An editor with Inbound Logistics recently asked me to provide an answer for the magazine’s regular “Good Question” feature: “Has supply chain impatience gotten out of hand?” My answer along with responses from several other supply chain industry executives appears in the August issue. However, I’ll spare you the suspense. Here’s what I contributed:
“Yes, but there's no changing that fact. Consumers are the new bosses. They demand a consistent shopping experience and traceability. Embrace supply chain visibility or the new boss will fire you.”
The editor tied the question to a poll of the magazine’s Twitter followers. Ninety-five percent of respondents agreed that supply chain impatience is out of hand, and I must admit, I was one of them. However, I also believe that there is no going back. Choices for quicker, and more convenient delivery options are offered to consumers continually; they can access a brand wherever, and whenever they want through any device; they don’t see separate channels, but they do demand a consistent, seamless shopping experience.
Shift The Focus
Instead of asking whether impatience has gotten out of hand, let’s briefly examine what can be done to meet the demands of this new boss, without allowing costs to skyrocket.
Firstly, recognize that the days of linear supply chains are gone. The convergence of physical, and digital commerce through the consumer’s buy anywhere/deliver anywhere/return anywhere shopping journey, requires a rethink of supply chains.
Next, get serious about establishing true end-to-end supply chain visibility. I am not talking just about being able to see where a shipment is at any given time, but being able to communicate to the consumer in real time, accurate information of what inventory is available, where it is in the world, and when it’s available. In this way, if they place an order online for pickup in the local store or train station, they know it will be waiting for them when they want it to be.
First Place Always Wins
To put it in simple terms, the companies that are first to recognize that their supply chains need to change, and then establish end-to-end supply chain visibility, will be the winners.
Check my recent post, End to End Supply Chain Visibility: Key to Supply Chain ROI, to learn how your business can leverage return on investment in supply chain visibility.