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The Top Retail Supply Chain Bottlenecks (And Solutions)

Increase Visibility, Improve Forecasting and Reduce Costs

Delivering a seamless, end-to-end customer experience, from first touchpoint through to transaction and delivery is essential to delight customers and maintain a competitive edge. However, retail supply chain challenges surrounding visibility, forecasting, cost reduction, and automation can all hamper business growth.

Recent research from ASCG revealed that out of stock items translated to lost sales for 46% of retailers during the previous holiday period. Moreover, 32% of retailers stated that supply chain issues had increased their overheads and diluted product margins, directly impacting their bottom line.

In addition, technology challenges are exacerbating retail supply chain issues for many businesses, making it difficult to accurately monitor stock levels in real-time and swiftly respond.

Organisations can no longer afford to bank on outdated technology to maintain a competitive edge, and with global supply chain disruption set to continue well into 2022, businesses must dig deeper to bolster their delivery operations. This is easier said than done, as supply chains become increasingly complex and customers expect greater speed and flexibility.

In this article, we explore some of the most common retail supply chain bottlenecks and reveal some of the most impactful steps your business can take to overcome them.

Lack of end-to-end visibility and inaccurate forecasting

Lack of visibility across the retail supply chain is a common challenge for businesses, and its impact can be significant. Negative outcomes include inaccurate forecasting, supply chain wastage, increased costs, and inefficient operations just to name a few.

Fortunately, building an end-to-end e-commerce stack covering the frontend user experience, transactions, and integration with backend retail supply chain and delivery operations can help to combat visibility and forecasting challenges.

Engineering predictive analytics capabilities into your logistics systems can further strengthen your retail supply chain and reduce the burden on customer services teams, allowing staff to reinvest their time and attention towards more valuable initiatives.

At NearForm, we delivered a fully automated data platform for a mega-retailer to combat data silos and data modelling challenges, creating secure and instant cloud access across global teams. During the project, we provided a combination of capability building and DevOps leveraging Azure, GCP, Python and Node.js.

We reduced the retailer’s scenario modelling time and cost by 50%, reduced the time to market for new launches, and unlocked logistics cost savings. As a result, the retailer can now expand its scenario modelling into new business areas for greater agility and infinite scalability.

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Inefficient manual processes contributing to rising costs

Operational inefficiencies within the retail supply chain typically stem from a lack of visibility, poor forecasting, and unwieldy manual processes. A combination of inaccuracy and human error can lead to unforeseen delays, a disjointed user experience, and frustrated customers.

Building automation into your retail supply chain wherever it’s viable to do so is one way to accelerate repeatable processes, iron out errors, optimise deliveries, and reduce costs. Recognising the value that automation can bring to your supply chain is just the first step; to truly harness the benefits, you need robust, flexible automation tools that integrate seamlessly with your delivery operations.

Having highly performative, robust ERP, logistics and forecasting systems in place can help. Harnessing our retail and e-commerce expertise, we can help you modernise, integrate and speed up your backend systems to accelerate business-critical processes, unlock efficiencies and reduce costs. Related Read: Modernise Your E-Commerce Architecture with Open Source

Out of stock in-store items leading to lost sales

Not only do out of stock in-store items result in frustrated customers, but more often than not, they translate into lost sales. And while some buyers will go on to order a product online if it isn’t available at their local store, many will either shop with a competitor instead or simply abandon the purchase altogether.

Equipping retail staff with the right technology in-store is key to avoiding this scenario. Digital assistants using devices such as iPads can arm staff with the ability to help customers locate stock elsewhere and order it on the spot to a convenient location, whether that’s at home delivery or in-store collection.

Extending your e-commerce platform using linked microservices can make overseeing stock levels across multiple locations in real-time possible, empowering retail staff and driving revenue.

Retail supply chain: How we can help

At NearForm, we help retailers deliver highly responsive customer experiences, decrease the time to market for new features and services, and join the dots in their retail supply chains to optimise operations and reduce costs.

Leveraging our expertise in shopping applications, we help our clients move towards more efficient, modern technologies with layered architectures , multi-platform frontends, and micro-frontends. Our retail solutions operate at the highest levels of scale, security and resilience to create digital advantage for years to come.

Download Our Guide to Open Source for E-Commerce

We've put together some practical advice and tips for integrating open source solutions into e-commerce digital products.

Get the eBook

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