Logistics Capabilities on e-Commerce Performance: A Study of the University of Phoenix
In evaluating the impact of logistics capabilities on e-Commerce performance for the University of Phoenix several significant insights were gained from the analysis completed. As the university is a services-based organization that strategically designed to get our customers, the students, to their educational and professional goals, the use of logistics is critical to the attainment of that mission. In the studies of best practices in using logistics to increase the efficiency and strengthen the customer experience of service industries, the relationship between exceptional 3rd party logistics (3PL) orchestration, insightful use of analytics for managing supply chains all have a significant positive effect on firm performance (Cho, Ozment, Sink, 2008). For services industries such as our university, a key part of our delivered value is the student experience, the enrichment of their field of study through effective use of limited resources, and the ability to selectively bring in the most valuable resources to learning situations. This triad of factors anchors this analysis: enriching and optimizing the student experience; using resources, both the time of our instructors and facilities themselves, as efficiently as possible; and the ability to optimize resources for student’s attainment of objectives. What emerges from this analysis is a model for the university to use logistics to streamline e-commerce and ensure the highest quality level of student experience is delivered, that constraints of resources are managed, and all time and resources are optimized to the point of performance excellence for each discipline taught.
The Impact of Logistics Capabilities on e-Commerce Performance
For an educational services institution, the measure of its success is primarily in how many students get to their educational and professional objectives. As more students are relying on e-commerce than ever before including distance learning, logistics and its effects on student performance are more relevant than ever. The ability to integrate and synchronize the many diverse systems, processes, goals and constraints of a service organization to challenging and strategic goals is seen across the spectrum of service organizations. Another service organization, United Parcel Service, as devised a series of logistics processes and systems that give this services organization agility in responding to customer service requests yet enough predictability on stabilizing and operating a profitable business (Alghalith, 2005). UPS is a model of logistics coordination with e-commerce systems, all centered on delivering an exceptional customer experience (Alghalith, 2005).
For the University of Phoenix the implications are clear. Logistics’ effects on e-commerce performance are more than just focused on graduating students through classes, it is about enriching the e-commerce and online experience by coordinating the thousands of suppliers and contributors to our university’s mission on a daily basis. Getting beyond cost reduction as a logistics strategy has shown to increase the ability of services businesses to scale (Kumar, Petersen, 2006) while also increasing the level of service quality (Yang, Humphreys, McIvor, 2006). Cost reduction then cannot be the goal of logistics alone in e-commerce; the focus needs to be on accelerating our customers, the students, to their learning objectives. Through a series of optimization strategies that will seek to unify our many processes, systems, suppliers and diverse organizational structure, we can deliver an exceptional student experience online, both from an e-commerce and online learning perspective. The research on using logistics to support e-commerce shows the greatest potential to impact customer satisfaction and loyalty (Kumar, Petersen, 2006).
For the university to create this level of logistics performance that drives customer satisfaction ad loyalty, a services roadmap must be defined that incorporates technologies that can help us achieve these student-centric goals. Mapping logistics technologies to the service strategies and objectives of the university will accelerate our organization to its e-commerce objectives while increasing customer satisfaction (Wells, Phaal, Farrukh, Probert, 2004). Technologies aligned to services objectives can deliver an exceptional increase in e-commerce user experience and customer satisfaction. This ability to streamline the potential student experience online can be augmented and accelerated using logistics systems and providers in the back-office systems of the university to ensure only the most valuable and relevant information and services are provided. The ability to orchestrate a diverse set of information assets to a common vision of service excellence and deliver memorable, valuable experiences to prospects and students alike is critical success factors that can help our university excel even further (Cho, Ozment, Sink, 2008). This aspect of logistics performance on the financial performance of the university is so essential to our growth that it must become a core focus of strategic information technologies (it) planning for our organization to attain its long-term objectives.
A third best practice of integrating logistics to e-commerce operations for a services-based business is the need for unifying the entire organization to strategic prioritization of logistics transparency and speed of execution on each student-facing process. This goes beyond just having the e-commerce site populated with the latest information or the coordination of suppliers who are critical to our success. This best practice seeks to get all logistics and supply chain systems on the same time frame and perception of what is excellent service as our prospects and customers have (Wells, Phaal, Farrukh, Probert, 2004). The ability to transform an organization to at first recognize and then react to the significant differences in how their prospects and customers perceive time is a core requirement of future growth, as it promotes and strengthens customer loyalty based on e-commerce performance (Cho, Ozment, Sink, 2008).
Studies indicate that to the extent a services organization can align their operational performance to the time perceptions of their customers, the overall customer satisfaction levels increase significantly (Yang, Humphreys, McIvor, 2006). Ultimately the use of logistics systems and processes to respect the time of prospects and students alike is one of the best uses of these strategies and a strong inducement of both groups to become loyal users of systems that respect and interpret their time constraints correctly. Logistics must rise about the “good enough” delivery of products and services to fuel e-commerce engines and anticipate then exceed the expectations of customers over time if it is to succeed.
Alghalith, N. (2005). Competing with it: The UPS case. Journal of American Academy of Business, Cambridge, 7(2), 7-15.
Cho, J.J., Ozment, J., & Sink, H. (2008). Logistics capability, logistics outsourcing and firm performance in an e-commerce market. International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, 38(5), 336-359.
Kumar, S., & Petersen, P. (2006). Impact of e-commerce in lowering operational costs and raising customer satisfaction. Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, 17(3), 283-302.
McMann, D., & Hordes, M.W. (2000). Downsizing in the consulting industry. Consulting to Management, 11(2), 51-55.
Usama, a.M., Galal-Edeen, G., & El-Zoghbi, a. (2010). Building an integrated B2B e-commerce hub architecture based on SOA and semantic ontology. Journal of Enterprise Information Management, 23(6), 775-812.
Wells, R., Phaal, R., Farrukh, C., & Probert, D. (2004). Technology roadmapping for a service organization. Research Technology Management, 47(2), 46-51.
Yang, Y., Humphreys, P., & McIvor, R. (2006). Business service quality in an e-commerce environment. Supply Chain Management, 11(3), 195-201.
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