Consumers play a critical role in the creation of supply chains, and understanding them is fundamental and one of the most crucial aspects of sourcing. When searching for products to source and configuring one’s supply chain, all roads lead back to the consumer. Even before a buyer – whether a retailer, wholesaler or a branded goods seller, commits to any supplier, makes any transaction or starts looking for products to source online, the first thing that he must do is to know exactly what his market wants and get in the head of his customers.
Consumers are the final buyers and end-users of products, thus, their decisions have a huge impact on one’s production systems and strategies. While it is the marketers’ and salespeople’s job to pitch products, buyers are also responsible in ensuring that the products they offer meet the standards and requirements of their market.
Benefits of knowing your customers
Understanding customers gives buyers a competitive advantage such as:
- Gaining confidence from customers
- Building a solid brand
- Exceeding customer expectations
- Having repeat customers
What you should know about your customers
To be able to source the right products and find the right suppliers for your specific market requirements, it is imperative to know the basics about your customers and answer these questions:
- Who are your customers?
- What do they buy?
- When do they buy? Do they buy on weekends, holidays, office hours, school hours, late night?
- How do they buy? Is it via physical stores or online? Do they pay via cash, phone or credit card?
- What is their motivation for buying what they buy?
- What services irk them the most or love the most?
Customer profiling does not simply end with knowing the basic demographic information. For those new in the business, doing surveys may be the best way to get to know your customers. Having knowledge of psychographic variables such as beliefs, values, perceptions, buying patterns, and lifestyle choices are also valuable.
Use customer engagement tools such as social media networks, live chats, messaging platforms, e-mails, chatbots and web analytics to boost engagement with them.
Once you know the basics about your customers, it’s time to personalize your offerings. Tailor your deals and discounts according to their needs and preferences to foster brand loyalty. And to build long-term relationships, offering loyalty programs will likely keep them engaged and connected, therefore boosting your customer retention rates.