A LinkedIn Group discussion got my attention this week. The question posed is “What is next after supply chain?” English is not the first language of the gentleman that posed the question so the majority of respondents took it to mean “Where do we go from here with respect to supply chains?” There are nearly 300 comments and counting which must be some kind of record for our industry.
The Consumer is Demanding
My take is that it’s time to say goodbye to supply chains and welcome the new era of demand chains. The consumer is in the driving seat and she is demanding free delivery, same day delivery, pick-up in one hour, take it back to the store even though she bought it online, and the list goes on… It’s our job to keep her happy.
What the Industry Thinks They Should Do About It
Here are some of the responses from the rest of the group.
“Relentlessly improve current supply chains to gain even greater cost efficiencies”
In other words let’s just keep on “keepin’ on” but make it cheaper.
“Big Data, better IT and software automation to build adaptive operating models for greater flexibility”
Big technology is inevitable and a prerequisite to develop the processes needed to meet consumer expectations.
“Bring finished goods closer to the customer with satellite distribution/manufacturing hubs.”
This is happening already.
Transloading facilities such as ourselves provide warehousing and distribution services to manufacturers/shippers placing finished goods closer to their customers. 3D printing technology is advanced enough now for manufacturers to build finished goods at multiple satellite locations close to major markets.
“The future is omni-channel fulfillment providing the consumer multiple channels for receipt of purchases.”
Retailers are already investing heavily in their e-commerce infrastructure driven in part by significant online sales growth. Order online and pick it up at the store, you can’t get more convenient than that.
Goodbye Supply Chain – Hello Demand Chain
Which one of the above strategies is going to win out? The answer is all of the above. The question now becomes can shippers and 3PL companies partner effectively, rise to the challenge and provide the creative logistics required, no, demanded, by today’s consumer?
I’m very optimistic. What do you think? Share your comments below.