8 Tips to Transform Your Supply Chain for Retail's New Reality

80 percent of supply chain professionals agree: decisions made in response to disruptive change are in dire need of improvement. In an effort to help retailers navigate COVID-related disruption, we’ve highlighted 8 tips retail organizations can follow to enhance agility and adaptability in response to supply chain risk.

1
Diversify sourcing and manufacturing operations

When it comes to product sourcing in the age of COVID-19, it’s all about diversification. To reduce your company’s reliance on a specific region, we recommend adding new geographies to your network, which gives you extended access to more factories, manufacturers, and suppliers. This not only ensures supply chain operations continue to run smoothly without interruption; it also provides an adaptive advantage in the face of potential disruption. Consider this fact: according to a survey from the Institute for Supply Management, companies currently engaging with more diverse supplier networks have a better chance of addressing the effects of COVID-19 and tariff-related impact.

2
Join a multi-enterprise supply chain business network

To monitor, track, and mitigate any potential supply chain risk, you’ll need to invest in a network architecture that connects all business partners across the retail community. These digital platforms allow each one of your supply chain stakeholders to connect and collaborate simultaneously, allowing real-time communication on developing threats, like transportation interruptions, workforce shortages, natural disasters, or geopolitical restrictions. More importantly, these multi-enterprise platforms build and reinforce a single source of truth across your entire supply chain community, since all parties involved have 100 percent visibility into every operation. This allows you to make alternative business decisions or restorative actions to offset supply chain complexity. Learn more about the benefits of a multi-enterprise platform on our blog.

3
Perform product & supply chain costing simulation

As much as you want to avoid it, supply chain risk is inevitable. But the most effective way to manage supply chain disruption in real time is to have the tools to help simulate the cost impact of different key product and supply chain decisions. These tools account for a diverse range of factors, including Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) codes that are regularly updated to provide insights on design decisions that ultimately impact product classification and resulting duties. To learn more about cost analysis tools, read our white paper, “Mitigating Retail Risk with What-If Costing.”

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4
Develop systems resilience within your organization

Systems resilience is an organization’s ability to function with minimal impact to critical business operations amid major disruption. Ironically, the COVID-19 pandemic and its disastrous effect on global supply chains have proven to retailers just how important it is to address potential vulnerabilities before trouble begins. But according to Accenture’s Future System survey, only 10 percent of companies surveyed understand and address systems resilience. That’s why it’s essential for retail businesses to invest in cloud infrastructure and maintain systems resilience initiatives to mitigate operational pitfalls.

Learn how a multi-enterprise supply chain business network can help minimize risk in Gartner’s 2020 Magic Quadrant.

5
Innovate on customer engagement channels and revenue streams

If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that social distancing is bad for brick-and-mortar retail. As consumers stay home to avoid public gatherings, retailers feel the aftermath of decreased foot traffic and sales opportunities. That’s why retailers need to diversify customer engagement strategies and identify new streams of revenue based on core competencies for both B2C and B2B markets. Businesses that engage with customers through a variety of sell channels have a much better chance of sustaining operations than those focused on only one. Curbside pick-up, for example, is one strategy retailers can leverage to encourage sales while abiding by CDC recommendations to slow the viral spread. Compared to last year, curbside pick-up services among retailers surged a whopping 208 percent between April 1st and April 20th, proving the value of contact-less retail technologies.

6
Deepen communication and collaboration with suppliers

With employees working remotely and overseas travel shut down, cloud-based collaboration tools are a must to continue supporting merchandising and buying operations across your retail community. Virtual product sourcing tools, like the Bamboo Rose Marketplace, offer alternative solutions to overseas buying trips, making it easy to connect and collaborate with multiple suppliers from across the globe on a single network. The cloud-based software also lets users work from anywhere in the world, enabling instantaneous and simultaneous communication across your supplier community. You can learn about the benefits of digital sourcing by checking out our Marketplace case study.

7
Evaluate and resolve weaknesses exposed by COVID-19

Shifts in consumer behavior and the shuttering of factories and ports have resulted in lost revenue and delayed shipments for retailers, wholesalers, and suppliers. On the bright side, the pandemic has acted as a real-life stress test on organizations’ product and supply chain operations. Like Warren Buffet once said, “You only find who’s swimming naked when the tide goes out,” so retail leaders should view this as an opportunity to make positive, transformative changes once the COVID-19 crisis abates. To do that, supply chain leaders need to up their skills, technology, and process investments to ensure they’re stronger and more resilient to battle the next supply change disruption.

8
Don't forget to incorporate CSR and sustainability initiatives

Despite the devastating effects of China’s nation-wide shutdown, at least one good thing happened to come out of it: cleaner air! Throughout the country, carbon emissions fell by 25 percent over a four-week period, which is equivalent to about 200M tons of CO2. This is just one direct example of the pandemic’s effect on environmental sustainability. But you can extend that positive impact tenfold by prioritizing corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives throughout your organization. We’re living in a period of deep business and operational transformation, where company boards and executives have a much bigger appetite for innovative change. That’s why retail leaders need to take this opportunity to determine which CSR-driven changes can most benefit your business. To learn more about the importance of corporate social responsibility, check out our white paper.

Want to learn more about Bamboo Rose? Schedule a meeting with one of our retail experts today.

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