New Mobile Technology Necessary for Multichannel Retailers

Meagan Douglas
Mon, Oct 21, 2013

The modern supply chain has brought many challenges for companies working on multiple channels. Last month, a discussion posted by Retail Week and marine terminal operator DP World London Gateway asked companies for their opinion on data capture, inventory systems and how modern technology can function for their business. 

Berangere Michel, head of supply chain development at John Lewis, told the group that his company is at the forefront of the supply chain world because it allows customers to interact with the retailer any way they would like. This means making the supply chain and how customers can shop much more flexible. She said online sales represent 26 percent of total sales at her company, but giving the customer multiple ways to buy is the key.

"Research shows 29 percent of customers research in shop and buy online; 63 percent research online and buy in a shop; 19 percent of shoppers use mobile to research before they purchase," she told the group, according to Retail Week. "Mobile as a proportion of online sales is growing tremendously, but it's still just a twinkle in the eye."

No matter what solution a company offers, it should be quick, effective and able to adjust for inventory demand in real time to maintain customer satisfaction.

Taking the Initial Steps Toward Mobility
Companies are starting to take the first steps toward a more mobile supply chain, according to a report from Forbes insights and Google. More than two-fifths of technology executives surveyed said they use mobile to research major transactions.

Laurie Sullivan, senior writer and analyst at MediaPost, said more organizations are taking the initial step in using mobile in the supply chain. Consolidating functions to enterprise applications may be one of the first important moves a company makes, she said.

"Many manufacturing enterprise systems don't support mobile functions, so procurement specialists need to reexamine the workflow and business processes," Sullivan wrote. "Most have been built based on legacy systems. Corporate systems tie together a variety of very complex integrated platforms, and procurement will need to work with IT to build out a middleware layer that supports mobile."

Having mobile applications like RFGen for enterprise work will likely allow for greater productivity and efficiency at different organizations. Sullivan said audits and controls should be put in place to get the system started and help the company work together.

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