Around the world, consumers are becoming increasingly focused on convenience within every sphere of their lives.
With technology fuelling an ever-quickening pace of life, consumers are demanding products and services now – in a way that is both easy and efficient.
As a natural consequence of the “instant gratification” requirements of consumers today, savvy product vendors and retailers need to be able to position their product or service wherever – and whenever – the consumer requires it.
This challenge can be met by ensuring that retailers and vendors have a presence in close proximity to the consumer’s “on-the-go” missions. Additionally, being able to fulfil a consumer’s need with a rapid and customised delivery service can solve the conundrum.
For logistics and supply chain stakeholders, it is worth noting that convenience should not be considered a factor of any LSM “level”… In essence, it is the ability to service the needs of any consumer, wherever they are! Also, the service will not necessarily require a premium charge.
Embracing a ‘Value Chain’ Mindset
For players and decision-makers within the supply chain, it is critical to not only rise up to the challenge that the emerging convenience sector presents, but to also create and leverage new opportunities.
In South Africa, logistics businesses typically operate in line with the principles of maximising the size of the demand, and maximising utilisation. Naturally, the focus within the convenience space is on service and availability. The ability to solve for this apparent contradiction lies at the heart of the challenge for logistics and supply chain leaders.
In our view, this challenge requires a holistic, ‘value chain’ mind set and perspective. By taking into account the macro socio-economic trends, as well as the growing role of technology, logistics players can in fact drive and shape the move towards convenience shopping.
Arguably, the myriad opportunities for convenience services have been created by the confluence of a number of macro socio-economic trends. Such trends include rapid urbanisation, a rising middle class, mobile technology and the internet of things, health and wellness (fresh, healthy foods), consumer behaviour and globalisation.
Within this fast-changing context, both locally and abroad, the role of logistics and supply chain players will shift from being an enabler to a core business function. Additionally, the Route-to-Market will be a strategic differentiator – allowing product vendors to penetrate markets and attract new customers. The supply chains will thus allow the suppliers to compete…and the supply chain that is able to differentiate one supplier against another will ultimately grow and thrive.
A Tech-Driven Evolution
Looking ahead, the convenience-shopping sector will ultimately be defined by technology – and for logistics providers, it will be essential to harness such technology wherever possible.
Already, ‘Deliver to Me’ solutions are emerging, whereby the end consumer is tracked in order to literally deliver wherever they are. Other key trends include the growing role of smart devices (such as a fridge that auto-replenishes itself); the proliferation of autonomous vehicles (including trucks, drones, forklifts, etc); as well as the blockchain and digital currencies.
In the next several years, the winners and losers within the convenience shopping segment will increasingly be defined by their willingness to innovate and to embrace new technology. As always, the advantage will sit with the savvy first movers and brave early adopters…