The world economy is worth more than US$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 change. Developments in e-commerce and social media technologies are constantly shifting our expectations and buying habits, 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 fulfilment. 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, distributors – have to embrace our needs by delivering a unified story across all sales channels, providing a consistently superior experience at every touch point. All allied with an integrated back-office model utilising agile and innovative technology to make sure they turn a profit.
The key to catering to this new consumer behaviour is the common factor behind all products - the supply chain.
The new fulfilment arms race
Businesses selling to this new consumer are locked in a fulfilment arms race regardless of their operating maturity or geographical market and sector. The 24/7 Digital Customer expects to get their product their way. Sometimes they want it shipped to their home, 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 not conceived of – or are attempting and failing to address –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 instant flop.
This is where supply chain technology comes in. The next generation of applications are bringing 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 optimisation of a business' supply chain by delivering accurate and real-time information, all built for today's mobile work force.