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The rise of the Personal Supply Chain

It’s no question the January sales is one of the busiest times of the year for shoppers. However, perhaps, this year, you bypassed the holiday rush altogether and instead browsed the internet on your smartphone, tablet or PC to find your last minute purchases – ultimately, putting faith into the hands of manufacturers and retailers to deliver your orders on time.

The proportion of online shoppers has risen from 71 percent in 2012 to 77 percent in 2014 and retailers are going to great lengths to serve shoppers outside of the traditional retail environment .  However, from recent research, we’ve identified that when it comes to consumers’ expectations with supply chains, retailers and manufacturers are not yet hitting the mark.

Today’s online shoppers want services such as guaranteed same day delivery; the ability to customise products to meet their needs; and track deliveries on their devices. Quite simply they want to co-create their own Personal Supply Chain.

Since the late 1980’s manufacturing and transport companies have been collaborating in supply chain management practices. Today, it’s the customer who is calling the shots. Research suggests Australian companies need to start embracing the phenomenon and address the gap between consumer expectations and desires in order to survive in the market.  According to Frost and Sullivan online sales are set to grow from $16 billion in 2012 to an estimated $26.9 billion in 2016. Moreover, companies will profit in the long run – consumers are willing to pay a premium to access better supply chain experiences; provide design suggestions; and pick up their goods themselves.

One of my favourite examples of where this has been done really well is by Jodie Fox, co-founder of Shoes of Prey, an Omnichannel shoe retailer with a business model focused on an online customisation tool.  Shoes of Prey is a great example of Personal Supply Chain done right. Last year it grew by over 200 percent as customers bought into the unique value proposition. It has also garnered a string of awards including Online Retailer of the year.

The following tips serve as key considerations for both manufacturers and retailers that are taking the Personal Supply Chain under their wing:

  1. Communicate on a platform that is accessible to your consumers, for example, consider the availability of apps across all platforms.
  2. Make sure customers can see available stock levels as this is an increasing expectation among omnichannel shoppers.
  3. Use social media to build trust and manage relationships with your customers to foster competitive advantage.

Technology certainly remedies many pain points shoppers experience during the holiday season especially as consumer expectations continue to shift towards more autonomy and control over the end-to-end experience of shopping. Australian consumers have moved on from the free-value driven expectations to expecting experiences that meet their specific needs and our manufacturers and retailers have a real opportunity to rethink and redesign their customer experiences to truly gain a distinct competitive advantage. Of course, those who choose not to take this opportunity should recognise that there is a consequence – will a commitment to the Personal Supply Chain be your New Year’s resolution?

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