Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Retailers must define what works for them

Today's consumers are well-informed, technology-savvy and short on time. To ensure their business is where customers will open their wallets this festive season retailers must deliver a seamless shopping experience. This is only achievable through an agile and efficient supply chain. Seamless retail should be for life, not just for Christmas and that the backbone of efficient supply chain performance is best practices.

Flexibility is the key for logistics operations, where being able to adjust all the time is a best practice. At the heart of supply chain performance is fulfillment - choosing, shipping and delivering. Calibrating fulfillment to ever-changing business needs is a prerequisite of great supply chain performance, and that is what all best practices are aimed at achieving.

Best practices, does not however mean always getting the latest merchandise on the market or doing exactly what the competition did last year. It is about understanding your operations and your costs thoroughly, getting the best return on investment, satisfying your customers and understanding that you are never done with the job.

It's critical to understand that best practices are business-specific. The tools to implement best practices - manufacturing, warehouse or transportation systems, conveyors or sorters - are commercially available, but success depends on implementing and optimizing them with a thorough understanding of the operation involved. Every operation has its own requirements and constraints that set it apart from the others. Your best practices are the ones that give the best return on investment in the context of your business.

Choosing a technology solution is also not that straight-forward anymore. There are a lot more players in the market – and a lot more promises. Look for a “concept-to-customer” solution. This needs to include certain elements: everything from strategic network design (where you're deciding where best to locate distribution and fulfillment facilities) to network supply planning (optimizing your network supply based on forecasts generated by demand planning) to event management (proactively managing exceptions across global supply chains). Above all, find a solution provider that understands and appreciates that retail never sleeps.

The power that change brings should serve as the biggest wake-up call for retailers; a warning to avoid getting so focused on one best practice or one implementation that they take their eyes off their business environment and risk missing opportunities to adapt and stay on top. Companies today must strive for continuous improvement for today and tomorrow.


Post a Comment