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Supply chain transformation cannot be delayed just because it’s hard to achieve

Getting everyone inside a retail business to collaborate around the shared goal of serving the customer better sounds easy, until you remember that this was not how retailing was set up.

Driven entirely by supply from scratch, the industry did not expect today to have to turn things completely around the other way, to focus on demand.

As a result, while it is clear that people, processes and systems have to work in harmony around the needs of the customer, if retailers are to beat off competition from newer players entirely unencumbered by legacy thinking or technology, transforming supply chains is hard to do.

Joined-up supply chain transformation

First of all, most retailers have discovered early on in the transformation process that, while it can be easy to make changes here and there, it can be a lot harder to join everything together.

Individual departments have worked with individual technology companies and consultants to fix the problems unique to their own operations, with little regard to the impact this may have up or down the supply chain, or even further out in the wider ecosystem of carriers, 4PLs and product suppliers.

However, the goals remain shared – to satisfy the demanding, sophisticated, fickle and connected consumer, no matter how unreasonable their demands – so this is still the best place to start.

Single view of stock, data and customer

Fortunately, the common currency that all departments can collaborate around is data – data about stock and data about the customer. This data drives what we are calling the perfect order in our new report, ‘Delivering the Perfect Order.’

We have identified that there are six key characteristics of a successfully transformed retail supply chain:

  1. Full visibility the length of the supply chain
  2. Full internal and external collaboration for retailer and supplier
  3. Digitised and automated processes
  4. Single view of customer, stock and order
  5. Full product traceability
  6. Supply chain processes driven by real-time consumer demand, not forecasts.

A supply chain transformation strategy built around these six characteristics provides all parties with the blueprint for collaboration, both in planning and execution.

Transformative technology

It also provides a platform for innovation through advanced technologies. These include artificial intelligence, which can automate certain processes and optimise their performance quicker than humans can, enabling the retailer to respond to demand in near real time.

Add to this, cloud and edge computing, which ensure that the data is always where it needs to be to enable efficient operations, but also in the hands of those closest to the customer as well as in the hands of the customer themselves.

Ultimately, everyone is in the order management business, once systems are able to predict demand to drive the whole supply chain, from original product manufacturer all the way to the end customer.

To discover both the opportunities and pitfalls in supply chain transformation, join us at the OpenText™ Innovation Tour 2018 and receive a copy of our new report.

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