The past 18 months, for many retailers, have been an exercise in attempting to build a plane while flying it. The retail landscape is fraught with supply chain disruption and changes in consumer buying behavior that directly impact the profitability of traditional business models.
It’s a stressful time for many retailers that have had to adjust their approach to product development, sourcing, logistics, and supply chain management quickly to stay afloat and maintain profit margins.
The industry challenges facing retailers today are a product of the times: the pandemic sparked an acceleration in online shopping and engagement with direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands that has sustained even as global lockdowns lifted. In the age of Amazon, convenience and speed of delivery are paramount to customer retention, but they come at a cost.
While convenient for customers, one to two day home delivery is a thorn in the side of most retailers who must pour more money into shipping and logistics processes to compensate for supply chain operations that weren’t designed to support large volumes of online orders.
Simultaneously, the past 18 months have also introduced significant supply chain disruption that shows few signs of abating. There were one-off problems that have been resolved, such as the Evergreen shipping container blockage, but other issues persist..
Climate change is causing erratic weather events that make logistics more challenging, overseas covid outbreaks have reduced factory and production capacity, and limited container capacity has sent freight rates through the roof: as recently as last week, retailers paid $20,000 for a shipping container that cost $2,000 last year.
The pressure to accelerate supply chain operations during unprecedented disruption is certainly a daunting prospect, but there are strategies, processes, and technologies that can drive growth and profitable omnichannel sales – even under today’s conditions.
Complete, end-to-end transparency across processes and partners is necessary to enabling this level of supply chain agility and resilience. Connecting all internal and external partners across the supply chain opens channels of communication such that partners can collaborate simultaneously and take action on sudden delays.
During times of disruption, this collaboration ensures lockstep alignment across brands, suppliers, manufacturers, and logistics partners that can help to mitigate delays, costs, and miscommunications.
A multi-enterprise platform that connects the entire retail network and ensures mutual value for the customer, the employee, and the partner ecosystem is necessary to ensure retailers can react intelligently and swiftly to disruption. Supply chain visibility and data transparency also makes it easier for retail leaders to implement and track progress on new initiatives, such as Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) efforts.
Bamboo Rose and Columbus Consulting recently published a white paper outlining the specific strategies and tools retailers must leverage to win new customers, improve profit margins, successfully serve new selling channels, and create a truly agile, resilient, and flexible supply chain capable of buffering for any disruption.
The paper draws upon decades of industry experience and executive and board-level conversations with retail’s leading organizations to offer solutions to the most significant challenges facing retail leaders in 2021 and beyond.
While this is a volatile time for retailers, retail tech providers and forward-thinking industry executives have developed strategies that allow for innovative and timely product development, reduced manual data management, a phased approach to order management, improved data analytics capabilities, and low-cost and low-impact alternatives to traditional buying and sourcing strategies, and new distribution center (dc) models.
These solutions can help retailers change their perspective on emerging changes in the industry to instead view obstacles as opportunities for competitive differentiation, growth, and innovation.
Download the white paper here.