Auburn University’s Center for Supply Chain Innovation and the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), in partnership with DC Velocity, today released their seventh annual “State of the Retail Supply Chain” report. The document provides in-depth analysis of the front-burner issues facing America’s retail supply chains, while also highlighting various tools and leading practices to compete in an evolving marketplace.
This year’s study is the culmination of research derived from industry hot topics, executive input, and emergent issues. The report sought participation from organizations with annual revenues above $1 billion, omnichannel capabilities and broad geographic activity. The Auburn University research team gathered insight through interviews and online surveys with America’s top retail supply chain executives, as well as industry analysis.
“Adapting to the hyper-competitive landscape requires supply chain capabilities that attract customers and grow the business,” noted Brian Gibson, executive director of Auburn University’s Center for Supply Chain Innovation. “Supply chain executives must integrate operations across multiple channels, use analytics to drive supply chain decisions, and monetize supply chain capabilities. Our report provides extensive discussions of these initiatives.”
Supply chain integration is essential for achieving that financial balance. Inventory, fulfillment centers, and strategies can no longer be channel-specific. And, while omnichannel is a logical strategy to pursue, retailers must remember that customers don’t care about channels or supply chains. They just want choice, effective solutions, and positive experiences. It is up to the supply chain executives to figure out how to best integrate their operations so that channels are transparent to customers and service is spot-on.
Analytics are beginning to play a critical role in serving those customers with accuracy, timeliness, and consistency at a reasonable cost. Supply chain professionals are putting more emphasis on forward looking tools that will help them diagnose problems, predict demand, and prescribe action. As those internal analytical skills become more robust, retailers will be able to use their vast cache of POS data and customer loyalty information for more effective supply chain planning and decision making. And those supply chain decisions must support the economic vitality of the organization. As we have discussed in the 7th annual report and previous installments, retailers cannot survive by cutting costs.
Monetization of the supply chain and fulfillment operations also means focusing on revenue generation through strategic investment in differentiating capabilities. That differentiation is the key to customer retention and profit growth. As we rapidly move through 2017, it must be noted that there is no magic pill to cure the ails of struggling retailers. When it comes to battling the Amazon syndrome and other health issues, retailers must deploy integration, analytics, and a holistic monetization strategy.
“2017 is a banner year for the retail supply chain and this report provides a tremendous benchmarking opportunity for today’s supply chain leaders,” said Lisa LaBruno, senior vice president of retail operations for RILA. “As retailers focus on innovation and moving their supply chains into the future, this report provides the insight and tools to help prioritize investment and increase marketplace competition.”
Click here to download the report (registration required).