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Keeping track of inventory has become one of the most pressing supply-chain concerns for retailers who want to fulfil the fast-changing demands of e-commerce. As they try to put into place new strategies for selling and delivering goods, such as rapid home delivery and ‘buy online-pickup in store’, retailers are blurring the lines between distribution centers and stores. However, these services obscure their view of how many items may be in stock and where the goods are located. In a recent survey by supply-chain software maker JDA Software Group, 78% of respondents indicated that they cannot track inventory in real time across distribution channels. To overcome this, retailers such as Walmart and Ahold Delhaize are testing the use of shelf-scanning robots that roll around store aisles to check inventory and send restocking data back through their networks. The data enables retailers to integrate consumer online orders and store replenishment. In addition, the use of autonomous delivery bots can help to make near-by deliveries, allowing retailers to speed up e-commerce fulfillment and reduce last-mile delivery cost.
Imitating successes of small social media platforms
Worldwide, large social media platforms are still growing rapidly. The number of daily active users of Facebook, for instance, has grown 8% over the last year. However, some predict that large social platforms are nearing a saturation point in Western markets. This ‘peak social’ causes a migration towards smaller communities of like-minded people, as users of larger networks feel that their voices are being drowned out. Indeed, recently Facebook announced a substantial redesign that builds on the successes of smaller online communities. First, Facebook will focus more on groups to connect users in a more meaningful way. Second, Facebook wants to rely on users to help police content – something Reddit is known for with its moderators. Third, Zuckerberg announced plans to integrate features so that users can share text, voice and photos across Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, mimicking Discord that offers a format where different experiences can be shared. The question remains whether Facebook can convince younger generations to use its platform, or that they will increasingly flock to alternatives like Tiktok.
The ‘elastic generation’
From the time people get into their fifties, they are increasingly seen as a burden to society, with high healthcare costs or pension problems. This life phase is traditionally characterized as the fall of our lives. However, the current residents of this group communicate a very different perspective. Their activities, wishes, insights and spending patterns show youthfulness, resilience, entrepreneurship, but also wisdom and self-assurance that stretches beyond the borders of their earlier identity. A study of JWT Intelligence in Britain, for example, shows that their activities are a-typical for their life stage: they start dating again, studying, flat-sharing, launching businesses etc. JWT therefore calls this group the ‘elastic generation’. Because of their size and financial resources they are a very attractive target group for advertisers. However, they are also difficult to charm. Contrary to teenagers or young adults, they crave for an age-agnostic approach that is not defined by a certain life phase but includes all of them. Here lies a huge opportunity for advertisers that forget any preconceived ideas about this group and succeed to address them properly.