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Author's profile photo Joerg Koesters

Retail Supply Chain Shortcomings in an Omnichannel Environment

I’ve just re-read a recent Bloomberg Businessweek survey on supply chain innovation. It did put into context just how much the supply chain needs to transform. Supply chains have not only become increasingly complex and globalised, but suppliers are being squeezed to deliver maximum value for the minimum cost, and control is rapidly moving into the hands of consumers, who expect what they want, when and where they want it. In fact, today’s hyper-connected customer expects just about everything to be faster and instantly available (Tweet this). So the need to transform has by now become a reality for all Retailers.

Retailers in particular must reinvent their supply chains into flexible infrastructures with both inventory visibility and intelligence to accommodate consumer expectations who want to shop seamlessly across store and online presences and want to be able to choose on where and how to receive the goods. According to the Bloomberg Businessweek survey, a whopping 73% of companies say supply chain tools are important in meeting their company goals, yet the painful reality is that many are falling short in delivering the type of detailed information fast enough to compete in the brave new world. Left unchecked, this huge functionality gap could put entire businesses at risk.

One of the biggest problems is analytics. Seventy one per cent of respondents claim their current analytics tools only provide insights about prior performance. You can’t predict requirements just by looking in the rear view mirror.  To make matters worse, 59 per cent claim their existing supply chain analytics tools are too slow and that it simply takes too long to get an answer.

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How is anyone supposed to make decisions rapidly and accurately using outdated, traditional systems? The short answer is you can’t. Clearly, it’s time for a rethink. Traditional supply chain tools cannot keep pace with the digital modern commercial landscape. And they certainly can’t keep you competitive.

Commerce engines such as customer relationship management and content management are bringing knowledge from the digital space and offering information on customer interactions such as online research and purchasing. Put it all together, and you’re able to leverage insights that will enable you to better personalise and contextualise end-to-end experiences to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Rethinking the supply chain isn’t just about harnessing data (Tweet this). Retailers are also expected to accommodate both physical and digital multi-channel experiences. Like it or not, the omni-channel environment is upon us, making the need for supply chain agility and innovation greater than ever.  Obsolete supply chains designed for a single channel world have no place in today’s market.

Retail leaders have taken this one step further already and talk about Omnicommerce which means a seamless experience across all channels with consistent experiences, flexible delivery, inventory visibility and availability across channels.

If your supply chain systems cannot master the flow of relevant data, chances are you will not be competitive (Tweet this). Success  – and in many cases, basic business survival – depends on having real-time information that enables you to make decisions quicker while giving you visibility, predictive capabilities and most of all, control of your commercial destiny.

I will be continuing to blog about this topic as it evolves. Looking forward to hearing from you. You can leave a comment in the comments section below, email me at or send me a tweet at @joergkoesters

You can also take a look at the complimentary report from Bloomberg by using the banner below.

Regards, Joerg

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