For retail success, a secure supply chain is everything. In today’s unpredictable climate, life is especially challenging for retailers as they face labour shortages, the compromised availability of equipment, and the global bottlenecks, exacerbated by the conflict in Ukraine.

Disruption of service

During the pandemic logistics carriers reduced capacity and are now struggling to get back up to full strength as the volume of demand rises. Congestion has caused disruption of service and increased prices and retailers are experiencing this at every level – from ocean freight to last mile.

This persistent unpredictability means that retailers are have to review their supply chain operations to find the agility and innovation that will help them weather the volatility of today’s market and anticipate future challenges.

Technology holds the key

Technology holds the key. The pandemic and ongoing global disruption to the supply chain has forced retailers to innovate more quickly. This new digital-first approach can help retailers modernise supply chain operations harnessing the power of cloud and automation on top of the predictive analytics already mentioned.

Technology offers companies the possibility to optimise speed, tag packages with RFID tags (decreasing the possibility of manual error) and harness software to provide operational oversight and automate supply chain distribution. Larger global retailers are going the digital twin route – recreating facilities to maximise productivity, minimise disruption, troubleshoot and identify potential pitfalls ahead.  Moving operations to the cloud is another option for retailers struggling to shore up supply chains.

Data drives the future of retail

Digitisation of processes enables the capture and analysis of data, which can deliver real-time insights into the supply chain and help to predict consumer demand. Retailers increasingly are focusing on better managing customer data  to improve customer experience, and data is also driving their new approach to marketing.

Typical data usage might be the analysis of customer preference data, the use of stores for edge warehouses and fulfilment, the use of demand signals and the fleshing out customer profiles anticipate local demand.

The pain of digital onboarding

Technology is the future but onboarding new processes invariably causes downtime and disruption. Adopting new digital capabilities is a necessary but painful process; as the industry also struggles to manage ongoing challenges, transition to different systems can also mean significant losses.

Not all changes to supply chain operations are tech-based. Some retailers are diversifying their network of suppliers to address consumer demand. But correspondingly there’s also a focus on domestic production – driven by the impact both of COVID-19 and of ESG targets. It’s not just a question of hitting targets – increasingly, commitment to sustainability can strongly drive customer choice. The majority of European retailers have already begun changing the way they source products to help meet their goals.

The contract explosion

All of this means an increase in the number of contracts that retailers have to manage across their logistic operations and supply chains – adding to the burden of bureaucracy and new digitisation. Contract management software can help ease this burden. Four Business Solutions can help retailers lessen the burden with our contract management software of choice – Contract Insight.

Contract Insight is our intelligent, cloud-based contract management software solution, which can help retailers innovate to create agile supply chains. Why not get in touch to find out more?