Raj Subramaniam believes this is a pivotal time for ecommerce as the power of AI and machine learning is being combined with the capabilities of a physical network to create end-to-end digital solutions for retailers and their customers.

During a talk at the National Retail Federation’s NRF 2024: Retail’s Big Show he stated online retail sales are expected to reach an annual total of $8tn by 2026, a sum that he added will be laid out by the world’s four billion consumers.

He pointed out all retailers will want to be a part of this $8tn share and turn those four billion consumers into loyal customers.

However, to do this, Subramaniam noted, it is necessary to “optimise the supply chain end-to-end and deliver a better, seamless ecommerce experience.” The idea, he emphasised, is to make supply chains smarter for everyone.

He explained that over the last few years upheavals in global supply tools have reshaped retail and the tools that retailers need to be competitive, efficient and resilient.

“Physical networks get us where we need to be, but digital supply chains make that journey faster, more precise and — equally critical — more seamless. And that’s what consumers expect in this time of anytime, anywhere commerce,” he said.

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Today, he beliees the role in shopping is more than shipping: “It’s also demand. It’s conversion. Fulfilment. Visibility. And, of course, returns. Currently, companies must rely on several separate solutions to manage all aspects of their ecommerce business.”

He sees this siloed approach as costly, inefficient and causes a disjointed customer experience — making it difficult to differentiate and scale in market.

Consumers expect transparency

Subramaniam underscored the importance of transparency, saying that real-time tracking is no longer a benefit but an expectation.

FedEx‘s figures suggests that 94% of consumers expect companies to inform them about delays before they have to ask. Subramaniam noted: “Many shoppers are willing to accept a delayed delivery, if they are informed about it before the final delivery date.”

He shared how FedEx combines package information with learned patterns from across its network to predict shipment success, adding that companies can leverage this information to notify customers of “at-risk” shipments right away so they can make informed decisions and communicate alternative options.

In addition to this, he highlighted that options are also essential when it comes to returns, with 96% of consumers stating they would shop again with a brand offering an easy returns policy.

Subramaniam continued: “A streamlined returns experience empowers customers to purchase more with lower risk and ensures inventory is back on the shelf quickly and efficiently.”

He also shared FedEdx is launching a new platform called fdx later this year. He described as “the first data-driven commerce platform to connect the entire customer journey, making it easier for companies to grow demand, increase conversion, optimise fulfilment and streamline returns.”