The ultimate supply chain is one of which the customer remains completely unaware, says Telstra’s general manager, retail supply chain strategy, Patrick Fountain.
“This supply chain is one where customer demands can change, and locations where goods are sold can change, and the supply chain is flexible enough to allow that,” he says.
By having an open and flexible supply chain, an organisation can essentially understand what consumers want, potentially even before they know they want it.
“We are seeing more savvy consumers, and they want to play and investigate and really experience what’s really happening,” Fountain says. “The customer is now a lot more vocal, and that is fuelled by things like social media.”
The internet provides a much more transparent view of the consumer because demand comes directly from the customer – not from a third party buyer or intermediary, Fountain says. If there’s no stock in the online supply chain, that translates directly into a lost sale.
“As we become more dynamic and customers become more demanding, the flow of information is everything,” he says. “There is no rule book. Nobody has really done it all before.”