Welcome To The New Supply Chain

Welcome To The New Supply Chain

The global coronavirus pandemic has precipitated some drastic changes in society. Some of the pandemic-driven changes will be temporary, and people will in fact return to concerts, sporting events and churches. However, one aspect of the economy that will see a permanent shift is the supply chain.

Social isolation has meant an explosion in online commerce, and transaction volumes across most retail sectors saw a 74% rise from March of this year. Our own survey data shows that 87% of Americans are now shopping online. E-commerce is mainstream, and the reality is that online ordering — whether it be from a reseller or direct from the manufacturer — has never been more efficient or easier for consumers, who are now accustomed to having essential goods delivered to their doorsteps in just a few days.

What's more, our data also shows that most people are working from home. While many are beginning to return to office locations, many others will not, only accelerating a trend previously established with remote work. Videoconferencing and learning management systems offer effective tools for remote workforces to ensure high levels of productivity and collaboration.

These significant cultural shifts have pushed us firmly into the era of B2E, or "business to everyone." Quite simply, the supply chain has needed to adapt to the new reality that our customers do not think of themselves as B2C or B2B; they are just customers. To compete in today's environment, you must not only meet them in the channel or media where they want to engage but also deliver to them with a supply chain that exceeds their expectations. The pandemic accelerated this reality and has put us on a transformative path.

The new supply chain revolves around the three key concepts: acceptance, flexibility and acceleration.

1. Acceptance starts with an understanding that there will be no "return to normal" for the supply chain. Permanent changes include a new era of consumer expectations, which revolve around fast, low-cost delivery — right to the front door — and the idea that regular shopping trips are a thing of the past. Our recent survey data backs this up, as 64% of Americans say they're replacing weekly shopping trips with online ordering, and customers are trying new online vendors every day to fill their regular grocery baskets and even to obtain specialty items, like vitamins (34%) and pet supplies (28%).

2. Flexibility is another key tenet of the B2E supply chain. The mindsets of B2B and B2C will evolve into a sort of omnichannel arrangement that will enable companies to leverage supply chain vendors for a broad range of capabilities. This will create the ability to deliver to any type of customer, in any location. Such flexibility requires a myriad of supply chain and logistics capabilities, including trucking and delivery, less than truckload (LTL) and small package handling, and international and postal shipping. The comprehensive B2E supply chain will also integrate white-glove services for home delivery, as well as temperature control for perishable food items. The dazzling number of capabilities required to make B2E work effectively means that companies must build or buy a solution.

3. Acceleration is the final element of the new B2E supply chain. Many of the changes we are seeing now are not actually new, but the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation and supply chain changes that were already underway. Just as the supply chain has become more adaptable, the "commerce engine" has evolved. Consumers must be provided with maximum flexibility when it comes to the way they interact and transact with businesses, whether working with a sales or service rep, buying on a website or using an app. When enterprises are backed up by a supply chain that can serve a diverse array of customer needs, they can get out in front of the market and build direct, brand-to-consumer relationships that have lasting value.

While the pandemic has caused a great deal of upheaval and sadness in our personal and professional lives, it has also illustrated how capable and adaptable business and society can be. In just a few short months, we have seen dynamic shifts in our sales channels and supply chains, and we have found new ways to work with our customers, partners and employees.

As a society, we will always find a way to move forward. The adoption of the B2E mindset will only continue; "This event is taking us where our business wants to go, just faster." And I agree. The genie is truly out of the bottle when it comes to the new supply chain, with B2E becoming an economic mainstay. Welcome!

Credit & source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/202...

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