Managing the supply chain is now a more crucial business function than ever before, but is your business making the most of its potential?

In a recent global survey by PwC, 50% of the retail chief executives questioned said their supply chain is a competitive differentiator for delivering higher margins at lower costs. But 83% also thought that supply chains aren’t optimal for meeting multichannel needs.

These are just two of the reasons supply chain directors have grown in importance at retail companies in the past five years, and why it can be so positive for companies to put the supply chain at the heart of the business.

Supply chain directors are crucial to delivering consumers a truly multichannel experience. Are they recognised for the strategic importance they bring to the business? The supply chain department is a strategic asset within a retail business; job functions are now broader than ever and the role is focused on strategic growth. But they also face a greater level of scrutiny, particularly in light of the seasonal trading peaks that dominated the end of 2014.

The PwC research also showed only 15% of retail chief executives believed their supply chains were resilient enough to withstand potential external disruptions, but 24% said investing in supply chain management solutions is a critical area of financial investment in the next five years.

Optimising the supply chain can result in 15% lower costs, less than half the inventory levels and shorter cash-to-cash cycles. But how many supply chain directors still operate in silos?

Part of properly preparing for peak demand is bringing supply chain directors into the boardroom, putting it at the heart of business decision making, and improving collaboration across all departments.

Before asking if you’re ready for the peak season this year, it is also worth asking is your supply chain at the heart of your business? And if not, why not?

We will be discussing this topic in more detail next week at the Supply Chain Summit – for more information click here or if you’re interested in attending email katie.barker@emap.com