Wednesday, March 16, 2016
How Consumers Are Transforming Supply Chain
For an industry that is transformed by the everyday behaviour of consumers, supply chain should not only respond to socio-economic growth, but help to facilitate it. In this digital age, supply chain systems are of much greater importance to the consumer.
A movement towards online shopping, coupled with improved social connectivity and technology has led to a culture of instant demand and satisfaction. In order to understand exactly how the industry is being changed by this, it is necessary to acknowledge the impact of the consumer.
The Online Shopper
The significant shift from an in-store demand to online shopping is having an incredible impact on the supply chain process for retailers. This completely new type of shopper desires a seamless experience from the basket to their doorstep.
They have a broad knowledge of the market and a heightened interest in the supply chain. It is a consumer that expects to know where the product is coming from, how it is made and the amount left in stock. Above all, they want to know these things now.
Retailers must operate under the weight of this expectation, where one error in stocktake or product quality could cost them a customer for life. In a world where consumers can purchase anything they want, from whichever company they choose, it is up to supply chain professionals to help position brands to deliver an unrivalled experience.
Perhaps the largest impact on supply chain from Gen Y is a sense of instant demand and satisfaction. If Jack wants a new couch for his apartment, he could search and buy one during his lunch break. With orders placed in a matter of minutes, and all through an app on his phone, Jack could kit out his entire residence in an afternoon.
These products are then expected to arrive in a timely manner, by which I mean a short number of days. It is this increasing standard that continues to shape the supply chain industry into one that is faster, more agile and able to overcome problems.
The delivery of goods and services is a prime example of this. Companies compete with shipping that is cheap and quick, if not free. Consumers also demand the ability to track the process of the products until the final moment of delivery. This has forced businesses to pay careful attention to their supply chain system. If even a minor delay occurs, it has to be dealt with swiftly, before the consumer cancels their order and buys from the competition.
Social media channels are often described as a double edged sword, and not without good reason. When used correctly, they can propel a business onto the world stage almost overnight. But with more than 1.7 billion people across the globe connecting online, even the smallest error in judgement could spell disaster.
These platforms offer a unique opportunity for supply chain professionals to access real-time feedback. A single click onto the company Facebook page could reveal a lost customer order, complaint about the purchasing experience or glowing recommendation, laid out for the world to see.
This has transformed the supply chain industry completely, where a more transparent system means that companies can predict demand, gain insight into consumer trends and ultimately use social media to establish a more efficient process. As more consumers take to the internet to share, discuss and interact with the brands they buy from, monitoring supply chain interactions and identifying innovations have never been easier.
Helen Sabell works for the College for Adult Learning, she is passionate about adult and lifelong learning. She has designed, developed and authored many workplace leadership and training programs, both in Australia and overseas. Helen also works with a select group of organisations consulting in People Management & Development, Education and Change.