While it’s difficult to ever predict the full impact of global events on supply chains, one of the most influential factors affecting the movement of goods is consumer trends and how changing behaviours can alter retail operations.
International logistics company Advanced Supply Chain Group (ASCG) understands this and utilises bespoke supply chain software to help e-commerce retailers draw on accurate data about what’s impacting the sale and return of products. This is complemented with industry knowledge and research to pinpoint key consumers trends affecting supply and demand, to help retailers create strategies that make e-commerce supply chains better, faster and cheaper.
The company’s latest eBook focuses on the consumer trends that will impact supply chains in 2022 and the actions retailers are taking to embrace online shopping habits.
Three of six key trends include:
1) Spread the cost
The concept of flicking through home catalogues and placing orders via post, or speaking over the phone, will be alien to most of today’s generation of online shoppers. However, they are increasingly familiar with the concept of spreading the cost of payments, which made home-shopping catalogues such a hit in previous decades.
This concept has been digitised, with ‘shop now, pay later’ options like Klarna becoming something of a default purchasing behaviour for a growing share of internet shoppers. This can have huge ramifications for supply chains, as it can make goods with higher retail selling prices more accessible and can change order quantities and purchasing frequencies quite considerably. Stock inventory management and supply chain strategies need to adapt accordingly to ensure the right products are being stocked at the right times, and at the right prices.
2) Try before you buy
An ASCG survey of 2,000 shoppers in October 2021 found that being able to try items before purchasing was the greatest benefit of high street shopping. Almost two thirds (63%) ranked it their top benefit, above being able to get instant refunds and immediately exchange unwanted items. It’s impossible for store changing rooms to exist online but this isn’t dampening the love of ‘trying before buying’ amongst e-commerce consumers.
Online shoppers feel more and more comfortable buying multiple items, whether that’s different size, colour and style variations of the same clothes or putting ‘alt-products’ in their baskets, which are essentially a back-up choice in case they don’t like what else they’ve ordered. 57% of retailers think they’ll face a higher volume of returned products this year and ‘trying before buying’ will play a big part in this. Technology must be able to seamlessly integrate returns into supply chains as their own stand-alone channel, with returned products treated much in the same way as goods sold.
The growth of the e-commerce market was hugely accelerated during the pandemic, which has in turn intensified the focus on supply chain sustainability. Consumers are more aware of the delivery vehicles and packaging connected to the goods they’ve ordered and are increasingly questioning their environmental impact.
At the same time, there’s growing awareness and concern about climate change, which is starting to impact purchasing decisions. Online shoppers are paying more attention to the sourcing and supply of the products they are buying and there’s mounting expectation for this to be more resourceful and less wasteful. Supply chain data will prove critical to helping e-commerce retailers enhance sustainability. With the right information, retailers can optimise transportation space to move more products per vehicle to reduce carbon emissions and identify efficiencies that lower energy consumption and minimise errors and product wastage.
ASCG’s eBook covers more trends and also looks at the three key actions retailers can take to optimise stock inventory management and supply chain strategies in 2022, and beyond. Click here to download a free copy.
Caroline Ellis is commercial director at Advanced Supply Chain Group.