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  February 22nd, 2017 | Written by

Retail: The Supply-Chain Shift

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  • The key new challenge for the retailing supply chain.
  • Retailers not addressing customer experience risk losing competitive advantage.
  • Some retailers consider customer loyalty their top priority.

Retailing is entering a new, digital world that has redefined the process of delivering goods to customers. For supply chain executives, notes a recent white paper from eft, “the focus is shifting from how goods move from place to place, to providing the ultimate customer experience when shoppers receive (or need to return) them.”

These new realities create a key new challenge for the retailing supply chain: to improve the visibility, speed, and real-time communication between retailers and their most valued customers. The alternative: risk losing competitive advantage.

A survey undertaken by eft found that retail supply chain leaders understand the importance of the customer experience. “Retailers are coming to know the importance of gaining control of the delivery process and leveraging the technology to create a transparent and flexible supply chain, to provide the customer the optimal experience,” the white paper stated.

Retail supply chain executives are also struggling with technology that does not address customer experience needs. “Many retailers are still not up to speed with the technology necessary to upgrade the supply chain,” according to the white paper. “This requires commitment and investment in innovation.”

Among other priorities, supply chain professionals in the retail industry want to integrate the customer experience into their operations. This requires the gathering, aggregating, and analysis of real-time data, the white paper noted. “Third-party know-how is often key to leveraging that data,” the paper concluded.

They also sometimes desire innovation that is at odds with the traditional operational metrics. Most retailers regard profit margins as the holy grail. But some are increasingly considering customer loyalty the top priority. “Ultimately,” the white paper concluded, “the customer delivery experience may become a vital market differentiator.”