For many retailers it seems, the growth of omnichannel retail is less of a brave new world and more like a bad case of culture shock. Most executive leaders are doing their best to adapt their supply chains quickly to a business environment that’s become an unrecognisable landscape.
Omnichannel Retail Challenges for Execs
One of the biggest challenges in meeting the modern consumer’s buy-anywhere mentality is in inventory management. Where to hold inventory, how much to hold, how and where to move it, and how to return it—those might well be the omnichannel retail questions you and your colleagues are seeking to address while at the same time, just doing what you can in the moment to remain competitive.
Enter Big Data and the IoT
Some experts posit that the solutions for many of these conundrums, and to omnichannel retail supply chain challenges generally, can be met by embracing big data and the Internet of Things; two digital concepts which are growing up in parallel with the transformation of retail commerce.
Certainly it appears that these concepts will go a long way towards providing the visibility and agility that your retail business will need to develop if it’s to thrive in an omnichannel market. However they also introduce yet more new ways of doing things that few companies have mastered at this point.
With all this in mind, there has never been a better time or a more appropriate topic for applying a collaborative approach to issues common among most retail executives.
Until you have an opportunity to do that though, here are a few ways in which your company may be able to use big data and the IoT to tackle some of your omnichannel retail challenges.
The Data-driven Retail Supply Chain
If you equip your business with the tools to manage it, the proliferation of data that your operation generates can be put to much more effective use than it is right now. In the fast-moving omnichannel retail world, heuristics and intuition just aren’t going to cut it when it comes to strategic or tactical decision-making.
The good news is that advanced analytic platforms, capable of amalgamating and crunching data from multiple sources, are becoming affordable and easier to work with, thanks to the explosion in cloud computing providers launching SaaS applications for business analytics.
The hard part won’t be acquiring and implementing the software. The trickiest challenges will probably be attaining the culture change necessary to support a data-driven supply chain, along with the acquisition of specialist talent to get the most from big data.
IoT in the Retail Supply Chain
As sensor technology continues to advance, unprecedented inventory visibility will enable greater supply chain responsiveness—an essential requirement for omnichannel retail success.
From the manufacturing floor all the way to the customer’s door, your management team will be able to quickly identify inventory status at any time.
The data from sensors built into inventory, machines, and transportation assets will enable management by exception, with alerts notifying you of unfavorable changes in status. This means a consumer’s last-minute change of delivery address can be responded to immediately, even if her order is in the last-mile stage of delivery.
Preemptive alerts will even let you know when a vehicle or piece of production equipment is at risk of malfunction, enabling action to be taken before delays begin to present problems. Of course it will still be a while before the IoT delivers its full promised potential, but not so far in the future that adoption plans should stay on the shelf.
Network for Solutions
Whether you are seriously considering IoT or big data applications as an aid to your omnichannel retail strategy, the one positive is that you aren’t alone in facing the challenges. It’s at times like these that expanding and utilising your network of peers can help you come up with the answers you need.
Why not bring your omnichannel retail strategy issues to the Supply Chain Leaders Boardroom?
It’s a new concept in peer-to-peer collaboration and mentoring, soon to be launched and sure to be enlightening. Keep checking back at this website for more details and remember to complete the online form if you’d like information straight to your inbox.