Retail Bricks And Mortar Race To Overhaul Supply Chains

February 3, 2016 Ken Klaver

The 2015 shopping season threw more than a handful of wrenches into just as many retailers’ supply chain management strategies, and as they try to dig themselves out of those holes in 2016, some high-profile brands aren’t being shy about big changes.

The Wall Street Journal reported that brick-and-mortar retailers are taking some serious looks at reforming their supply chains to be better suited to a blend of eCommerce activities instead of configuring them to support in-store operations first and foremost.

In particular, The WSJ noted that retailers like Williams-Sonoma and Walmart have begun investing in predictive software for more accurate and timely inventory forecasts.The 2015 holiday shopping season threw more than a handful of wrenches into just as many retailers’ supply chain management strategies, and as they try to dig themselves out of those holes in 2016, some high-profile brands aren’t being shy about big changes.

However, David Hauptman, vice president of product management at logistics consultancy firm Geodis SA’s OHL, said that there’s no such thing as a consensus on what the brick-and-mortar retail world needs to compete.

“The ground is shifting beneath us, and the dust has not settled,” Hauptman told The WSJ. “Nobody’s found the answer yet.”

While brands continue to experiment to find the right blend of cutting-edge tech and the cost required to implement it, some have taken to improving their in-store path to purchase instead of starting at the warehouse level. For example, when DSW now runs out of an item in one of its stores, employees can order the customer’s desired item then and there through the retailer’s site. While it’s not a silver bullet for supply chain woes, DSW CEO Roger Rawlins does see it as one of many small steps forward.

“[It] ultimately allows you to grab additional market share, and then as we learn through using all these capabilities, we hopefully should be tweaking to be able to generate incremental profitability,” Rawlins toldWSJ.

If baby steps are all that retailers can change by at this point, their online counterparts should be able to rest easy.

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