The Candid Voice in Retail Technology: Objective Insights, Pragmatic Advice

The State Of The Supply Chain

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We recently conducted some research around the retail supply chain, and our plan is to work with our partner on that research, Blue Yonder, to present the findings from it in a big way at the NRF Big Show in New York in a few weeks’ time.

Will that show actually happen? Will it become a virtual event? At this point, as cases of COVID-19 surge due to the omicron variant, it’s anyone’s guess. For my own sake, I’m scheduled to moderate a panel, I’ve got a flight and hotel booked, and I’m currently trying to remember how to iron a dress shirt for the first time in nearly two years.

But either way, whether that show goes off as planned or not, here’s a sneak peek at some of what we found:

  • The good news is that retailers report significant progress in addressing problems associated with demand forecasting and visibility into available-to-sell inventory anywhere within the enterprise. However, when it comes to greater visibility into the supply chain, especially alerts for unexpected supply shortages and critical inventory situations anywhere in the supply chain, over 60% of retailers cite real problems.
  • When it comes to the opportunities at hand, retailers have vastly different viewpoints by vertical: Fast-moving-consumer-goods retailers are most focused on the ability of their suppliers to meet service level requirements. General merchants are most interested in achieving visibility into available-to-sell inventory anywhere within the enterprise, and Fashion & Specialty retailers are in nothing short of a defensive crouch – battered by constant disruptions with no end in sight.
  • Retailers agree that their biggest internal roadblocks result from decades of focusing on efficiency at the expense of agility. However, while they cite this – in combination with too much reliance on shippers to self-manage their own disruptions – as their largest organizational inhibitors, it is only once we begin to look below that surface that we see the ensuing factors that have brought these issues about.
  • As it relates to technology enablers, the retailers we surveyed are clear: they are thoroughly dissatisfied with the technology solutions they’ve already invested in to support supply chain management. Well over 50% say they are going to have to replace systems they’ve already installed. This is a far bigger problem than we even anticipated it could be.

As is customary, we conclude the full report with baseline suggestions to assist retailers in moving forward, and Blue Yonder has put together some really clever infographics and press materials that you’ll be seeing at the time of the big launch. Let’s just all hope it can happen in New York the way we’ve planned.

Hope to see you there!

Newsletter Articles January 4, 2022
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