Retail Supply Chain: The Ultimate Unsung Holiday Hero


The holidays are a time of joy and cheer, but for retailers, it can become a very frustrating time of year.  To ease these frustrations, we’ve rounded up three blog posts that explore how retailers use supply chain strategies to alleviate holiday stresses and where the future of supply chain operations for retailers is headed.

Retailers Optimize Inventory and Logistics with Technology

For retailers, preparing for the holiday season is a monumental task.  They must make sure they have the right amount of product inventory to satisfy customer demand, and that doesn’t account for any unpredictable events.  New supply chain technologies allow retailers to better balance their merchandise during the holiday season by:

  • Reducing extraneous spending due to costly expedited shipping by using technology to gain visibility into their inventory.
  • Maintaining well-built supply chains with controls and measures to prevent shipments from falling behind and to ensure compliance.
  • Ensuring warehouse and transportation needs are met in an efficient manner.

Find out more about how retailers are integrating supply chain technology with their holiday season preparations.

Retailers Adjust to Consumer Shopping Preferences and Patterns

Retailers need to adjust their supply chain logistics to prepare for the future of e-commerce.  With the convenience of online shopping, many consumers avoid brick-and-mortar stores during the holidays.  Though the final data isn’t available yet, Logistics Management reports:

  • $3 billion in Cyber Monday sales are expected this year for the first time ever, which would mark a 12 percent annual increase and a 50 percent increase from 2012, according to Adobe, and the same $3 billion sales figure was also reported by comScore.
  • Black Friday sales dropped from $11.6 billion in 2014 to $10.4 billion in 2015, according to data from ShopperTrak.
  • Online sales between Thanksgiving and Sunday were up 17 percent to $8.03 billion, according to Adobe.

This means supply chains need to become more adaptable.  Supply chain operations must be flexible when tackling issues such as fulfillment, distribution, changes in inventory management, setting up regional distribution centers, and optimizing shippers and providers.  They must be able to fix issues on the fly in an efficient and effective manner.  Jeff Berman looks at how online holiday shopping patterns are influencing the future of supply chain logistics operations.

Retailers Leverage Every Channel Available

E-commerce may represent the present, but omnichannel supply chain is the future.  Consumers demand more options for purchasing and shipping, making supply chain logistics critical during the holiday season.  The seamless interplay between brick and mortar stores and their online counterparts is important for retailers to succeed.  Unfortunately, just 20 percent of retailers are investing in proper growth strategies to link the two operations. This is a glaring missed opportunity for many retailers.  For example, buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) is becoming more popular, yet only 23 percent of retailers provide the service.

How will you use your supply chain this holiday season?  Tell us on Twitter!

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