The clock continues to tick down to October 31 when negotiations between the U.K. and EU must be complete to give all countries time to sign off and vote on a final deal in time for the “Brexit Day” deadline of March 29, 2019.
While current events make a “no deal” Brexit unlikely, and a new 21-month transition period will give everyone time to work out the kinks, the waters are still murky on what the true impact of Brexit will be on the world, particularly with regard to trade and retail.
Single market? Customs Union? Free trade area? No one really knows yet what the Brexit trade outcome will be, and many of these decisions are key for retailers trying to figure out how to evolve their supply chains to adapt to the new environment. New U.K. trade deals will not take effect until January 1, 2021, but a wait-and-see approach is far too risky – and frankly, irresponsible – so what should retailers do to prepare?
Go Digital. Now.
Disparate Excel sheets and siloed communication slow down product development and delivery, while also increasing the margin of error and risk. And forget about being agile if your sourcing team is trying to track down emails from every supplier to confirm what’s being sampled or ordered when, where and how. Being able to nimbly adapt to changes – like the ones that will come from Brexit – will be essential for retailers wishing to work through these geopolitical shifts without significant disruption or impact to their bottom lines.
Making the sourcing process more efficient can improve an entire supply chain. While in an ideal world, retailers could roll out a fully integrated global trade management platform in a month, digital sourcing is the easier entry point for retailers who want to reap the benefits of digitizing their supply chain.
By digitally sourcing products using a solution like Bamboo Rose, teams are collaborating on a single platform with greater visibility into product concept and development, co-creating to ensure products are on-trend and in demand. Using digital sample tools and marketplace tech, retailers can speed their sourcing process and ensure that all communications are together, relevant and backed up.
Plan for the What-if
No one wants a surprise in landed costs or need to develop a plan B on the fly if a supplier can’t pull through on an order. Since we can’t predict the future, retailers should prepare for various scenarios using a what-if costing approach to simulate supply chain changes, like different tariff rates, customs policies or supply chain disruptions.
Adequate preparation through technology will be key for retailers facing supply chain impacts from Brexit. As it is unlikely to have advance notice on trade negotiation decisions, having the proper tools in place sooner than later may be the difference between survival and extinction for many retailers.
Read our latest whitepaper on what-if costing to help keep pace with the rapidly changing times and ensure your company is prepared.