Looking ahead in retail supply chain management


looking ahead in retail supply chain managementNow that 2012 has passed and 2013 is off to the races, retail executives and supply chain leaders are looking ahead to what new solutions and resources are available in the upcoming year.

The retail industry is highly competitive and is increasingly operating in an online environment. As shoppers continue to increase their online purchasing activity, retailers must adjust their operations to accommodate the changing preferences. Long gone are the days when inventory levels and shipping methods were only relevant to stocking a store.

Now, retailers continually adjust data and operations to ensure customers worldwide can purchase items on the go and receive the products in a timely fashion, no matter the demand.

As the percentage of business sourced from ecommerce platforms increases, a need for adequate supply chain management solutions grows. Companies must keep track of production and delivery activity constantly to ensure they avoid costly delays and promptly address obstacles to limit losses.

Supply chain management technology opens up communication channels throughout a product's conception to delivery, while allowing information to flow freely between departments. Managers can collaborate on business strategies and major decisions without being in the same location, enabling faster changes for increased productivity.  

2013 trends in supply chain

Supply chain management in 2013 is expected to be focused on solutions to help automate the supply chain and business integration technology. Connecting numerous aspects of the supply chain without overspending on IT solution will greatly impact efficiency.

Spend Matters reported the uncertain economic climate is another major reason why retailers all over the world are investing in supply chain management software and solutions. The recent economic downturn sent strong ripple effects through all industries worldwide. While many sectors have shown signs of limited recovery, the outlook remains cloudy and unpredictable. Many countries are still battling mounting debts and reduced levels of activity and growth continue to plague markets, indicating any shift in consumer sentiment could negatively impact sales in the short and long term.

Therefore, supply chain managers are looking to combine flexibility with caution, ensuring no bold moves are taken in the volatile market and there are safety nets in place to adapt to major changes in demand. Leaders must be able to respond quickly to events such as new governmental moves to boost spending and economic growth, or major cutbacks in other sectors that could drive down consumer spending.

No matter the event, retailers must prepare for the worst and use technology to ensure best practices throughout the chain.