5 ways social media can assist supply chain organisations

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It wasn’t that long ago that asking someone what social media was elicited the response “it’s for people who want to share what they were having for breakfast”. Much has changed since then and with the proliferation of smart devices, high speed communications and digital marketing social media has developed into a powerful communication platform, feedback mechanism and industry insight tool for businesses. With more companies promoting themselves via social platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter and SlideShare it’s timely that we look at where social might be beneficial within our supply chain organisations.  

1.Industry Insight All companies strive to be recognised as leaders within their industry. One of the challenges is finding platform to share thought leadership that is honest, trustworthy and relevant. Organisation can use social media as a method to share their unique value proposition through blogging and platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter. Smart buyers and potential clients are always searching for industry knowledge and credible insights and social media opens up the channels to share your capabilities while bolstering your reputation. 

2.Support According to Nielsen's 2012 Social Media Report, nearly half of U.S. consumers use social media to ask questions, report satisfaction, or to complain. Companies such as Telstra are now going a step further and tapping into their social media support channels to provide more personalised offerings. Although social media customer service is an exciting new revolution in care, it does require a level of reasonability that you are prepared to monitor and be highly proactive to requests. 

3.Collaboration The social media platform is the perfect environment to share, respond and potentially collaborate. With virtually no boundaries social media provides a unique opportunity to gather customer and industry trends without the traditional overheads. According to the Nielsen report 47% of people were prepared to share their experiences via social media. Gathering the voice of the customer via social platforms provides valuable improvement ideas that might have otherwise been very difficult to obtain.  

4.Orchestration There are multiple moving parts to the supply chain and orchestrating them a major challenge. Social media provides a platform to collaborate amongst the business units to provide a clear and consistent message. For example receiving automatic notifications of issues such as weather conditions (that might affect deliveries) or changes in shipment statuses can be highlighted and shared amongst those individuals that can effect proactive change.

5.Planning Merchandise planning can be a challenge, particularly where businesses are relying on sell through % reports from customers. Social media can tap into insight not traditionally captured by reports. For example if you are a supplier of electronics, what is the market sentiment around a particular product, brand or category? What is the demographic and where are they located. Recently Amazon announced they were analysing customer and social behaviour to do predictive analysis on their supply chain ensuring product was in the appropriate distribution centres, saving time and money.  

At its core social media is about sharing and gathering information. By defining the business need, for example improving support channels or industry insights, they can more effectively adopted as platforms that provide a clear advantage to the organisation.   

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Stephen Duncan

Stephen Duncan

Stephen Duncan is a Technology Retail Specialist.

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