Social Supply Chains

Social media in the B2B capacity

In case you’ve been living under a rock, social media has completely changed eCommerce on a global scale. For the average consumer, its become second nature to follow trends online and searching for the best deals. Social media has certainly thrived in a business-to-consumer (B2C) setting, as online retail giants Amazon and Overstock.com can attest. But will social media survive in a business-to-business (B2B) capacity? Will this strengthen supply chains?

Social media with B2B might predict future inventory needs

A recent example of social supply chain involves global retail giant Walmart. After acquiring Kosmix, a social media platform, Walmart plans to devise and develop social, and mobile, networking capabilities within their supply chain. Kosmix, now renamed WalmartLabs, hopes to enhance Walmart’s communicative collaborations with customers, suppliers, and logistic service providers.

“Social networking and mobile applications are increasingly becoming a part of our customers’ day-to-day lives globally, influencing how they think about shopping, both online and in retail stores,” said Mr. Castro-Wright, Vice Chairman for Walmart, in a statement.

Anand Rajaraman, co-founder of Kosmix, said in the Walmart statement: “Our work has focused on developing a social genome platform that captures the connections between people, places, topics, products and events as expressed through social media.”

So, what does that mean? Simply stated, introducing social media in the supply chain puts people, not documents, in the middle. Facilitating a social supply chain environment allows intuitive growth, design and flow. According to Mr. Rajaraman, social media can even predict customer demands, which helps determine what new products should be added to different stores, “We’re analyzing social information for the neighborhood area of each store,” he said. “How should the interests of a community influence the assortment in the store?”

Here is one example. Perhaps after investigating your data you find an increase of social activity pertaining to “hiking boots” resulted in increased buying activity during fall, but primarily on the East Coast. This saves the company time and money during the following season.

Is it the next step?

Realistically, social supply chain is the next step of eCommerce development. Indeed, as Facebook and Google+ connect personal social circles, social media within the B2B environment creates enterprise collaboration with suppliers. B2B software companies, like Moxie Software and Yammer, can harness how people down the supply chain communicate and collaborate with one another, or improve how companies analyze real-time information to help make smart business decisions. The end goal enables an efficient, money-saving social supply chain.

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