Retailers need to know where they are, at all times, so that they can redirect shipments, rebalance inventories, and respond to new demands on the fly. Any glitch in the supply chain or the instance of bad inventory, or not reaching customers on time can adversely impact organizations and they can risk losing to anyone in a multitude of competitors.
The semantics of supply chain management have been growingly complex. Collaboration, compliance, and customer service are posing new challenges, leaving personnel in distress rather often. Delivering goods to more destinations, meeting diverse needs, and shipping safely—alongside compliance—also turn processes into impediments.
How can big retailers ensure that their supply chain operations are running smoothly and that their IT implementation is well aligned? Let’s take a look:
Use cloud-based software to track and manage inventory in real time
It can be a huge challenge for big retailers to balance uncertain consumer behavior and long, complex supply chains. The consumers want zero delays and high levels of service while at the same time, companies need to consistently focus on higher margins. The only way companies can align demand with supply and ensure robust supply chain management is through implementing a cloud-based software system that can track and manage inventory in real time. The technology should allow retailers to be responsive to consumer demands and give them the flexibility to adapt to seasonal changes and other factors that may cause fluctuations in demand.
Don’t lose track of inventory. Use source tagging.
A good supply chain system empowers you to take informed decisions at all times. To increase supply chain effectiveness from the moment the product leaves the manufacturer’s warehouse—all the way to the point-of-purchase—retailers should deploy a source tagging solution. Electronic Product Code (EPC)-enabled Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) allows retailers to pinpoint their inventory in real time. When you are aware of the volume and the location of merchandize available across all channels, source tagging helps inform inventory management and supply chain operations at all levels to be better informed to make decisions. To gain further visibility into the supply chain, you can implement RFID.
Become part of a B2B e-procurement network
It’s not enough for businesses to know their own suppliers. In order to have a compliant ecosystem and to ensure high standards of quality and serviceability at all times, you need to know the suppliers’ suppliers. E-procurement networks can help companies get familiar with the network and empower businesses to predict supply chain disruptions and act quickly to adapt business processes. Retailers can now predict risks, take pre-emptive actions, and become flexible in their approach. The advantage in focus should be on getting ahead of supply chain disruption.
‘Unsilo’ your business
A siloed approach needs to be done away with. Even for a strong supply chain system, you need to ensure your marketing and supply chains are aligned and in sync. Using alerts, supply chains can be ahead of time, especially when big promotion opportunities arrive. A platform when deployed on a shared basis does two primary things: improvement of information flow and improvement of approach towards common goals. While data security is important when a shared platform is used between two independent companies in a supply chain, a shared platform should be designed with efficient firewalls and alerts while allowing teams to be on their toes.
Efficient supply chain collaboration can be difficult to achieve in retail because of its complexity. However, with well-defined business structures and better IT implementation, retailers outdo their competitors. That’s been an evident trend in this decade. Here are some examples:
Lingerie brand revives itself
How Unilever got back in to the market
Jack in the Box doing what’s right