global high-tech companies focusing on the current status as well as future priorities of the aftermarket and reverse logistics strategies.
The most frequently mentioned trend in after-sales and reverse logistics (24 per cent of interviewees) was the trend for replacements or swap instead of repair, driven by both declining product prices in consumer electronics together with increasing transport and processing costs for repair.
The report also identified the rising importance of social media in after-sales strategies including using user-communities, Facebook and twitter to perform first-level support tasks.
Changing consumer behaviour was also highlighted as increased device usage, interconnectivity and higher user dependency are all making the returns and repair processes a more involved and urgent event for end users.
The most common pain points highlighted were the setting up and managing of aftermarket and reverse logistics operations in emerging markets and the increasing challenge associated with the requirement to provide fast and efficient delivery of spare parts globally.
While in past years cost efficiencies were the most important objective in after-sales strategies, the report found that this had now been replaced by customer satisfaction as a main objective.
The study found that high-tech companies are increasing their efforts in e-channel solutions and social media to further improve and integrate customer interaction and to help them gain greater control of the returns process as early as possible in the returns cycle.
“The study results are consistent with our experience,” said Marcus Karten VP global business development at arvato Hightech. “Best-in-class aftermarket services are now an essential element for high-tech companies to differentiate themselves from their competitors and ensure successful long-term brand loyalty in the marketplace.”
Having anticipated these trends, arvato Hightech invested into their global locations of reverse logistics & spare parts hubs and an integrated Aftermarket IT systems to serve IT, CE and telecommunication companies.