Did Pokémon Go Solve a Historic End-to-End Supply Chain Problem?

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Getting the Right Product in Front of the Right People

It took an augmented reality video game and a host of made up monsters to seemingly solve one of end-to-end supply chain’s biggest problems–getting the right product in front of the right people. Too bad the tactics Pokémon Go has implemented aren’t easily repeatable by the rest of us mere mortals. In fact, their tactic isn’t really a tactic at all. It’s more a case of demand far outstripping supply. People are so crazy about catching the variety of Pokémon running amok on their smartphones, they’re actually willing to travel to where the supply is—it doesn’t matter the location, or the time of day, these folks are prepared to do darn near anything to get the inventory they want. Much to the envy of every supply chain manager out there. Who wouldn’t love hordes of consumers coming directly to you? For those that aren’t quite familiar with this new craze sweeping the globe, Pokémon Go is a free-to-play location-based augmented reality mobile game developed by Niantic for iOS and Android devices. Making use of GPS and the camera of compatible devices, the game allows players to capture, battle, and train virtual creatures, called Pokémon, who appear on device screens as though in the real world.

Supply Chains and Pokémon Go Still Need to Deliver Products at the Right Time

This influx of inventory-hungry customers has created an incredible demand, but it’s also brought with it another supply-chain related problem. While the game delivers the right product to the right people, it doesn’t get it to them at the right time. At least, not yet. Plagued with server disruptions, the development team has been struggling to maintain the availability of the game. Players are finding themselves unable to connect when they want to. Although frustrating, it hasn’t put much of a dent in the willingness of these consumers to try again and again to get on to the game servers.

Real-World Demand Planning Influenced by Pokémon Go

Pokémon Go is now even shaping the real-world demand plans of various businesses across the globe. As mass crowds gather to try and catch ‘em all, it’s actually driving traffic for nearby retailers, and according to Supply Chain @ MIT, may eventually stimulate consumer demand for those stores. Forbes has also pointed out how businesses can benefit from this new craze—by offering discounts and encouraging users to stop by on their quest for that elusive rare Pokémon. The ability to sponsor PokeStops, which are real-world locations where players can fuel up on supplies, is also reportedly in the works, and could have a big impact on supply chains associated with those sponsorships. Just imagine having to deliver thousands more of an expected item because your company wants to lure Pokémon players. No matter if you love it or loath it, Pokémon Go appears to be here to stay—at least until the novelty wears off or the next big craze hits. But if it turns out to enjoy long term success, your S&OP meetings may soon need to start accounting for the Pokémon factor.

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