The retail supply chain in 2014: a whole new world - Part One

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The revolution in retailing that has happened as a result of the explosion in online shopping has prompted a similar transformation of the supply chain. Together, the best supply chain businesses and mid-market retailers are racing the clock to work out how....

Together, the best supply chain businesses and mid-market retailers are racing the clock to work out how they can best meet and even exceed consumers’ expectations, delivering what they want, when they want, right around the world. It’s a particularly competitive space and it’s going to stay that way as retailers compete even more fiercely for the consumer dollar. 

Today’s consumer expects an array of choices. Above all, when they buy something online, they want to be able to select when and where they want their purchases delivered. They want us to deliver an outfit they have bought online at 9.00 am by 5.00 pm at their office, so they can wear it out that night. Others want us to deliver their regular weekly order of a box of fresh organic food to their home, positioned in a shady spot. Plus, they want us to deliver their fragile addition to their crystal collection, ordered from the US, when they’re at home on a Saturday morning. Meeting these customer demands is an incredibly big ask, even for the biggest retailers.

But what’s key to all of this is that consumers are prepared to pay for these privileges. Most of us are more than happy to spend money on same day delivery if we want something right now. But at the same time, we also want the option of free delivery if we’re prepared to wait a little longer, perhaps even up to a week, for our purchases. 

Mid-market retailers must ensure its supply chains are flexible enough to respond to all of these requirements and more. It’s perhaps one of the biggest shifts in retailing that has ever occurred. 

At the same time, most mid-market retailers have embraced an omni-channel strategy – simultaneously offering consumers the ability to shop in-store, on their mobile, on a laptop, PC or on a tablet. Effectively, it’s bringing the store to the consumer, wherever they are.

This has meant these businesses have had to embrace smart supply chain technologies that allow them to delight their customers across a range of platforms, to enable them to capture market share and differentiate their offering.

This is no easy feat given an omni-channel approach has so many moving parts. (End of part one)

In part two we look at the elements that can assist to achieve a more balanced supply chain ecosystem.

omnichannel supply chain

Stephen Duncan

Stephen Duncan

Stephen Duncan is a Technology Retail Specialist.

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