Commerce Trends

by Manhattan Associates

How Retailers Can Conquer Flash Demand

Today’s digital world has changed the game for retailers by putting more power in to the hands of their customers. This has allowed them to buy from pretty much anywhere they like and expect a super quick and seamless delivery.

Throw in social media and the celebrity culture in to the mix, and suddenly a demand for a certain product can escalate and spread like wildfire, creating a slew of supply chain challenges. I’m calling this flash demand.

Flash demand can be created in many ways; celebrity appearance with a product, a new children’s film taking off and a resulting demand for merchandise or even from a standard sale.  No matter its origin, flash demand tasks retailers with the challenge of instantly adapting their supply chains to fulfil a sudden need – certainly no easy feat, and one that requires forward thinking on the behalf of retailers to ensure that their systems are flexible enough to adapt to the unexpected.


A responsive, flexible supply chain is necessary to ensure that all challenges can be met.  The focus for retailers must be on getting themselves ready to deliver (no pun intended) no matter the circumstances. For the supply chain, this means being commerce ready: ready to sell and ready to execute any way, any time, anywhere. To achieve this, retailers need a fulfilment execution system that’s flexibly designed at its core, so it contracts and expands automatically – stress-free – as demand requires.

A key step in achieving this relies on retailers having complete control over their inventory. To get this, they need a single view, in real time of all of their products regardless of channels and includes visibility of what is in transit.  This ensures they can leverage all parts of their supply chain to help meet customers’ expectations and make for an efficient and profitable order fulfilment for them.

Today’s supply chain is more customer facing than ever before and often influences loyalty and brand perception. In a flash demand scenario, when customers simply must have an item immediately, the ability to execute and meet that demand could result in more than a one-time sale for a retailer.

There’s no arguing that supply chain challenges have heightened in recent years, as retailers confront myriad new purchasing avenues and exceedingly demanding customer expectations. However, with the right combination of a flexible approach, sophisticated supply chain management technology and strategic planning, retailers can overcome the fulfilment hurdles caused by flash demand, among other supply chain challenges, and continue to prosper in today’s omnichannel world.