In his story “Supply Chain Predictions for 2015” our own Michael Martz looked at topics including big data, robotics, drones, and the Internet of Things. I agree that all those expanding technologies will have significant impacts on everyone in the supply chain in the coming years. But I also think that the most significant issue we will see this year will be something prognosticators tend to disregard.
More of the same.
I don’t mean to imply that we will collectively have a boring year. But I do believe that what we will be faced with will be those same issues we’ve been dealing with last year, and in several prior years.
It isn’t that there are not new and exciting things happening in the world of moving products and documents around the globe. But all the activity still boils down to putting goods in the hands of consumers. And what’s changing much more rapidly than our supply chain technologies is the way that consumers act. They have a tendency to make decisions and take actions that we (often) have not anticipated and are unprepared for. And many of our customers can become vociferous in their dissatisfaction.
Here’s my recommendation/prediction for 2015 that has less to do with EDI, orders and the processes we spend so much time on. I suggest spending time in communication with customers in the ways they want to communicate. That can mean phone calls, in-store contact, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+, Vine, Youtube, and any of the plethora of connections your customers prefer. The key is to understand which your demographic is using and to be there with them. Don’t assume that your customers are only on Facebook. In fact, if your demographic trends younger it’s likely they spend almost no time on Facebook.
Services like Snapchat that show videos for only a limited time till they are removed from the service are said to be reactions to advertising that inhabits other social media. Whether to and how to participate in these and other new services depends on your own product set and your target audience. The need to understand your customers is more important now than it every was.