Retail Week surveyed 50 supply chain, IT and tech professionals for the new Chain Reaction report to understand where they are placing their bets – and the areas they do not see as business-critical.

Data analytics and real-time supply chain visibility (42%), accurate stock levels (36%) and improving warehouse and factory working conditions (30%) are the top investment priorities among 50 retail supply chain and IT leaders surveyed for Retail Week’s new report.

Produced in association with GreyOrange, Chain Reaction: 50 leaders on the new thinking and tech reinventing retail supply chains lifts the lid on retail professionals’ investment priorities and challenges, how they feel about their role and leadership team, and what they believe is required for successful strategies.

Investing for today


Despite multiple column inches devoted to the labour shortages impacting retail, only 6% of the 50 executives said hiring externally was an investment priority for their businesses.

Equally, while there is a lot of focus on the opportunities of using stores as part of the delivery network, only 10% are prioritising micro-fulfilment (ie: delivering from urban distribution centres or stores).

When it comes to where these retail executives believe their businesses should be investing today to drive change, as opposed to where the investment is actually happening today, 30% said they wanted their retailer to collaborate with more third parties, followed by reskilling frontline staff on fulfilment (16%) and diversifying suppliers (14%).


Where retailers are betting for the future

Looking ahead, the largest volume of leaders surveyed (50%) perceived on-demand delivery services to be the most transformative technology for the future of their business’ supply chains, followed by warehouse robotics automation (42%) and predictive data analytics (42%).


However, there is a gap in short-term supply chain strategies and long-term planning. 

A disconnect

For example, on-demand delivery is only a current priority for 22% of the 50 retail organisations represented in the survey, and the implementation of AI-driven robotics automation within the warehouse is highest on the agenda for just 18% of supply chain leaders.

These figures suggest the most transformative tech investments for future-proofing the supply chain are not being met by the majority of the industry and retailers need to start expanding their focus.


Get the latest insights on how retailers are investing by accessing Chain Reaction: 50 leaders on the new thinking and tech reinventing supply chains for free today. 

The findings provided will help you to:

  • Understand what your supply chain strategy must look like going forward
  • Navigate new thinking required at chief executive and board level to optimise decision-making
  • Find out why Zara, Ocado and Tesco were named by retail professionals as businesses leading the charge
  • Get closer to the technology you must invest in to stay ahead of disruption