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By: Steve Kadolph, Retail Supply Chain Solution Principal at SAP Retail Inc.

There is no doubt that the most important challenge facing retailers and the retail supply chain today is the new nature of the role of the consumer in retail. Just two years ago, retailers were still in control – of their markets, of pricing, and of the selections they made available to consumers. But now, all of that has flip-flopped 180-degrees. Today, in more and more cases, the retailer is now at the mercy of the consumer. Armed with their mobile devices, consumers have become searches; they know more than they’ve ever known and they are constantly looking for new information – not just about prices, but about value, too.

Facing the New Multi-Channel Challenge

The proof is in the new retail research. Gartner recently reported that 66% of all store shoppers do some sort of information gathering before they actually go into an establishment, and of those, 85% know the price their willing to pay for an item before they walk through the doors. This unprecedented access to information has changed everything about the consumer – about how they shop, where they shop, and when they shop – and this, in turn, has changed everything about the retail supply chain. 

It is from multi-channel that retailers say they are feeling more pain than any other area of the supply chain. Regardless of the channel the consumer is shopping through, the retailer is finding it difficult to show one face to the customer – be it a traditional brick-and-mortar store; a Web presence; new mobile devices, such as smart phones; or newer technologies, like Twitter, Facebook, and other social media. For retailers, the new challenge is to create a consistent multi-channel experience that allows seamless interaction with each and every consumer, no matter which channel it may be.  

Feeling New Pressures from Globalization and Sourcing

In addition to the multi-channel challenge is the effects of globalization on the supply chain as retailers – even mid-tier retailers – continue to expand beyond the US. As retailers reach more and more countries around the world, understanding consumer demographics becomes paramount in offering and managing new product assortments. At the same time, brand proliferation has become a bigger concern than ever – not just from the point of view of the products the retailer offers to consumers, but the products consumers are willing to buy off of the retailer’s shelves. Furthermore, increasing globalization is impacting sourcing as never before and retailers are now forced to continually seek out new supply chain transportation efficiencies.   

Solutions for the “New Supply Chain” at SAPPHIRE NOW

At this year’s Sapphire Now in Orlando from May 14th through the 16th, retailers from around the world will gather to see SAP’s latest supply chain solutions that address these unparalleled challenges and give them back control. These include solutions for end-to-end visibility – not only within the context of the retailer’s supply chain, but also their extended supply chain, including their logistics, manufacturing, and wholesale partners. Sapphire Now attendees will also learn about SAP’s newest solutions for end-to-end business processes. These solutions empower the retailer to seamlessly transact business in virtually any supply chain scenario – and take retail’s “new supply chain” by the horns.

For more information, check out:

SAP Retail at SAPPHIRE NOW

SAPPHIRE NOW and ASUG Annual Conference

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