CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly
February 21, 2017
Supply Chain Executive Insight E-Newsletter
Each month the Supply Chain Executive Insight e-newsletter will include brief articles about developments that are often overlooked by other supply chain publications. We will present you with summaries of the latest research as well as new ideas on how to make your supply chain operations more effective. And we'll offer commentary that sheds light on what's happening in supply chains today.
Sign up now!

Most Read Articles

News from our sister publication
DC Velocity
Afterword
Afterword

What shoppers want ... and what it means for you

Comment
How consumers shop and buy is driving change in supply chains at a dizzying pace.

When the holiday shopping season begins, the lines will likely be shorter than last year's, and they will probably shrink further in the future. The mass migration of shoppers from traditional brick-and-mortar stores to digital storefronts is well under way and continues to gather steam.

The latest evidence of this comes from an annual study released earlier this year by UPS. The fifth annual "Pulse of the Online Shopper" study shows that avid online shoppers, defined as those who make two or more online purchases in a typical three-month span, are now making more than half of all their purchases online.

This is the first time in the study's five-year history that more than half (51 percent) of all purchases by respondents are made online. The study also suggests that the shift from in-store shopping to e-commerce will continue. Nearly one in five respondents indicated that they plan to do more shopping online in 2017 than they did in 2016.

Traditional stores aren't all they are migrating away from. They are also moving away from their computers as their primary shopping tool and instead turning to their ever-present smartphones. A full 77 percent now conduct their online shopping primarily on mobile devices, up from two-thirds in 2014.

Physical retail stores, though, still have a place in the new omnichannel world; 45 percent of online shoppers said they still go to physical stores. Some traditional online retailers are even establishing a brick-and-mortar presence, albeit with a twist: they're experimenting with showrooms that give consumers the opportunity to examine products before buying them online.

Just as today's customers expect to shop via any channel they choose, they also expect to use more than one channel to execute a single transaction. For instance, the study showed that about half the buyers who shop and buy online want to pick up their orders at a store. These "cross-channel transactions" now account for 38 percent of all purchases.

To meet all of these expectations, retailers must have visibility into available inventory in both the store and at the supporting DC(s). Retailers also must create a seamless experience between their virtual and physical storefronts that reflects how their customers want to shop.

Our report on omnichannel distribution in this issue provides insight into how retailers and their service providers are responding to these rapidly changing demands. The report features the results of a joint survey we conducted with ARC Advisory Group in which we asked respondents what processes and technologies they used to fill the various types of orders. As it turned out, their answers were all over the map. Just as there is no one buying pattern common to the majority of shoppers, there is no one solution for satisfying these shoppers. Supply chain professionals will continue to face challenges as the complexities grow and the variables multiply. Their fortunes will depend on their ability to remain agile and responsive, and on their willingness to adapt to consumer demands that seem to change by the day.

Mitch Mac Donald is Group Editorial Director of AGiLE Business Media.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you're not already logged in, you will be asked to log in or register.


Want more articles like this? Sign up for a free subscription to Supply Chain Executive Insight, a monthly e-newsletter that provides insights and commentary on supply chain trends and developments. Click here to subscribe.

We Want to Hear From You! We invite you to share your thoughts and opinions about this article by sending an e-mail to ?Subject=Letter to the Editor: Quarter 2016: What shoppers want ... and what it means for you"> . We will publish selected readers' comments in future issues of CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly. Correspondence may be edited for clarity or for length.

Want more articles like this? Subscribe to CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly.