Making a more social supply chain
By Jesse Galt
When you think of supply chain management, social media may not be the first thing that comes to mind.
But given the fact that Facebook has over a billion active users and Twitter has over two hundred million active users, it shouldn't come as a surprise that these networks are massive enough to have a direct impact on supply chains.
As you'll see below, while most supply chain executives recognise that social media is important, they're not sure how to actually utilise it.
If you're in the same position, this post will help you by covering how social is actually impacting supply chains, as well as specific strategies you can start implementing.
What executives think
Near the end of 2011, Adelante asked supply chain executives the following question:
"What impact will social media have on supply chain management over the next five years?"
Of the four possible responses, nearly half of the executives said that social media will positively transform supply chain processes in ways no one is currently imagining. More than a third said it will make processes more responsive, efficient and effective, and 17.5 percent said that it won't have a significant impact.
It's worth noting that no executives chose the fourth answer, which is that social media will negatively impact supply chain productivity and costs.
What is social media's current impact on the supply chain?
So, were the more than 80 percent of executives who said at the end of 2011 that social media will have a significant impact, right? You could argue that one would think just about everyone with knowledge of this area of business would say yes. And here are three examples that show exactly why:
· Transparency - As a result of social media projects like Sourcemap, consumers can see and contact different points in thousands of product supply chains. Because social media has made this information available to anyone, companies have to be ready to publicly stand behind their choices.
· Supplier relations - Companies like Lockheed Martin are using the different features of social media to strengthen their relations with suppliers. By utilising social media to make communication as easy as possible, both companies and their suppliers win.
· Internal communication and processes - The same concepts companies are using with their suppliers can be utilised for internal communication as well. Thanks to social media and its ability to remove previous communication barriers, companies can actually speed up their delivery times.
Put it to work
Now that you know more about its current impact, here are three ways to start utilising social media for supply chain management:
- Predicting demand - You can find relevant indexes for your industry that are built on data harvested from social media activity, and then use them to help predict demand.
- Improving assortment planning - Because consumers use social media to talk about companies, you can use this information to take care of assortment planning upfront.
- Refining shelf placement - Just as social media data can be used for assortment planning, the sentiment gleaned from this data can be used to refine where specific products are placed on retail shelves.
Although it may not change your supply chain practices overnight, the undeniable impact of social media means that it's important to always keep this channel in mind as you move forward.
Jesse Galt is a freelancer who writes about a wide range of topics, including tips for evaluating Internet reputation management services and how to do competitive research online.
Pandora and IBM digitise jewellery supply chain
Pandora has overhauled its global supply chain in partnership with IBM amid an ecommerce sales boom for its hand-finished jewellery.
The company found international success offering customisable charm bracelets and other personalised jewellery though its chain of bricks and mortar retail destinations. But in 2020, as the COVID-19 outbreak forced physical stores to close, Pandora strengthened its omnichannel operations and doubled online sales.
A focus on customer experience included deploying IBM’s Sterling Order Management, increasing supply chain resiliency and safeguarding against disruption across the global value chain.
Pandora leverages IBM Sterling Order Management as the backbone it its omnichannel fulfilment, with Salesforce Commerce Cloud powering its ecommerce. Greater automation across its channels has boosted the jeweller’s sustainability credentials, IBM said, streamlining processes for more efficient delivery. It has also given in-store staff and virtual customer service representatives superior end-to-end visibility to better meet consumer needs.
Jim Cruickshank, VP of Digital Development & Retail Technology, Pandora, said the digital transformation journey has brought “digital and store technology closer together and closer to the customer”, highlighting how important the customer journey remains, even during unprecedented disruption.
"Our mission is about creating a personal experience and we've instituted massive platform changes with IBM Sterling and Salesforce to enable new digital-first capabilities that are much more individualised, localised and connected across channels and markets,” he added.
Pandora’s pivot to digital
The pandemic forced the doors closed at most of Pandora’s 2,700 retail locations. To remain competitive, it pivoted to online retail. Virtual queuing for stores and virtual product trials via augmented reality (AR) technology went someway to emulating the in-store experience and retail theatre that is the brand’s hallmark. Meanwhile digital investments in supply chain efficiency was central to delivering on consumer demand.
“Consumer behaviour has significantly shifted and will continue to evolve with businesses needing to quickly adapt to new preferences and needs,” said Kareem Yusuf, General Manager, AI Applications and Blockchain, IBM. “To address this shift, leading retailers like Pandora rely on innovation to increase their business agility by enabling and scaling sustainable supply chain operations using AI and cloud.”
Yusuf said Pandora’s success was indicative of how to remain competitive by “finding new ways to create differentiated customer experiences that protect their enterprises from disruptions to help mitigate risk and accelerate growth”.