‘The customer is always right’ has never been a truer phrase, as today’s consumers reign an increasing amount of power over our internet retailers (e-tailers). Long gone are the days where retailers could simply stock the bare necessities; instead they are now forced to provide seemingly unlimited and unique products with flexible delivery, falling in-line of course with selfishly ceaseless consumer expectations.
It seems that as fast as technology is developing, supply chain processes must also follow suit. Technological advances and consumer behaviour it seems go together, and are part and parcel of the need for more optimised Supply-Chains.
The fast-paced development of smart-devices and e-commerce has had a dramatic impact on the supply chain, and will foreseeably continue to do so. Today’s consumers seem to possess an insatiable desire for speed, convenience, and choice, which in turn has metamorphised into the hastened development of bigger and better supply chain processes, to enable retailers to readily deliver upon their increasing promises to consumers.
In this Supply-Chain survival of the fittest, A ‘Prime’ example of e-tailer adaptation to environment was introduced in 2005. A proposed new supply chain process; a way to facilitate delivery around the consumer’s needs, as opposed to solely the needs of the business. From the utopian vision of a future of timely-executed fast, and free super-saver delivery, ‘Amazon Prime’ was born.
Placing significantly more pressure on the Supply-Chain process, the priority it seems for Amazon and many other e-retailers, is to now focus less on their business’s needs and profitability, and more on their need to meet consumer demands, at seemingly, any cost.
Today, manufacturers are being forced to re-evaluate their chosen logistics processes to retain their competitive edge; seeking the right partner to help them implement best practice processes. Amazon found that they’re able to offer their Prime service; as increased sales consequentially allow them to provide significantly lower cost, fast-shipping.
With services, such as Amazon Prime significantly enhancing customer experience,and their future plans to offer a frightfully fast 13-minute click-to-drone delivery; some may ask whether retailers cleverly been cuckolded into nurturing and encouraging ever-greater consumer demands for immediacy.
Always one step ahead, Amazon has further familiarised themselves with the ever-changing face of e-commerce and Supply-Chain processes, and successfully launched their first air delivery in December 2016; questioning whether future autonomous aerial delivery could be a viable business option in the near future.
It appears that retailers may have unwittingly helped to create their own logistical nightmare; where consequentially, being quick and convenient no longer makes you stand-out in the crowd of consumerism.
The convenient era of e-commerce resonates loudly within the increasingly busy lives of so many of today’s consumers. With customer expectations, ever-increasing and technology enabling consumers greater access to information; evolving consumer behaviour is swiftly shaping the demand placed on the supply chain, a trend that will continue in 2017, and for many more years to come.
Without considering how it will be achieved, consumers are now and will continue to demand more and more from e-tailers and the supply chain, including orders without of error, a greater range of available products at the best price, and expect them all to be delivered in record time.
This defiant succession of e-commerce and technology enabling new forms of commerce and retail, imposes a need for larger warehouse stocks and inventories, in turn creating the need for greater control of inventory management and movement of stock. Logistics professionals are now being endlessly encouraged to implement more sustainable and forward-thinking solutions to succeed in the Logistics Industry throughout 2017 and beyond.
(The author is Marketing Executive for Gideon Hillman Consulting)