The supply chain is an industry transformed by socio-economic growth and the day-to-day behavior of consumers. In a time where rapid advancements in technology occur daily, the logistics behind supply chain management are also changing.
Transparency is now more important than ever to the consumer. A trend in favor of online shopping has created a culture of instant information and demand. New platforms from which to acquire goods are introduced by the minute, establishing a level of connectivity not ever seen before.
At the heart of these changes stands the consumer, who through modern technology and social media channels continues to shape the future of the supply chain industry.
A seemingly endless amount of purchasing platforms are available to consumers at any one time. This means you could purchase your groceries in-store, over the phone, online from your laptop or via an application on your iPad. Shopping across multiple platforms presents a number of challenges for supply chain professionals.
The most notable of these is the efficient monitoring of stock as it travels from the warehouse to the store, onward to the customer and back again. It is now commonplace to find an iPad within a retail store that facilitates online orders and store transfers as part of the ‘in-store’ experience. This solution reflects a change in agility and speed for the supply chain industry, whereby professionals must be able to accurately track larger quantities of goods as they travel further and faster than ever.
The pressure on the supply chain to continue to achieve high standards undoubtedly stems from an increased favor for online shopping. Retailers such as ASOS, who operate online exclusively, have helped establish a new type of consumer changing the industry.
This modern shopper expects an experience that is fast and faultless from their virtual basket to their doorstep. It is up to supply chain professionals to deliver and monitor this in order to maintain efficiency and consumer trust. Perhaps one of the most impacts of online shopping is on shipping, where it is now expected that goods can be delivered quickly, safely and at the lowest possible cost, if not for free.
This expectation of instant demand and satisfaction is born of a consumer who has a broad knowledge of the market and products available. One error in stocktake or an order delivery could cost businesses multiple customers for life, a reality for all companies out there.
Consumer use of social media channels has major implications for the supply chain, drastically increasing the transparency and connectivity of the industry worldwide. Millions of people are connecting online and the different media platforms can make or break your business, leaving no room for error.
Social media presents a unique opportunity for supply chain professionals to access real-time feedback. A single click on the Twitter page of a retailer could reveal a lost customer order, complaint about the arrival time or a positive review of the updated purchasing application.
This has enhanced the transparency of the industry completely, as consumers utilise social channels to connect with brands, who in turn produce content to reflect this. It is commonplace for businesses to share ‘behind the scenes’ pictures and anecdotes across these platforms. This more transparent system enables companies to accurately predict and gain insight into consumer trends. And as social media continues to grow and change our day to day industry, so too does the opportunity for supply chain innovation.
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.