Harry Joiner, a marketing recruiter and good friend, asked me to comment on his blog regarding what a VP of eCommerce or VP Marketing candidate should be asked or should answer regarding shipping & delivery logistics. Here's what I said...
As you know, I believe word of mouth is the most powerful form of marketing and sustainable growth. So, a VP of marketing candidate needs to have an appreciation for the overall customer experience.
Shipping logistics are a huge part of that experience. You can weight the satisfaction and loyalty impact of each part of the customer experience – researching products, buying, receiving and using a product (support). The weight of impact is correlated to the the emotional residual for that part of the experience.
Shopping and research is a relatively forgettable experience, unless there is severe frustration. The buying experience is overshadowed with the emotional weight of the receiving and the out of box experience, as well as resolving customer service and support issues (downstream activities). Amazon is consistent with shipping and logistics. Apple and Chumby have great out of the box experiences.
So, word of mouth and branding (and thus, top line revenue over the long term) are driven from upstream decisions (great products, packaging) and downstream logistics (shipping, service, support).
A great VP of marketing should realize they have to balance between immediate, short term tactics to drive revenue and the sustainable long-term activities that may even be out of his direct control. In this case, marketing is a "chief accountability officer" and has to champion improvements and investments in the overall customer experience. You can no longer mask logistical and service blemishes with good midstream activities (marketing/advertising).
One last point on logistics, as it relates to online. Nearly every customer utilizes tools to check status, manage returns, and resolve customer service issues. Amazon and Zappos do the best job I've seen of integrating their logistics with online content and functionality. A strong candidate will understand the need to look at things from a customer task / customer process perspective and make sure that they build it from there back to the logistics team. Technical and political savvy are very helpful assets to accomplish a great customer experience...and thus a great brand.