RSR Research Agenda
- Survey Release:
- Report Release: Mar-2021 View Report
Managing Through Disruptive Times With Data Driven Speed And Adaptability
The retail industry has been subjected to an unprecedented amount of upheaval in the past year. What’s more, there are no signs that the uncertainty surrounding the ways consumers shop – and the way retailers are able to fulfill those shoppers’ needs – will ease up any time in the foreseeable future. As a result, we surveyed retailers to find out how they plan to manage their planning cycles and supply chains in a time of constant disruption.
- Survey Release: Mar-2021
- Report Release: Jun-2021
Contactless Retailing: Order Orchestration And Fulfillment
Most of us have not seen a year quite like 2020 in our lifetimes. But along with human and economic tragedies, we also saw the acceleration of retail trends that we knew were coming “someday.” Still, a surprising few were prepared.
Most notably we have seen an incredible acceleration in contactless retailing. For the purposes of this research, we will consider contact retailing as:
- Pure eCommerce: buy online, deliver to customer via some form of package delivery service with days of the order
- Same Day Delivery: buy online, deliver to customer from nearby stores or distribution centers within hours of the order
- BOPIS: Buy online, pick-up in store
- BOPAC: Buy online, pick-up at curb
Of course, nowhere was this more dramatic than in the world of grocery and fast-moving consumer goods. But there are long-term impacts to other retail segments that are worth pursuing. Two issues, in particular, loom large: 1) What are the implications for mall-based retailers? How can they support curbside pick-up? And 2) What will happen when BORAC (buy online, return at curb) becomes a thing? No one wants to wait on customer service lines, most especially during a pandemic
We know that the most profitable retailers have been making technology investments to support contactless retailing for some time. Especially in fast-moving consumer goods, there is so little margin in every item sold that efficiency is a profitability imperative.
This begs the question: what’s the current state of contactless retailing? Consumers want it, retailers will deliver it, but how many gross margin dollars will be lost in the process? What technologies have they been buying to support these initiatives, and finally, what are the implications of having an “at home” workforce to supervise the orchestration?
- Survey Release: Apr-2021 Active
- Report Release: Jul-2021
Creating Business Advantage With Location Intelligence
The world has changed. To be successful, retailers must have deeper knowledge of their local areas, so they can react quickly to continued changes yet to come that will affect business outcomes.
RSR’s 2020 study on the state of Location Intelligence sought learn about the ecosystem: “How does the industry run operations in the midst of a pandemic that can flare up in unexpected places, die down, and then flare up again?”
As the pandemic winds down, we find new uncertainties and new changes: how far has the retail ecosystem progressed in its efforts to infuse operations with location intelligence? Can Location Intelligence provide the answer to seemingly intractable questions? Which technologies has the industry settled on to make that happen, and what stands in the way? Which operational processes have the most to gain from geo-location awareness? And finally, is location intelligence creating a new competitive wedge for winners?
To learn the answers to these questions, we need your help. Please take this survey. It will take between 5-8 minutes to complete.
Paula & Brian
- Survey Release: May-2021
- Report Release: Aug-2021
The Retail Supply Chain – Achieving Agility Without Sacrificing Efficiency
The COVID-19 pandemic uncovered some significant failings in the retail supply chain. It became obvious that the operational efficiencies retailers have achieved over the past thirty years have not helped make that same supply chain more agile. The challenges highlighted by the pandemic are not new: now they are just more urgent.
Retailers’ supply chains have long-sacrificed flexibility for efficiency. While this may have worked in the past, it does not work right now. RSR’s 2020 study on the imperative to use new data analysis technologies in the supply chain revealed that over-performing retailers were exploring using predictive modeling to anticipate supply chain disruptions and to be able to recommend cost-optimized corrective actions. But it was also clear that AI-enabled predictive models for such things as labor and transportation costs across the supply chain – or finding optimal DC-to-customer locations to lower costs while still satisfying customer needs – were not yet seen as must have technologies.
The 2020 report pointed out that, “Winners have a tremendous head start when it comes to leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning… the time to move is absolutely now… those who invest in making their business run smarter in these times will stand a much better chance of not only surviving – but in making up some ground.”
This begs the question: what’s the current state of enabling a more agile supply chain in 2021? What technologies have retailers settled on to enable modernization of the supply chain, and can they balance the need to enable an agile supply chain with maintaining or even improving on hard-won efficiencies?
- Survey Release: Jun-2021
- Report Release: Sep-2021
An Agile Merchandising Lifecycle In The Age Of Disruption
With the exception of fast fashion, the merchandising lifecycle has been less than agile for many years.
Now, in the pandemic even as fast fashion falls a bit out of favor and consumers expect more sustainability, the pandemic has changed requirements. It’s time to push the “go faster” button. But it begs the question: go faster in which direction?
The answers are not so simple. We have pre-pandemic data and pandemic era data – but really don’t know what will stick and what won’t. Retailers and their merchandise vendors must find ways to create a more iterative and faster design, produce, allocate, ship cycle.
What are they thinking? Is near-sourcing an option? What technologies do they believe can support them? And….how will they implement those technologies with a predominantly home-based workforce?
- Survey Release: Jul-2021
- Report Release: Oct-2021
Rebooting Independent Retail
The Independent Retailer had a rough time in the COVID pandemic. Repeated lock downs, enhanced safety precautions, and the sudden consequent explosion of contactless sales were too much for many to absorb. Even though consumer sentiment does seem to be moving towards supporting local retailers, environmental factors have made for a very challenging environment.
How have the luck ones survived? What will it take to thrive? Are Independent Retailers ready to re-emerge as the pandemic comes under control?
These are the questions we seek to answer in this study.
- Survey Release: Sep-2021
- Report Release: Dec-2021
Are Retailers And Consumers In Sync On Social Responsibility?
In the middle of a global pandemic, one would think that sustainability and environmental and social responsibility would take a back seat and fall off the front pages of the news.
It turns out just the opposite occurred. The impact of climate change brought once-in-a-lifetime wildfires in California and Australia, a massive number of tropical storms in the Atlantic, recognition of the oceanic problems caused by single-use plastics caused many governments to ban them, and inhumane practices in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region led to calls for a boycott.
Of course, retail store and distribution center employees achieved “front-line worker” status and consumers took note of who rewarded those workers and who did not.
While some believe that concerns about sustainability and sourcing are limited to those with enough money to care, others believe that environmental concerns are here to stay and represent yet another hallmark of the generational shift we have been talking about for several years.
The purpose of this research is to find out if retailers and consumers are in sync on this issue. Is it simply a “luxury” that the wealthy care about, or is it reaching into the very core of consumer consciousness? And, do retailers get it?
- Survey Release: Oct-2021
- Report Release: Jan-2022
Research Slot Available For Your Ideas In Time For The Big Show!
Every year, RSR leaves two research agenda slots open for retailer and vendor suggestions. This is the one of those slots.