Don't forget the supply chain, 'retail champion' says


Innovation in business is a good thing. Implementing ideas before competitors creates differentiation and makes a service or product unique and exciting.

However Clare Rayner, a retail industry expert known as the "retail champion" recently offered a warning for stores in an interview with Manthan Systems. She cautioned companies investing heavily in new and innovative technologies not to forget about the core supply chain management competencies underlying the business.

"I believe that retailers not investing in keeping up to date with the day-to-day operational areas of the business are putting their businesses at risk. They will be overtaken by more agile brands who have grasped that technology is fundamental to supporting all business processes and not just about innovation," Rayner told the source.

Rayner did not simply offer that warning, however, as she also highlighted a number of ideas that could enhance the modern supply chain. The age of multi-channel retail has arrived, and she suggested that retailers embrace it by shoring up the warehousing and supply chain system to allow for rapid shipping of online orders and in-store pickup of mobile orders. She emphasized that not all online sales are "stolen" from physical stores, with 10 percent of internet orders during the U.K.'s busy Christmas shopping season involving delivery to a store rather than directly to a customer.

On the topic of general supply chain improvement, Rayner suggested that supermarkets were an effective model for other retailers. She explains that supermarkets have adapted their restock strategies from their perishable products, meaning that they are extremely efficient. Bottom-up data, Rayner said, is the key to being able to keep abreast of stock and move quickly to replenish without waste. She pointed out that, due to improved data reporting and analytics technology, this type of reporting is now available to companies of all types.

Rayner is not the only strategist to recently offered a take on the state of the supply chain. Logistics software executive Fabrizio Brasca gave Logistics Viewpoints his own tips for managing a supply chain in the face of modern trends and market conditions. He believes that advanced analytics programs are one of the key value-adding tactics for retailers. He emphasized that such programs are at their best when they are directly in line with operational processes, providing information that can affect decisions in real time and provide ROI directly in the shipping process itself.