Retail supply chains are under the most pressure as shopper habits continue to change. From brick-and-mortar locations to a company's website, the supply chain is nearly the single most important factor in customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.
Perhaps the biggest change is that consumers are no longer willing to wait - regardless of where they are making their purchases. A sure way to lose business is to have sub-par inventory control in the distribution warehouse or a retail stock room. Customers have too many options nowadays to wait around and even with high customer loyalty, chances are they can go down the street or to another company's website and find what they are looking for there.
Data Collection For Improved Visibility
According to Multichannel Merchant, data collection and analytics are key to breaking down siloed systems and creating a complete end-to-end picture of the supply chain. In addition to being complete, that picture must also be compiled in real time so that managers are working with information that allows them to fix inventory issues before they impact the customer.
Multichannel Merchant explains managers who only analyze older data will be finding out about the problem at about the same time the retail outlets are calling to report a shortage of stock. With automated and mobile data collection solutions, information related to inventory coming in and going out of any warehouse or stock room can be analyzed. Managers will know where product is all the time and how they can quickly refill merchandise at certain locations.
For retailers that also provide e-commerce sales, the demand for improved data collection is two-fold. Servicing the needs of online consumers as well as those in the store creates an extremely complex system. While some orders will be shipping in bulk to a retail outlet, others will travel to individual customers around the country or even the globe. Furthermore, while one supplier is used to meet the demand of retail outlets, another may stock distribution warehouses for the e-commerce side of the businesses.
There is also the issue of purchases made online and then returned in store. This impacts inventory and supply chain managers must be able to identify such a transaction quickly. With new data collection software, companies can connect their e-commerce and retail businesses like never before, offering a superior experience in-store and online.