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The Future Of Retail Supply Chain Management

When we think of the future, many of us think about machine automation and how this will support the evolution of supply chains. Supply chains are regularly transforming to keep up with increased demand for retail, which has meant that the retail sector has rapidly accelerated with exciting prospects for the future.

Many non-essential shops have now reopened, and retailers and e-commerce businesses alike must take additional steps to ensure they meet the government’s COVID-19 secure guidelines. Retailers and wholesalers should be taking additional measures to keep goods moving to store shelves and consumers’ doorsteps, following a significant change in health restrictions and consumer behaviour, which has resulted in a knock-on effect impacting retail operations.

As a leading same-day courier service in the UK, we understand the importance of embracing supply chain management otherwise you may be at risk of falling behind. As customer expectations progress, delivery services are required to evolve fast. With lockdown restrictions easing, there’s no better time than now to adapt and prepare for a surge in demand.

Future supply chains will be customer-centric and will need to operate in the ever-changing digital world in order to drive revenue and meet unprecedented demand. Success in the supply chain will rely on having advanced technology to be purpose-built and long-lasting.

Re-engaging Customers

With non-essential retail stores now open throughout the UK, the spotlight has moved towards re-engaging customers by retailers becoming more customer-centric than ever before. Retailers have their work cut out as customers returning to the world of retail must now adhere to new safety rules, social distancing and a whole new set of concerns. 

Following months of social isolation and COVID related fears, it’s even more important for organisations to become more focused on customers to understand new problems related to fear, social isolation, social distancing and to think about those customers classed as high-risk who aren’t able to leave their homes. This attempt will aim to meet these new unmet wants and needs in a way to adhere to ‘the new normal’.

The pandemic has forced retailers to mount urgent efforts to adapt their supply chains. Retailers must accept the reality that many of their consumers no longer feel safe visiting stores, which is why there should be methods of adaptation to accommodate for this. This results in a higher need for offering delivery and collection options as incentives to encourage more nervous consumers to still support local and nationwide retailers. It’s up to retailers to step up their efforts to provide consumers with essential (and even non-essential) goods and to protect the health and well-being of the communities they are serving.

Those retailers who do offer this to customers that require special considerations due to their personal risk, are more likely to create loyal customers in the longer term.

Reliable Fulfillment

With more consumers self-isolating, quarantining and staying at home due to the pandemic, there has been a notable increase in online shopping and local deliveries for non-essential goods. 

In order to meet demand, whilst complying with social distancing measures, warehouses and wholesalers are operating wider collection windows. This relies upon having a reliable and 24/365 operational delivery service that can meet later collection times. Dedicated vehicles can ensure delivery times are still met, even with later collection windows and customers will receive their orders on time. 

online order fulfilment

Intellectual Automation

To drive supply chain management forward in the future, intellectual automation will be required to keep production in full flow, which will include artificial intelligence, voice-activated technology and predictive analytics which will become key enablers in meeting the demand for supply chain management.

Intellectual automation is based around digitalising processes to adapt tasks depending on what is needed in the supply chain management during every stage. As an example, this could be gathering data, data entry, creating reports, forms or invoices, and managing data for each product in the supply chain.

The need for technology to learn, understand and analyse the supply chain will provide retailers with precious time to focus their efforts on thriving. Intellectual automation will be able to take on any requests for analytics, including charts, reports and even making optimised and rapid decisions that would otherwise take much longer.

Green Logistics

With retailers required to keep up with their retail supply chain management as time progresses, it’s also critical to focus on energy efficiency, renewables and having low carbon footprint when distributing retail goods to consumers or other businesses.

The pandemic has already forced retailers to mount urgent efforts to adapt their supply chains, whether to offer a faster and more convenient delivery service or to exert better control over inventory levels in terms of sourcing and stocking – particularly for retailers still dealing with unsold and unseasonal stock.

This might involve bespoke technology, optimised routing or warehouse consolidation, allowing for an extended operational window and reduced handling. We understand that as a retailer, your deliveries or collections can vary in size, which is why we ensure the correct sized van to safely deliver or collect your retail goods.

Increasing efficiency and cutting back on unnecessary costs is more important than ever. It’s time to reevaluate your collection and delivery process and cut out anything that does not add value for your business and its customers.

Retailers will need to create a sustainability strategy with their supply chain logistics to further unlock their growth. Sustainability is recognised as a key pillar for retailers’ strategies, so it is important to understand why and how steps can be taken in their efforts towards the environment.

Greener logistics will minimise the impact on the environment through inventory management, warehousing, distribution, order fulfilment and transportation.

Advancement Of Skills

Of course, as we see the advancement of technology to effectively improve and automate processes in the retail supply chain, we must see an improved need to significantly advance the skills of those working in the supply chain.

Rather than taking care of monotonous data entry and spreadsheet management, these leaders are now able to focus on wider processes, such as decision making, analysis and day-to-day tasks to keep the supply chain moving, where machinery wouldn’t be suitable.

These processes will be automated so that future supply chain leaders will be able to handle purchase orders and deliveries with all information intelligently presented to them in a matter of a few clicks, which may even be accessed through the use of voice commands.

‘Drop and Go’ Deliveries

As shopping centres begin to re-open their doors to consumers following the ease of lockdown restrictions, individual retailers are putting in additional precautions to ensure the safety of their staff and their customers, ensuring little contact is made. 

One strategy retailers are already adopting is to have suppliers bypass distribution centres and ship goods directly to stores. They are also simplifying assortments and packaging so that suppliers can make same-SKU full-pallet shipments to a hub or retail stores. This approach puts shipping speed ahead of product variety at a time when many consumers would rather have adequate supplies of key items than a wide assortment.

How Crown SDS Will Cope With The Future

Our delivery solution provides manufacturers with more production time, as products can be fast-tracked to regional hubs by our fleet of vans. 

It remains key that manufacturers, distributors, retailers and courier services in the supply chain must work together to remain agile and operate with a lean approach, in order to achieve sustained success for now and in the long-term.

When it comes to retail deliveries, efficiency, time and cost savings are of the highest concern. Our experience in working across a wide range of sectors makes us a knowledgeable and reliable logistics partner for businesses from a variety of industries. 

At Crown SDS, we create transparent retail delivery solutions and deliver a rapid-response, supporting retailers in building a resilient and effective supply-chain.

Our retail courier service is used by large brand names nationwide, which includes fashion, home-ware, garden tools and office supplies. We handle supplier collection and deliveries any day of the week, at any time, so you can trust us when we promise your consignment will arrive on time, every time.

If you’d like to find out more about our retail courier service, please get in touch with us.

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