5 Tips for manufacturers coping with the growth of online demand chains

Friday, January 25, 2019

Henry Ford made cars the way he wanted and when there were none left, the consumer was out of luck. Lean practices started the connection between manufacturers and consumers decades ago, but the Internet transferred power to the consumer and changed the supply chain paradigm to an unforgiving and intolerant era of demand. Today, more than ever, organizations who rely on providing goods and services at the warp speed of global demand, must synchronize their structure and culture to compete in the cyber era.

Last year’s Cyber Monday sales and holiday shopping behavior were indicators of trending toward more and more Internet buying. Cyber Monday sales were up almost 20 percent ($7.8 billion) with online purchases increasing 26 percent according to research data. The "Amazon Era" has produced an increasingly impatient customer who is super-powered to instantly move to the next vendor if delayed or dissatisfied with the speed of need.

Author and business consultant Cathy Sunshine has some helpful insights for large and small manufacturers who want to win in the increasingly hypersonic 24/7, online economy. Here are a few tips for business success in 2019, where more than ever, the customer is in control:

• Deconstruct and analyze each department as its own operation -- finding and eliminating workarounds, redundancies, blockages and constraints. The answer to the new digital consumption strategy is energized flow.

• Focus customer-facing resources on agility and speed. Internal operating departments must be aligned to serve the customer with unbound resolve or they will be discarded and rejected by potential customers and suffer a slow demise though word-of-mouth on and off line.
• Build a response system, augmented by technology, that enables both the employee and the customer to feel in control. When the response and fulfillment systems aggregate around customer needs and everyone feels relevant to the prioritized demand chain, performance, customer engagement and loyalty dramatically increases.

• Wait to embrace digital transformation until you’ve upgraded your company’s behavioral operating system. Without a customer-possessed (focused), agile workforce, the horsepower of new technology like artificial intelligence can be a lame duck.
• Focus on “syncing” enterprise behavior at every level to the continuous demand of the consumer. Let the customer be your guide -- pivot all activities to maintain enterprise-wide focus on the delivery of value quickly and easily. Be prepared to rebuild your throughput and service structure to build a more intelligent and dynamic response engine.

Cathy Sunshine is a strategic thought leader and coach to leaders, families and organizations. Her new book is “SYNC’d…Meeting the New Era Customer at the Warp Speed of Business.” Learn more at sunshineconsultancy.com.