How Retailers Can Modernize Their Supply Chain Management
by Maureen Perroni, on July 10, 2018
The main goals behind optimized retail haven't changed over the past few decades. Companies are still trying to move goods more quickly and accurately to get products into customers' hands efficiently and with minimal waste. The methods and technologies available to those organizations, however, have evolved significantly in recent years, giving businesses new ways to meet those age-old goals.
Taking a serious and focused approach to assessing and selecting suitable tools is a major objective today, as retail supply chains that lag in their development may weaken their organizations' competitive potential. The following are a few important considerations for sellers hoping to stay ahead of the curve.
Where's the Supply Chain Going?
What does it mean to have a modernized retail supply chain? According to the Auburn University Center for Supply Chain Innovation's 2018 survey, current priorities include better fulfillment in urban areas, improved sustainability, outsourcing and the ongoing search for disruptive technology. As for what's next, speed increases will have to spread beyond retailers to reach all partner organizations.
The connection between suppliers and sellers will come under pressure in the years ahead, as companies engage in rapid replenishment and forge faster pipelines from warehouses to consumers. Major retailers are dependent on their partner organizations to enable such high-speed operations. While on the surface this transition seems like an operational change, not a technological advancement, it's actually both. After all, unified systems and data access will be critical to seamless future communications.
Those increasingly integrated supply chains will continue to reach customers through online and brick-and-mortar storefronts, according to the National Retail Federation's recent research. Though it can be complicated for organizations to operate in-person and digital branches, there are risks associated with favoring one channel over the other. The NRF noted that with companies such as Amazon exploring the branding power and exposure of physical storefronts, it's clear there is room for e-commerce to exist alongside traditional retail.
How Do Back-End Solutions Help?
Effective technology deployments, such as centralized labeling systems, can help companies gain command over their supply chains, easily meeting evolving customer requirements and keeping visibility high as their resources are stretched thin. These solutions can forge stronger bonds with supply partners, even as speed demands increase through multiple sales channels.
Consistent and effective labeling solutions allow organizations to quickly and accurately pass data between multiple locations and levels of the supply chain. These solutions will likely prove to be an essential element of retail operations in the fast and tech-driven years ahead, and companies that lack them may have a hard time ramping up their speed.