Relationship building, low-cost tech investments and sustainable transport solutions hold the key to retailers making their operations their competitive advantage, says Zencargo’s Richard Fattal.

The retail environment has completely shifted over the past six months. Increased competition and more customers moving online have led chief executives to look inward on how to make their supply chain agile. 

Supply chain agility traditionally meant being as low cost and efficient as possible through lean end-to-end operations.

What was defined as agile can now be seen as fragile, as stock needs to be available in order to meet the ecommerce demand. It was great to get together this month on RWRC’s panel with head of supply chain Simon Kempston and Running Bear founder Catriona Marshall to discuss what agility means for retailers today.

“What was defined as agile can now be seen as fragile”

Agility has become an essential ingredient in order for businesses to compete. In today’s environment, agility means being able to make decisions closer to the time of sale.

Retailers often believe that once plans are set and orders are placed, it becomes stuck in a ‘frozen zone’. The retailers that have performed well during this period have realised that orders can still be changed later on if they have the right technology and mindset to do so. 

Make your supply chain your competitive advantage 

Enabling agility comes down to the relationship that retailers have with their suppliers and network coupled with the right technology. 

“Retailers that have performed well during this period have realised that orders can be changed if they have the right tech and mindset”

Executives have realised that digital transformation no longer has to be a complicated and expensive project. Technology has enabled businesses of all sizes to get access to sophisticated platforms that can implement change in a matter of days.

I’m proud to work with such amazing people at Zencargo who have been focused on delivering this transformation to retailers. 

Having a system where all data is consolidated gives retailers the visibility they need. By linking manufacturers, warehousing and logistics data, retailers can flag, validate and act on issues quickly and effectively. The retailers that have more control over their inventory and can be more agile are clearly winning and we are lucky to work with many of them. 

It is important that retailers maintain strong relationships with their suppliers in order to get the information at the right time. Suppliers have increasingly become more of a competition in today’s ecommerce world.

Sustainability continues to stay front of mind, and retailers have to consider a sustainable supply chain in order to satisfy consumer needs. Transportation has a substantial impact on sustainability, and giving retailers a baseline of their carbon footprint will help them understand what has to be done. 

Covid-19 has changed the way that retailers look at their supply chain. Investing in connecting information and people at the right time to make the right decision will determine whether retailers survive or die.

Richard Fattal co-founder Zencargo

Richard Fattal is co-founder of Zencargo. Zencargo recently hosted a virtual event with Retail Week on supply chain agility. 

Listen to the virtual event recording for free to learn more about how to make your supply chain your competitive advantage.