We’re moving rapidly toward a more automated future, where people can make purchases faster than ever before, with the ability to shop for just about anything right in the palm of their hands. The rate of technological advancement is almost mind-boggling, and the potential seems endless.
But having the technology is not enough; it needs to be harnessed. While some fields advance at the speed of light, other industries – like retail – are actually beginning to fall behind.
Most retailers are so busy running their businesses that they can’t allocate time, personnel, money, and other resources toward figuring out how to apply the latest technology to their existing business plans.
We do already know what the future of retail is going to look like, but it’s a matter of getting there. Not just for the big-box megastores, but for the small businesses, the start-ups, and everyone else, too. Tech might just be the rising tide that lifts all ships when it comes to retail – especially in one significant area.
The most significant change on a large-scale basis will emerge in the form of improved supply chains.
Here are a few ways to prepare for the retail supply chains of the future:
1 Rethink your role. Stores no longer sell products, they sell services. More often than not, stores are essentially showrooms where people can interact with a product in person before buying it online. That can still be a profitable business model – in fact, several pop-ups are experimenting with it as a potential long-term format for their brands. But if you conclude that your store’s purpose is no longer a space for browsing, where an item will be found and then bought, you will need to adjust the entire supply chain according to your new fundamental goals.
2 Streamline your sources. To make your supply chain work, especially on a national scale, you might have many retail partners and work with many distribution centers. Many people manage these moving parts by thinking of them separately, but the key to optimizing your supply chain is truly seeing it as part of a single chain; this will help you spot opportunities to streamline your systems, from an overhead view. If you have a complex operation, there are platforms, like ShipNow, to do that analysis for you. But it’s not just about external plot points. Consider the stores and storage you have at your disposal, and make sure you’re using them to their full potential. This can include repurposing — like keeping more inventory at your larger, emptier, or better-positioned shops. ShipNow takes your resources into account in terms of geography, customers, inventory, and more to streamline your entire supply chain.
3 Allow for agility. You’re also going to need to change fast to accommodate advances in the way we do business, as well as customer expectations. That might involve technological updates, but it can also mean extremely close-to-the-ground, last-minute modifications like redirecting orders to distribution centers with higher inventory or assigning markdowns according to a store’s intake and sales needs. Building your system up so that it can easily adapt down the line is going to set you up for the most successful outcomes – not just today, but for years to come.
It might seem like a dramatic reimagining, and completely different from the way things are usually done, but the sooner you start preparing for the future, the more successful you’ll be when it comes.
You can skip several steps in advancing your supply chain with ShipNow and the suite of products of Biglynx 'Warehouse as a service'.
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