4 ways retailers can improve supply chain management

Retailers and their suppliers are under more pressure than ever before to deliver more goods to more destinations faster.

To stay competitive, “retailers need to know where things are at all times so they can redirect shipments, rebalance inventories and respond to new demands on the fly,” says Rich Becks, general manager, Industry Value Chains, E2open, which delivers cloud-based supply chain collaboration solutions.

And if there is a problem with their supply chain, and they can’t get products to stores and/or consumers, retailers (and their suppliers) risk losing customers.

So what steps can, and should, retailers take to make sure their supply chain operations are running smoothly? Following are four suggestions from retail supply chain experts.

1. Use cloud-based software that can track and manage inventory in real time.

“Retailers struggle to balance uncertain consumer behavior and long, complex supply chains,” explains Kurt Cavano, vice chairman & CSO, GT Nexus, a supply chain technology company.

2. Use source tagging and RFID to keep track of inventory and stock levels.

“To improve supply chain management from the moment product leaves the manufacturer’s warehouse all the way through to the point-of-purchase, retailers should deploy a source tagging solution,” says Steve Sell, director, North America Marketing, Retail Practice, Tyco Integrated Security.

3. Become a part of a B2B e-procurement network.

“B2B [or e-procurement] networks can help companies predict supply chain disruptions and act quickly to adapt business processes,” says Sundar Kamakshisundaram, vice president, Procurement and Business Network Solutions, Ariba, an SAP company.

4. Make sure your marketing and supply chain teams are in sync.

“When executing a promotion, a lot of retailers overlook the alignment of the supply chain and marketing teams, which is crucial [if you want] to successfully launch a promotion,” says Pat Sullivan, senior vice president, Promotions Management, HAVI Global Solutions, a consulting company.

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