January. Whether you see it as a dull, grey, long month (why does it feel like there’s 5,847 days?) and you can’t wait for it to be over or whether perhaps you take the more optimistic view and regard it as the exciting start to a promising new year, there’s one thing that binds everyone. If December is about looking back and reflection, January is for looking forward.
As a retailer, it’s always imperative to look forward, too, and what better time to move processes forward is there than January? Keeping operations moving quickly and smoothly has never been more important. Here’s our list of the top 3 supply chain issues, and what can be done to avoid them.
1. Forecasting and data
Let’s get back to basics: the most obvious issue that a supply chain can face is a lack of supplies! Modern consumers lack patience when it comes to finding products and if they can’t find it via one of your channels, you can bet that they’ll begin searching for it elsewhere. The key is to be able to accurately forecast demand and recognise the trends and dynamics that lie behind shifts in demand. The best way to do this? Data. Collating, analysing and using the information that can be acquired from customer activity, insights can be gathered into behaviour and trends forecasted. Using an omnichannel supply chain solution such as Merret Pro offers real time data, so that it’s easy for merchandising teams to see what’s selling well and where, so that decisions can be made to either replenish or to send more stock to a certain area or store. A WSSI is another useful tool for in-season planning, enabling future stock levels to be calculated in comparison to targets
2. Managing demand
Success – you’ve created an amazing product and now everyone who shops in your Oxford Street store wants one. However, whilst it’s selling fairly well in other stores, it doesn’t seem to be doing as well in Sheffield or Bristol. Items must be in the correct place, at the correct time, in order to maximise profitability; having something in stock but in a location where it is not needed is always a problem. By moving stock to around to where it’s needed can mean a lowering of costs alongside an improvement in profit margins and, of course, a rise in customer satisfaction. Critical to ensuring that demand is met by managing distribution is an allocation and replenishment system that ties into a warehouse management system in order to fulfil stock based on order volumes or sales: by utilising these two aspects together, the process is well-functioning, efficient and can recognise where items need to be located and when. By using your stores as distribution hubs, stock can be moved not only from your warehouse but also items that have already made it to the shop floor
3. Lack of information
It doesn’t matter who you are or where you work, a lack of communication is bad for any business. However, a lack of sufficient information stalls the whole supply chain process and also negatively impacts the customer experience. The best way to ensure that things run smoothly is to create a central place to enter all product information, then to collate it, manage it and disseminate it. The best way to do this via a product information management (PIM) system, which allows teams to collaboratively work on the same product, before publishing the data out to all the relevant digital channels. Customers who are shopping via digital selling channels have all the required product information to make a successful purchase, with consistent product data no matter where - or how – they’re choosing to shop. This streamlined process also helps teams to step away from working on multiple spreadsheets, where human error can cause even further miscommunication, meaning that both customers and colleagues can benefit from this process.
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