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The millennial mindset: Making the retail supply chain

If you ask millennials about retail careers, you’d be hard-pressed to find one who mentions the retail supply chain or a product backend role. They have grown up with such a convenient shopping experience that they likely aren’t aware of the work required behind-the-scenes to get their dream product to market. With graduation season here, there are many unknown retail careers millennials could pursue if only they knew more about them.


The graduation season began this weekend for me, too. I got to attend the Sawyer Business School at Suffolk University ceremony, where Carol Fulp, president and CEO of The Partnership, Inc., gave the commencement speech.


A couple of things stuck out: Millennials are more racially diverse than Baby Boomers or Gen Xers and the jobs they will hold in a few years won’t be titles that we recognize today.


What does this mean for retail?


The retail industry has been pouring money into B2C innovation. But little has changed on the B2B side. We need the creativity and a change in thinking make it happen.


In fact, Millennials are already impacting retail in a big way – as consumers demanding a new experience from the products and services they consume. For many, the supply chain isn’t just an invisible support function, but part of the product experience. As organizations prepare for impending retirements, companies need to look into new ways of attracting young talent to these professions.


Like a good pair of jeans – the perfect fit

With their knack for technology, these early adopters are the perfect addition to the retail supply chain industry. Their technical know-how, creativity, and innovation make these digital natives more important than ever.


In a recent survey, 55 percent of manufacturers, retailers and solution providers felt the abilities of millennials to understand and adopt technology would drive new innovations within supply chain and logistics organizations. A third of these manufacturers, retailers, and solution providers had workforces comprised of 25 to 50 percent millennials. With the largest percentage of the labor force being millennials, it makes sense they should have a similar presence in the retail supply chain.


Millennials strive to improve, take risks, adopt new ideas and are more apt to implement technology to get their desired result. There is no better generation suited to providing the best quality product and service to customers at the fastest speed and the lowest price. Teamwork has been a staple of their education almost since kindergarten, and 88 percent of millennials prefer a collaborative work culture over a competitive one.


Retailers hoping to attract and maintain millennial talent in their supply chain will foster an environment that takes advantage of millennial creativity and encourages collaboration to achieve shared goals.


This generation is already changing the retail industry in the frontend. But they are poised to have a large impact on the backend as well. The millennial desire to innovate and collaborate will bring about great change in the way consumers buy, including how retailers move toward new marketplaces – online, mobile and social. As the survey found, 36 percent of supply chain organizations have already adjusted their onboarding process for millennial hires to reflect their values in technology, innovation, data, and ownership.


See how you can go live on day one to increase collaboration and creativity in your product lifecycle process in our latest white paper.