The retail supply chain is going through the same types of upheaval as retail purchasing channels driven by changing demands of consumers.  The changes disrupting the retail marketplace are rippling out through the entire supply chain.  In addition, suppliers are also expanding to interact directly with consumers in ways that were not previously anticipated.  All of these consumer demands are converging and driving ripples of disruption throughout the retail supply chain.  Retail supply chain partners face the same challenges resulting from the velocity and discontinuous nature of the changing consumer demands that retailers have been experiencing.  The retail supply chain partners must now focus on an agile supply chain to meet these changing demands.


In addition to the changing consumer demands, the retail supply chain must deal with an almost overwhelming level of data and information that results from the consumer direct and indirect interactions with retail outlets.  The value of the extended interaction and connectivity with consumers and retail partners is the data that can be collected to analyze trends and plans while the challenge of the extended interaction is determining how to deal with the data that is collected.  Extended supply chain partners including and especially the suppliers are in a great position to gain value through data analysis due to the volume and variety of data that is available to the extended supply  from a variety of retail and direct consumer interaction.  This data is a critical factor and mechanism for the extended supply chain partners and especially the suppliers to understand, recognize and even focus disruption events and factors. 


Another challenge for the supply chain is to support variations on demands from all of their retail partners.  This brings another level of complication and requirements for increases the need to focus on agile capabilities rather than only lean capabilities to support this wide range of demands.  While this may be an intimidating prospect for supply chain partners that interact and support a range of retailers, it is also a great opportunity for these supply chain partners to increase their value to the chain by providing a means to measure cross market consumer practices and consumer demands.  This cross market, or omni market information can provide a means for retailers to potentially forecast and prepare for consumer changing consumer demands. 


This beginning of supply chain disruption will ripple across all markets increasing the level of disruption and also the importance of agility in meeting the changing demands for all partners across the supply chain.  This will be creating an omni market viewpoint of consumer demands across all retail markets from apparel to electronics to groceries and the cross market data that can be collected and provided for analysis by the extended supply chain partners will be invaluable to the retailers ability to identify and support 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?