Retail perspectives, pt. 3: reduce supply chain disruptions

As retailers navigate the new economic environment and plan their recovery from lockdowns due to COVID-19, they need to re-configure their operations to overcome vulnerabilities in their supply chain network that were exposed by the pandemic. While the scale of disruption we are seeing right now is unprecedented, the challenge itself isn’t new. During the last decade, organizations have gained operational efficiencies, become leaner, and in the process, have become less resilient to disruptions caused by a myriad of triggers.

In this third installment of a three-part blog series on best practices for the retail sector—as well as a virtual fireside chat now available to view on-demand—we explore what it takes in today’s economic environment to gain visibility into your end-to-end supply chain management, control operational costs, mitigate fraud risk, and leverage increases in e-commerce activity.

The imperative for new, resilient supply chain models

Disruptions are hard to predict which makes resilience in the supply chain network paramount to ensure that customer demands are met on time. Businesses globally have responded to past disruptions to improve resilience, but lack of end-to-end visibility still seems to be the primary driver for vulnerabilities in the supply chain mainly due to lack of real-time data from a single source of truth. Reliable and timely information can enable businesses to become more agile as they can see upstream impacts to their suppliers as well as downstream effect to their customers.

Businesses are unable to commit to delivery dates that’s significantly jeopardizing the desired customer experiences resulting in cancelled orders, increasing the risk of losing those customers. Businesses need real-time visibility into their inventory and stock levels across all their stores and warehouses so that they can ensure on-time delivery. With real-time visibility, businesses can drive demand for overstock items and expedite replenishment of out of stock items.

With social distancing and lockdowns, operating business remotely is significantly altering a customer’s daily experiences. Customer demand has not only significantly shifted but has also become difficult to predict, including demand shifts to lower-margin products coupled with decreased productivity in fulfillment centers.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management helps organizations rapidly re-plan supply and distribution of products in near real time to adapt to shifting customer demand. Traditionally, re-planning supply and distribution takes hours and days, and by the time an organization reacts based on the new plan and updates strategy, the demand has shifted again especially during a pandemic. With Supply Chain Management, one can accomplish this in a matter of minutes.

Twilfit, one of Sweden’s leading lingerie chains, is using Supply Chain Management to respond to customer demand faster—running orders in a few minutes which historically took up to nine hours. Twilfit can compress lead times by at least two days now and is smarter about the inventory their stores keep on hand. It has reduced unnecessary overstocks while adding variety and more of its high-demand items, making both its employees and its customers happy. Read the full story.

Clearing excess stock is becoming a top priority to help ensure liquidity and make room for additional products or services.

Organizations now need to rapidly develop an agile fulfillment strategy to meet this varying demand while striving to deliver a great customer experience. With an intelligent distributed order management system, businesses get a single global view of their inventory so that they can intelligently manage, automate, and optimize order fulfillment to ensure on-time delivery in a cost-effective manner. This ensures that the inventory is not only stored closest to where the customer demand is, but also in the right quantity to reduce the time to fulfillment. It helps drive down excess inventory.

Together, Supply Chain Management and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Commerce take the guesswork out of trying to manage an omnichannel operation. With all businesses operating remotely, how do you ensure that you have accurate on-hand inventory and you are only selling what you have stocked across all your channels? What do you do if you are low on stock for high-demand items and which fulfillment center or stores would you fulfill the orders from?

Supply Chain Management and Commerce can help address these issues and provide real-time solutions for managing inventory, resulting in a better experience for today’s more demanding customers. Contact us for a free business assessment workshop where you can envision with our partners, supply chain visibility solutions such as control tower, to create resilience.

Join our virtual fireside chat: Best Practices for Thriving in the Retail Industry Today

Debuts Tuesday, June 30, 2020, 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM Pacific Time.

Register for this conversation with Microsoft experts to learn about best practices from the retail sector, including how to mitigate fraud risk, control operational costs, gain visibility into your end-to-end supply chain management, and leverage increases in e-commerce activity. Learn from Microsoft’s partnerships with global retailers on how to protect revenue first, setting up your organization for growth in the new economic environment.

Hosted by Alysa Taylor, Corporate Vice President, Business Applications and Global Industry Microsoft and Shelley Bransten, Corporate Vice President, Global Retail and Consumer Goods, Microsoft.

We also recommend

  • Learn more about Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management and Dynamics 365 Commerce
  • Tune in to the Connected & Ready podcast series:
    • Going direct to consumer – part 1, with Na’ama Moran
      Host Gemma Milne is joined by Na’ama Moran, CEO of Cheetah, for a conversation about making the shift from B2B to direct to consumer, the importance of iteration, and how working collaboratively with your supply chain partners can drive success for everybody.
    • Rebuilding your business online, with Richard Wang
      As businesses have had to make the switch to contactless shopping almost overnight, they are finding new ways to connect with their customers. In this episode of Connected & Ready, host Gemma Milne is joined by Richard Wang, CEO of Coding Dojo, to discuss how volunteer coders have helped small businesses move online, the trends they’re seeing, and how business owners can stay focused to launch quickly and enable business continuity.