The extended Consumer Supply Chain is driven by serving the demands of the ultimate customer. Since consumers have no
obligation to present forecasts to their merchants, that means businesses need to create ways to see and sense—in real-time, all the time—product consumption, as well as evolve their offerings over time, to continue to meet the needs of an ever-more sophisticated and demanding consumer.
The consumer supply chain is ultimately a partnership between retailers and their suppliers—both win if they have the right selections, price points and freshness on the shelf. When customers enter the store, they delight in the best presentation with the best selections.
Multi-dimensional Supply Chain Models
But how did all that stuff get there? To do this, behind the scenes, outside the four walls of the store, the gears of the supply chain must be synchronized. The supply chain processes, through the whole chain, have to recognize and interpret these markets of one—customer demand—at the item level. But the consumer products supply chain does not buy and ship in units of one. That is economically unfeasible. So, new processes and technologies must be created to fulfill customer demand, linking this customer demand dimension to an economic ordering quantity dimension (an order to shipment). And then actually move the stuff to where it needs to be at the right time, linking the order to a physical logistics dimension (pallets and containers) all the way through the chain. Creating this multi-dimensional approach requires coordination—not just these product dimensions—but in the linkages to the entities and enterprises across the extended chain. This means every one who has a role in bringing that product to market—from that manufacturer in Asia, to the carriers, port handlers, truckers, and the stock clerk, to finally arrive at the shelf in Peoria.