The eCommerce supply chain from the raw materials to the end consumers’ table is an area of great change that requires extreme flexibility and collaboration across all partners in the chain in order to meet the consumers’ requirements and succeed.  The supply chain must reflect and support the sales requirements or the entire process is a failure.  In this case, the last mile truly is the critical chain in the link.  The level of flexibility also requires a high level of collaboration in order to meet the consumer requirements.  This collaboration truly will require a give and take across partners in order to succeed as a whole.

I want to highlight in this discussion that I refer to meeting the consumers’ requirements rather than the consumers’ needs.  This is because the basic needs of the consumer can be met by delivering the product in a timely manner and in usable condition.  This however will never succeed in the market because the consumer requires the product to be delivered at their desired time and date to meet their schedule.  The consumer also requires notification of the delivery schedule to allow them to plan for arrival.  These are minimum requirements only however and will not stand for long in the discontinuous change of the omni channel marketplace.

The eCommerce supply chain will also be a consumer of big data analytics from the raw materials to the end consumers’ table.  Big data demand planning and forecasting analytics will improve the manufacturing process to support filling product orders.  Big data sales and delivery analytics will support the development of the supply chain network to deliver the products to staging facilities across the entire market to support fulfillment and delivery of product orders.  Big data returns, or reverse logistics analytics will support the development of the reverse logistics support strategy along with the forecast and planning required to reintroduce the products to the inventory to sell again in addition to the analytics to define the impact on the manufacturing process.

I have only scratched the surface of each of these topics in this discussion to provide an overview of the complexity of the challenge.  This also highlights the requirement of flexibility and collaboration across the entire supply chain the meet the requirements of the consumer.  This also highlights the need to focus on the consumer requirements rather than the consumer needs.  It is important in this changing retail environment to analyze to understand the consumers’ desires and requirements to drive the supply chain capabilities.  I think that it is too easy for the supply chain to produce a solution that fits into their existing capabilities rather than delivering what the consumer truly desires. As competition increases and the number of players continues to decline the only attitude that will succeed is the razor focus on the consumer.


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumers’ experience?  Improving the consumers experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?