Changes in consumer purchasing practices being driving by the discontinuous changes related to consumer social shopping demands will have a dramatic effect on the supply chain that supports these purchasing practices.  These changes start with increased flexibility and options in purchasing the products and includes a robust product development and demand planning capabilities.  The opportunities and possibilities for obtaining consumer input into these product development and purchasing opportunities will allow the retailer and their supply chain to focus their efforts in areas and products that focus on these consumer input.  The greatest challenge for the retailer will be understanding and supporting these demands in an efficient manner.

 

I see a key challenge to be the product development and product life cycle, both of these cycles will be compressed as the rate of change increases.  Retailers must increase collaboration with suppliers along with expansion of suppliers to allow for swift changes to the inventory supply, both increases and decreases, based on consumer purchasing demands.  The omni channel retail environment squeezes time from the supply chain and consumers demand swift change to meet these demands.  Mobile technology is changing the face of shopping and large retailers must embrace and support these changes in order to survive.  This means short experimental runs of products to confirm the design in addition it means a pipeline for quick turnaround delivery so the sale is not lost. 

 

Mobile technology allows the consumer to take more control of their purchasing and this means that the retailer must evolve and support these demands.  Mobile technology allows the consumer to instantly confirm best price options along with searches and purchases from other retailers when the item they like is not in stock.  Retailers have been fighting a losing battle against this practice when they should embrace and take advantage of the practice by providing additional purchase and delivery options.  The social shopping site concept provides the means for the retailer to connect with the shopping in a way that encourages consumer retention and participation.  This increases the likelihood that consumers will use the shopping site to explore a variety of purchase option along with a variety of product options.

 

Most retailers are currently focused on providing the means for the consumer to purchase any time and any place which is great.  This only focuses on the last third of the process though and requires the consumer to shop and make their purchase decision in another manner.  Providing a site for the consumer to shop closes the loop on the consumer attention cycle and increases the likelihood of completing the purchase form that same retailer.  The success of this strategy is dependent on a robust and flexible collaborative supply chain of partners that can meet the consumer 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 consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s 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?