They already are, or at least have been for a while. In my first job as a store assistant I had supply chain information at my fingertips. Admittedly, it wasn’t always perfect for the customer; they might have had to go to another store to collect if we didn’t have the item in stock. But nonetheless we were already empowered with supply chain knowledge.
Fast forward a few years and has there been any real change? Well yes, there have been a lot of changes in how people want to shop and how they want to receive their goods. We’re increasingly becoming savvier shoppers. We’re not interested in the nuts and bolts of your supply chain; we’re interested in who has that product available to buy now. That’s what makes consumers supply chain experts.
Technology has moved on too, retailers can now put supply chain knowledge in their hands and in the hands of their customers. Boardrooms are listening to what shoppers are saying and they’re putting their wants and needs at the heart of their businesses. For instance, Click-and-Collect is great and is hugely popular. But, often it’s still the next day and even then many retailers are finding it a struggle. Often as a result of not having a real-time view of stock to see there’s already five of the items ordered in the chosen store. So in the end, they’re fulfilling ecommerce orders from their DCs, which is both expensive and time intensive.
But retailers are working hard to change this, they’ve listened to the savvy shoppers’ demands and they are investing in business changes, people and technology to give them what they want. It’s in their interest after all. Happy customers are loyal and will return again and again, which results in more sales. But the key is real-time inventory visibility, enterprise wide.