Food for thought from the Gartner Supply Chain XPO 2023
Gartner Supply Chain XPO 2023 is one of the largest gatherings of supply chain professionals…
What is the metaverse, and why are top companies interested in it?
As innovators combine the use of technology with original thinking, the sheer potential of the metaverse is accelerating. Involving Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR), the technology surrounding the metaverse is mingling characteristics of both digital and physical domains. However, this virtual world gains access through game consoles, smartphones, computers, and other digital devices, not just through AR and VR devices.
There are also benefits to the digital economy, where customers can manufacture, purchase, and trade goods. The combination of entertainment, eCommerce, gaming, and social in the metaverse transforms consumer behavior and opens new opportunities for commerce businesses.
The metaverse in eCommerce can intermix the best of a store experience and customer service with the opportunity of buying at home. The multidimensional capability to intermingle products, communicate their characteristics, respond to any queries in real-time before making a purchase, and remain at home will dramatically shift consumer buying habits.
Think about a customer looking to buy a new car online. Instead of visiting several websites to look at brands and models online through videos, pictures, or texts, the metaverse can give the same experience in a 3D immersive world. It is a world where the customer can visit digital stores, get attention from store employees, and directly interact with the (digital) car they are interested in before purchasing.
The metaverse has the power to transform digital connection with a significant impact on eConsumers and organizational behaviors, processes, and structures. We now know that the human mindset reveals the same emotional experience and reactions in VR/AR as in real life, so it is unsurprising to see top companies opening digital stores for particular lines. Retail clothing, for example, is garnering significant interest and already driving millions of daily users on the available metaverse platforms.
The metaverse has the power to create new Supply Chain experiences in a digital world, one we have never experienced before.
Most top Supply Chains are involved in a digital transformation of parts of their organizations. Will the shift of digital products and experiences weaken the Supply Chain significance as we know it? Or, will the metaverse open doors to new opportunities and new potential?
The metaverse is an edge technology, working from the bottom to the top. While the goal of digital operations is to enhance the physical Supply Chain digitally, the purpose of the metaverse is to generate a digital space and translate it into the physical world. There are several Supply Chain areas and considerations that the metaverse can enhance:
The metaverse can drive greater collaboration throughout all Supply Chain tiers, both internally and externally. Increased potential in connectivity enables a direct collaborative approach with suppliers to transform the cost of manufacturing and simplify and accelerate synchronization up the value chain. This connectivity will make the end-to-end chain visible and responsive, incorporating crystal clear and efficient cost negotiations among vendors and buyers.
With wide-ranging collaboration and more in-depth production-optimized strategies, the co-managed margins for production errors will lead to better-quality products and services and reduce customer return rates.
Companies can achieve additional capabilities, lowering the costs of quality control and the need to visit vendors’ sites for inspection and approval.
Global supply chains are complex and challenging to understand, even by international Supply Chain management professionals. Currently, stakeholders, employees, investors, and customers demand more visibility into where raw materials are obtained and who and where the components are manufactured and finished. They want transparency regarding the environmental and collateral impact on the Supply Chains with whom they are doing business.
The metaverse will improve Supply Chain transparency with 3D images of how manufacturers make, deliver, and market products. Interested parties gain increased visibility into:
This transparency and visibility will heighten the Supply Chain’s confidence, trust, and efficiency.
The metaverse will make 3D visualization and virtual tools easily accessible to customers, improving accountability and transparency. This will magnify creativity and fast-track mass customization possibilities (i.e. personalized items). It will also make it easier to replicate products digitally, enabling manufacturing processes and factories to improve the allocation of resources across locations throughout the Supply Chain and facilitating the operation of alternative production scenarios.
This is likely to minimize interruption of physical manufacturing facilities, reducing downtime and increasing the adoption of alternatives and fast changeovers in the plant. Furthermore, it will have a far-reaching impact on the effect of fulfilling consumer requirements for personalized items – enabling their production to occur cost-efficiently in conventional factories currently designed for mass production.
The metaverse is an ideal collective space for collaboration and sharing ideas. It will be effortless for inside and outside business shareholders to cooperate on new product blueprints, share these ideas with manufacturers in the same setting, and get fast feedback. This will reduce the product lifecycle for new goods and speed up the development of practical designs to enable fast, more responsive, intelligent planning.
The limitless collaboration opportunities proposed by the metaverse means that every participant, from workers to logistics teams, will be able to consider sustainability and Environmental Social & Governance (ESG) matters through intelligent planning tools. Warehouse planning can be improved, experienced, and simulated in the metaverse before the physical form is built, saving time and money from concept to reality. This will drive better and more efficient warehouse designs and more favorable work environments.
When city governments and local organizations embrace meta technologies, they can assess and back up new strategies and propositions in the metaverse to replicate a final version to their files for accountability and continued learning.
The metaverse will afford a practical environment where strategic operator training can occur without disrupting daily operations. The checking of any warehouse flow and outlining of modifications can be modeled first before committing significant CapEx funds. Further benefits will originate from better space utilization through active space modeling, and greater location and shelving optimization as the volume of SKUs grow. While optimization and slotting are always important, they are even more critical due to the trend towards reduced and even micro-fulfillment centers, where storage capacity is most valuable.
We are only at the initial stages of the maturity of the metaverse. In the next few years, several edge technologies will appear and progress, resulting in an escalation of new ideas and approaches (but only if they improve the customers’ and users’ experiences). The evident capabilities of the metaverse offer tremendous benefits and applications. Technologies like the metaverse will be at the center of executive Supply Chain leadership decisions, enabling fresh planning approaches, accelerated virtual experiments, and facilitated speed to market for future products.
While we watch this space to see how and where the metaverse positively impacts the Supply Chain, why not look at the trends we are expecting to see in the more immediate future? Download our eBook to learn more.
Seven trends shaping Supply Chain and Supply Chain technology