This drive and focus of consumers on the shopping capabilities rather than the market channel is made up of three major contributors; consumers, retailers and the supply chain.  I have focused previously on the initial two contributors; consumers and retailers because it is vital for retailers to understand and embrace the changing marketplace and consumer practices.  The third contributor, supply chain, provides retailers with the execution capabilities that will determine the success of the retailers. After all, it doesn’t matter that a retailer is highly tuned to the needs and desires of the consumer if that retailer cannot deliver the goods.  The supply chain network supporting these needs is also a very complex network of partners, services and capabilities.

This network must be formed and nurtured to meet a common strategy supporting the sales demands of the consumer.  These demands and supply chain requirements will be revised according to the delivery demands of the consumer. The limitations of these services are based solely on the imagination of the consumer and the supply chain partners.  These demands require a highly collaborative network of supply chain service providers that are focused on meeting the demands of the consumer.  This requires a primary focus on the demands of the consumers and not a focus on the individual success of any one partner.  The success of the supply chain in this new environment depends on the collaboration of services across the partner network. 

This focus on partnership will allow the network to meet the demands of the consumer, or the end customer, to ensure the success of the the entire chain from the raw materials to the end consumer.  This requires that the network strategy focus on the true end customer, the consumer, and each partner in the chain can then focus on how the strengths of the individual partner can be utilized to meet those end requirements. This is performed by what I would define as a classic business process modeling exercise of the entire supply chain, including the end consumer.  While this may be a classic exercise, the focus is anything but classic due to the continuous change that is driven into the requirements and process and the range of contributing factors on these processes. 

The retailer is the ‘face’ to the consumer of their shopping outlet and the supply chain is the ‘body’ of this shopping outlet.  The supply chain provides the support and services that are the result of the consumer shopping from the initial delivery, through any channel, through the potential return of the purchase back into the retail supply chain.  The demands of the consumer are driven by the imagination and tools available to the consumer.  The velocity of this change cycle can be overwhelming and requires a strong collaborative network to support these demands.

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?