E-commerce is just one way that the digital age is impacting the supply chains of companies, according to Supply Management. Internet-connected products in general will potentially disrupt and change the way that consumers and organizations view supply and demand. New technology is running rampant through the supply chain, from programs that improve logistical information, to sensors that monitor a consumer's use of a product.
Michael Burkett, vice president at Garner, told Supply Management that leaders must design their supply chains and organizations to operate in the digital business world - meeting the volatile and fluctuating demand and expectations that Internet marketing has created. While the predictions sound ominous, there are plenty of ways that supply chains can use the Internet, big data and e-commerce to their advantage.
Organizations Must Move as Quickly as Consumers
With the Internet, consumers are looking for near up-to-the minute information regarding products. They expect questions and complaints to be answered more quickly and are also using online purchasing practices for a great number of items. Customers no longer view e-commerce as a way to order non-essential items that can take days or weeks to arrive. They want to know if the merchandise is in stock at the time they order it and want to receive it as soon as possible.
They also expect products to be updated and improved more quickly following a problem. This means entire supply chain processes must able to change faster than ever. For manufacturers and distributors, the supply chain must react to consumer expectations and demand in real time. Automated data collection tools are essential to making this happen.
Collecting and analyzing supply chain data at an organization with paper-based systems is essentially obsolete in the digital age. By the time the data is collected and accessed and errors are corrected, consumer expectations will have already changed. The only way to keep up with demand is to arm employees with the tools and software that can allow an organization to respond as quickly as consumers do.
When these new systems integrate directly with ERP software, it can help the entire organization adapt to the needs of the digital consumer. As all aspects of business become more associated with digital technologies, automated data collection will be the only way that organizations can keep pace.