The world economy is worth more than U.S. $70 trillion a year, and the products that we buy and consume daily make up a third of this figure. All these products have one thing in common: a supply chain.Changing consumer behaviour
Our shopping habits and expectations as consumers have changed over time, and they continue to do so. Developments in e commerce and social media technologies are continually shifting our expectations and buying habits. We now expect compelling in-venue and store technology, an 'always on' 24/7 customer service, real time insight into product availability, and consistent prices across sellers' channels.
Always on the go, we demand engaging content tailored to our personal needs and devices, as well as easy access and fast fulfillment; in other words, what we want, when we want, how we want.
The Rise Of The 24/7 Digital Customer
To respond, sellers, retailers, brands, manufacturers, and distributors have to embrace our needs by delivering a unified story across all sales channels, providing a consistently superior experience at every touchpoint; allied with an integrated back-office model utilizing agile and innovative technology to make sure they turn a profit.
The key to catering to this new consumer behavior is the common factor behind all products - the supply chain.
The New Fulfillment Arms Race
Businesses selling to this new consumer are locked in a fulfillment arms race, regardless of their operating maturity, geographical market, or sector. The 24/7 Digital Customer expects to get their product their way. Sometimes they want it shipped to their home, and sometimes they want to pick it up at a store or on the journey home from a locker at the train station.
They are willing to wait for free delivery for the right product at the right price, but the expectation of how long it should take to arrive is shrinking rapidly, and then of course if they're not satisfied with the product they might send it back.
Most businesses have been slow to recognize the implications of these new consumer expectations to supply chains, and the requirements needed to meet this shifting demand effectively and efficiently, never mind the complexity of having to manage a global supply chain to get the product to market in the first place!
Supply Chain Technology
Every day, 24/7, digital customers are broadcasting real time demand signals worldwide, with tweets, likes, hashtags, and star ratings. A product can be an instant hit or an instant flop, and this is where supply chain technology comes in. The next generation of applications brings together the latest in big data and mobile technologies, making it easier for businesses not only to manage their end-to-end supply chains but also to take advantage of increasingly volatile consumer preferences.
The key to meeting the demands of the new 24/7 Digital Customer, is technology which simplifies the planning, execution, and optimization of a business' supply chain, by delivering accurate and real time information, all built for today's mobile workforce.