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

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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. In part one of this article we looked at the explosion of omni-channel retailing. In part two we dissect how omni-channel initiatives can impact the retail supply chain:

Following are just a few of the touch points that require attention with pursuing an omni-channel initiative:

•It requires retailers to co-ordinate orders from a variety of sources, both online and offline, placed 24/7.

•It means information about orders from disparate sources must be co-ordinated in a central system.

•It means staff must have visibility of orders placed across multiple channels in the system, across every point in the supply chain.

•It requires up-to-the-minute information on stock levels either held internally, or held by stock suppliers.

In order to meet such demanding and timely requirements, mid-market retailers are looking for supply chain solutions and partners that have the right technology to meet all of these needs. And it should come as no surprise that cutting edge technology is the key to meeting these.  As a result, few businesses can rely on their old, out-dated systems to help them meet the demands of the consumer of today.

So how can mid-market retailers support an omni-channel approach to doing business? And what should you be looking for from technology to assist your business? Let’s take a look. 

1.Your solution must be able to help place purchases in the hands of consumers when they want it, wherever they want it. 

2.Your solution must be able to support retailers who wish to send goods direct from wholesalers to customers, without them needing to store or touch the item, to help retailers reduce their costs and streamline their operations.

3.Your solution must be able to support mid-market retailers to offer a ‘personalised’ supply chain, meeting the very disparate needs of the ultimate consumer. 

All this will require both retailers and businesses with a focus on supply chain to spend considerable time working out what’s the best way to deploy the resources they have. It also means deep consideration should be given to choosing the right software and systems to partner with, which can most effectively support an omni-channel approach.

In some businesses, it will require a complete re-think of their operations, infrastructure and technology, to enable retailers to provide a personalised service, without this impacting profits and margins. However, with benefits stretching from optimising resources, generating sales and increasing market share, it is well worth the time investment. 

When looking for such a solution, retailers and supply chain organisations need to embrace business management software that brings together enterprise resource planning (ERP), mobile and analytics technology into a seamless business management solution. The platform should provide transparency across all operational processes with the specific tools that meet supply chain needs. This includes optimising the planning and forecasting process through Advance Forecasting technology and managing the flow of orders and distribution, as well as minimises bottlenecks through Wave Picking technology.

Additionally, integrated BI functionality enables key insights to be drawn from the data being accumulated in relation to supply chain processes, which helps businesses build competitive advantage, and speed up decision making to foster smarter, more innovative operations. Part of this is embracing a solution that enables the right information to be delivered to the right people, to streamline operations and generate more efficiences. 

As a business seeking to gain competitive advantage through its supply chain, it’s up to you to research solutions and make sure you work with technology businesses that understand how retailing and supply chain management is changing. Enterprises that do this will lead their sector and be in a position to work with not just Australia’s but also the world’s leading household name retailers. 

omnichannel supply chain


Stephen Duncan

Stephen Duncan

Stephen Duncan is a Technology Retail Specialist.

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