Linking Customer Experience and the Supply Chain
Retail marketing teams can work hard to build and polish an organization’s reputation and create strong relationships with shoppers. But if their promises are not kept by the operations staff, that investment is wasted.
Slow delivery or badly-timed shortages can have lasting consequences. That makes speed, accessibility and traceability as critical to success as product design and quality. Retailers increasingly appreciate the competitive advantages provided by new digital supply chains as they connect retail stores with consumers, manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, franchisees and employees.
When done correctly, forecasts and actual sales closely match. Further, a supply chain sense-and-respond capability equips retailers to predict demand and influence consumption, while avoiding inventory obsolescence.
Modernize the core
Omnichannel operations require retail enterprises to develop an intelligent core powered by cognitive technologies such as robotic process automation, machine learning, natural language processing and artificial intelligence (AI). Smart workflows, digital assistants, geofencing, radio frequency identification and blockchain simplify management of dynamic global supply chain networks.
Infosys took into account those factors when it developed its Live Enterprise Suite, which seeks to create an algorithm-driven supply chain that optimizes resource utilization and strives for zero latency across the retail network. The goal is to predict customer orders, delivery time and logistical issues, and recommend a course of action for faster and easier order fulfillment.
End-to-end process optimization, automation, and AI-driven logistics and warehouse operations minimize human intervention, ensuring supply chain efficiency at both e-commerce and hybrid stores. In addition, cloud-hosted solutions provide real-time visibility into products, orders and delivery schedules. This allows businesses to better align supply and demand by eliminating bottlenecks causing service delays, expanding the capacity of distribution and fulfillment centers, and optimizing inventory management.
Ultimately, that enhances the customer experience, which is an increasingly important goal for organizations.
An assessment of the supply chain network can uncover opportunities to take advantage of automation and economies of scale, which can rationalize costs and improve service levels. Significantly, it aligns demand and capacity management, and repurpose spare store capacity into warehousing centers. Further, fulfillment transformation programs empower brick-and-mortar retail stores to offer the aggressive delivery timelines demanded by e-commerce enterprises.
However, improving fulfillment capacity alone cannot sustain revenue growth. Such programs should integrate the order management system, product item master, and financial solutions. It is also supported by supply chain analytics and data-driven risk mitigation solutions for sustainable business outcomes.
A perpetual inventory system lets a retailer like Nordstrom offer a consistent multi-channel shopping experience while realizing top-line growth. It customizes inventory based on customer preferences collated from social apps and campaigns. Omnichannel marketing strategies are integrated with the global inventory management system, which allows customers to verify the stock position prior to ordering. The system ensures prompt fulfillment of orders, whether placed through social media, the Nordstrom website or mobile app.
In another part of the retail system, 7-Eleven uses business intelligence dashboards to identify trends in customer demand. The retailer undertakes cloud-based visualization and advanced analysis for accurate supply chain planning and inventory management, which increases sales as well as enhances the store experience.
Approaches like these are within the reach of organizations worldwide. Businesses should adopt algorithm-driven supply chains that can optimize resource utilization by accounting for the convergence of marketing channels as well as non-linear demand. New systems can predict customer orders, delivery times and logistical issues and recommend a course of action for faster and easier order fulfillment. These kinds of advances are no longer technological luxuries but business necessities.