May 2016 | Commentary | Viewpoint

Social Media Puts Supply Chain Change at Your Fingertips

Tags: Supply Chain Management, Logistics

John LaForte is President, International Warehouse Group, 631-694-4397

More and more companies are using social media to better understand the needs of consumers. When it comes to supply chain management, shippers can gain insight into which products are selling, how they're being distributed, and how to improve the entire supply chain.

Like any tool, social media is a way to collect more information, helping companies stay ahead of the competition.

Shippers can use their social media channels to tap into consumers' buying habits. A consumer who tweets a message endorsing one of your products can indicate an increase in demand. Thus, managers can prepare by adjusting supply. If a specific area sees a surge in interest in a product, managers can increase stock at that particular distribution warehouse.

Time Well Spent

Companies can mine their various social media channels to get a better sense of the kind of information that will impact sales and consumer demand. Some methods of social communication may be more effective than others. To truly grasp the power of social media, companies should invest time in building better relationships with consumers by posting often, limiting ads, and citing valuable and relevant information. Reach out to consumers via social media to further comprehend their concerns and preferences. The more energy your company invests in social media, the more valuable and insightful these channels will become.

Channeling Social Media

As powerful as social media can be, temper likes, posts, and tweets with other feedback. Strong online interest in a particular product may not translate into actual sales. Use social media in combination with other avenues of information including cultural or geographical trends, consumer sales reports, and performance reviews.

In addition to affecting supply and demand, social media can also improve a company's warehousing services. If any events impact the supply chain, instant updates can alert the supply chain manager. Social media increases communication between warehouses, departments, and trading partners. Managers can quickly broadcast information about a transportation delay, adverse traveling conditions, or the latest shipping methods. If an incident disrupts the supply chain, managers can use social communication to respond quickly, curtailing further delays.

#InTheWarehouse

Social media can also have a negative impact on warehousing distribution. If a manager increases supply prematurely based on a few tweets, a warehouse can get stuck with a surplus of unsold merchandise.

If used consistently and in combination with other information sources, however, social media can make warehouse distribution more productive, more accountable, and more accessible. Managers should be cognizant of how social media impacts warehousing logistics to better anticipate any changes in supply and demand.

Texts, tweets, and posts affect the ways in which the supply chain responds and operates. Suppliers and warehousing companies should use social media to communicate with consumers, maximize productivity, and identify potential growth opportunities.






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