CBX continues our special ‘News’ series with their insights from NRF’s Big Show.
NRF 2015, Retail’s Big Show’s big picture can be summed up in a few words – retailers want to deliver a seamless and real-time Omni-channel experience. It is a reality today that most consumers are always connected, know what they want and believe they should get it immediately, from any channel. It is now the retailers who are doing the catching up to make that a reality. It was evident from attendee interaction that retailers are particularly concerned with technology and the role that tech plays in delivering the ultimate personalized shopping experience. Big Data, analytics, customer engagement tools and mobile were all still on the top of everyone’s list from last year but they were also focused on optimizing the supply chain to support the front end.
Retailers have and continue to pay a lot of attention to their front-end operations, connecting with the consumer and finding product to satisfy them no matter where it is but they do not always have the inventory to complete the transaction. Disparate systems and disconnected inventory management are still a challenge for many retailers when it comes to optimizing their entire supply chain.
The other subtle but noticeable change noted was that Cloud was everywhere and seemed to be more the “norm” this year than in past years. Although adopted by certain retailers, Cloud did not reach the mainstream until mobile provided a significant shift in its value. It is the new paradigm for global, real-time data and retailers were looking for backend solutions to improve the Omni-channel experience. Few retailers today are able to offer a truly seamless Omni-channel experience. While historically the backend has not been a big focus, at this NRF it was at the forefront. Planning, sourcing and ordering the right product mix at the right time and at the right cost to meet consumer demands and gross margin goals is a must. This requires real-time collaboration with suppliers, trading partners and third party agents and partners throughout the product lifecycle to make Omni-Channel a reality.
Supply chain collaboration across all channels, powered by the deployment of cloud technology is the key enabler to a retailer’s Omni-channel sourcing strategy. Today, retailers must re-think their supply chain strategy not only from inventory to the consumer, but from plan to shipment. Retailers need complete visibility into their inventory across all their channels and at all points across their supply chains. With disparate systems supporting the supply chain, the addition of the latest supply chain technology leveraging cloud, mobility and real-time social collaboration can deliver a truly seamless view of inventory: from order through production and in-transit. Merchandising can view the status of orders with time to delivery to make allocation decisions to fulfill need across the selling channels and make shorter decisions based on consumer demand when “in the know.”
Connecting the entire supply network gives the retailer a competitive edge for speed, efficiency, savings and agility. Having this type of visibility is essential to Omni-channel sourcing so retailers can truly deliver an enhanced customer engagement and really connect to the connected consumer.
We look forward to 2015 with a renewed focus for retailers on the early stages of the supply chain to complete their Omni-Channel intiatives.