In the modern retail market, most businesses are already comfortable using structured data to learn more about their customers and drive future sales. In the last decade, though, the rapid development of technology has produced “hyper-connected” consumers that create more data than they consume. This has had two important effects: It’s produced vast seas of unstructured data, and it’s presented the retailer with more “siloes.”
Managing the supply chain efficiently is crucial for every retailer, and improving its overall performance can drive sales, reduce operational costs, and make the customer experience better. Basic supply chain goals are still unchanged. The core principles can be summarized thusly:
1) Make the chain as efficient as possible. Make the process as transparent and automated as possible, minimizing the amount of manual oversight and decision-making required at key points.
2) Brink stakeholders in the supply chain closer together. Vendors, suppliers, distributors, and even customers should get a clearer view of how the supply chain operates both in general and in specific cases.
3) Preserve agility and stay proactive. Potential problems need to be addressed as soon as possible, eliminating the risk of escalation. IT tools should be deployed to spot performance issues before they become evident to stakeholders or negatively impact the operations of chain-end retailers.
Omnichannel retailers have an exciting opportunity to take a leap forward in managing supply chain data. By uniting real time data acquisition Big Data principles and analyzing both structured and unstructured data, Omnichannel can help create a smarter, more efficient supply chain that’s more visible throughout its entire length.
At the retail level, all systems need to be fully integrated. Retailers need to strategize their best responses to particular supply chain issues. For instance, would it be possible to alter one store’s replenishment quantity for one SKU if its next shipment is just hours away from being loaded on a truck? Retailers need a firm grasp of how data operates throughout the chain to understand the possibilities.
Big Data principles and advanced analytics can have a number of benefits in both the design and operation of retail supply chains. Some methods include:
1) Better Planning And Scheduling. Inventory problems and stock shortages can be eliminated when full-length visibility makes it easier to make good stocking decisions.
2) Better Demand Planning. Inform historical data on demand with unstructured estimates gleaned from users to continually improve the accuracy of each forecast made.
3) More Responsiveness. Use analytics to minimize the uncertainties caused by inventory shifts and seasonality. This leads to accurate, automated scheduling and decision-making even when complex dependencies are being managed.
4) Better Planning And Utilization Of Inventory. Dynamic rules, policies, and predictions for inventory management lead to more accurate tracking and estimation of consumption and inventory levels at all points along the supply chain. This can be done with updates to your barcode printers and scanners and a better EPOS system for instance.
5) Precision Replenishment. Use a fully integrated information sharing network to maximize service and minimize costs while ensuring that the right products, in the right quantities, reach the right places at the right time. This process leads to advanced fulfillment options like BOPIS — Buy Online Pickup In-Store.
6) Real-Time Reporting And Decision Making. Ensuring that information is shared and used in real time makes the system more agile and allows a host of different decisions (on inventory routing, fulfilment quantity, etc) to made faster and more accurately.
7) Optimizing For Omnichannel. Minimize delivery delays, make expediting cheaper, and make the whole program more successful.
Although a lot of software vendors that provide ERP and other forms of retail software have attempted to start considering these issues, no one has yet taken a holistic approach. It’s only a matter of time before this market opportunity is seized by a company offering an integrated and effective solution.