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

More than 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 industry-related disruption, we’ve highlighted 8 tips retail organizations can follow to enhance agility and adaptability in response to supply chain risk.

Diversify sourcing and manufacturing operations

When it comes to product sourcing, 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 industry-related impact.

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.

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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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 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.

Innovate on customer engagement channels and revenue streams

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 is one strategy retailers can leverage to encourage sales while abiding by CDC recommendations to slow the viral spread. According to research from Incisiv, shoppers have increased utilization of curbside pickup services by 85 percent since the start of the pandemic. Adapting to this demand will be particularly important for retailers in the food & formulated industry.

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.

Evaluate and resolve weaknesses exposed by disruption

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 health 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.

Don't forget to incorporate CSR and sustainability initiatives

Worldwide carbon emissions declined by 7 percent in 2020 as a result of the global response to Covid-19. The decline in carbon in 2020 was the most significant drop in recent history, with emissions falling by 2.4 billion tonnes. You can extend that positive impact tenfold by prioritizing environmental and social governance (ESG) initiatives throughout your organization. A truly agile — and anti-fragile — supply chain involves more than alternate sourcing. It also requires new transportation routes and improved logistics. Spending on global reverse logistics technologies will spike in 2021 — forecast last year to hit $604 billion by 2025 — as retailers seek to alleviate a major pain point in the shopping journey and minimize the costs of returns. The vision for a more sustainable future and a reduced carbon footprint remains a key objective. To learn more about the importance of ESG initiatives, 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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