5 Emerging Trends Poised to Transform Retail Supply Chains
Global retail sales are forecasted to rise to approach $28 trillion by 2020 in the United States alone. So, the sector continues its advancement. Unsurprisingly, retail merchandisers are under the pressure to optimize supply chain efficiency and deliver a seamless customer experience. Between unpredictable seasons and choosy customers, this is a real challenge. You must deliver on the expectations of today’s “commerce anywhere”. Not all supply chains are as dynamic as those in the apparel industry. Merchants strive to provide people the latest styles and overcome the competition by staying on top of industry trends. We’ve identified the trends that have had a major impact on the apparel industry. Read on to discover the top trends transforming retail supply chains.
1. Merging offline with online
The eCommerce industry is escalating at a rapid pace and only a few corporations are taking up the market share. Examples include but aren’t limited to Michael Kors, Nike, and Dior. Retailers are divided into two camps: online and offline. The aforementioned companies find success in a balanced association between online and offline. More precisely, they merge physical and digital retail to meet consumers’ expectations, who are always looking for new experiences.
Retail supply chains have to ensure excellent levels of service, regardless of whether or not people shop in-store or online. Retail merchandisers are required to make substantial changes across their organizations to be able to compete with the likes of leading companies. A significant percentage of consumers make in-store purchases because they wish to obtain the product/products immediately. You can’t afford to delay instant gratification.
What is the solution?
Retailers can use their web-based platforms to encourage customers to make their purchases in-store. Information makes the shopper more confident and gives them the ability to learn what they need. An application on the customer’s phone provides answers to all kinds of inquiries. Merging online and offline retail in an omnichannel reality takes time, not to mention specialized knowledge.
2. Predictive merchandising
Retail merchandisers play a very important role in the global retail economy, which is why they need to learn how to take advantage of data and predictive analytics. To generate site merchandising, it’s essential to integrate personalized product recommendations. When someone searches for fashion items online and their feed is all of a sudden filled with clothes ads, that is called predictive merchandising. What happens is that customer data is captured and analyzed to grow sales. What should you be taking a close look at?
- Purchasing habits
- Browsing patterns
- Personal preferences
- Average amount spent
Thanks to this information, you can put the right products in your customers’ hands. Instead of investing all your resources into the online platform, you should better try to understand customers. Learn where they are located, what they have shown an affinity for in the past, and so on. Big data and predictive analytics technologies enable you to identify leftover stock and enhance inventory management.
3. Artificial intelligence
Shoppers now have the world at their fingertips, so retail merchandisers must step up their game if they want customers to keep coming through the door. In terms of supply chain optimization, the focus should be on the range of digital technologies such as cloud-based solutions. A cloud-based solution can improve vendor compliance for retailers by ensuring real-time transaction visibility and monitoring partner performance. by digitizing the supply chain, it’s possible to anticipate and serve customer needs better.
Besides cloud-based solutions, it’s important to consider artificial intelligence. AI is helpful for inventory management, warehouse operations, demand forecasting, replenishment, fulfillment, etc. The question now is: What do retail merchandisers have to do is to leverage the benefits? Well, spending on AI in retail supply chains must increase significantly. It’s necessary to get budget approval for important projects implementing artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Supply chain management has seen a great many changes in the last years. There is no way of knowing what the future will look like, but one thing is for sure: AI will play a very important part. Retail merchandisers can do whatever they want to ensure optimal operation. You can use interactive screens and kiosks to make the garment catalog widely available. It’s only an example. As long as you focus on strategic activities, it’s okay.
4. Creating easy delivery and pickup
Delivery for purchases, whether online or offline, has come a long way. To be more precise, people expect and demand speed and convenience when it comes down to delivery and pickup. Many companies promote in-store pickups for online orders. Customers simply scan the bar code, which is located at the top of the email, and someone will bring over their purchase. In-store fulfillment allows for a faster supply chain. So, a store isn’t just a store.
Using a store as a fulfillment center is no easy thing. In addition to redefining the processes, it’s paramount to pay attention to the use of space, inventory, and staff. If you’d like to emulate the success of companies such as Amazon, think carefully if you want to develop your own rapid fulfillment digital shopping platform or partner with an established organization. Physical locations are more relevant than ever and it’s worthwhile to have a mini distribution center.
5. Eliminating the high cost of returns
A rise in eCommerce sales automatically leads to a rise in the number of returned items. People should be able to freely return purchases. Unfortunately, this results in extremely high costs for the retail industry, costs that are associated with receiving, inspection, and re-storage. Eliminating returns isn’t possible, so what is there left to do? Correcting human error and making efforts to personalize the shopping journey. More often than not, returns are caused by a change in opinion or shipment of the wrong items.
Luckily, tons of data are available, which can be used to gain a richer understanding of how to market products appeal to various customers based on their actions. Return policies can change, as this practice may no longer be viable for some businesses. Anyway, it’s necessary to optimize the end-to-end supply chain. Returned items should be organized to minimize inventory costs, labor requirements, not to mention space demands. Reverse logistics is an integral part of supply chain management.