The supply chain has risen to the top of the agenda across boardrooms in the wake of the pandemic, logistics experts revealed at a recent Retail Week event.
RWRC’s virtual event in association with Zencargo, The New Battleground, which you can watch here for free, examined how agility across the supply chain can help turbocharge success across businesses.
Catriona Marshall, former Hobbycraft chief executive and owner of Running Bear, said in the wake of recent challenges for the retail industry there has been a huge shift with how the supply chain is viewed and as a result it has been “ramped right up to the top of the agenda”.
She added: “If retailers don’t invest now rapidly in supply chain, which really means technology and collaboration with suppliers primarily, then they’re just going to be left standing if they survive at all. It’s become suddenly the most important thing on the agenda.”
Simon Kempston, head of supply chain at AO.com, said: “It’s great to see supply chain come to the front now. We have been in the background for years. We’ve played a huge part in running the business but been quite invisible, whereas now we’ve become extremely visible.”
“We’ve played a huge part in running the business but being quite invisible, whereas now we’ve become extremely visible”
Simon Kempston, AO.com
Kempston added: “We were previously trying to make our supply chain as lean as possible, but stock is now the new currency – you have to have it to sell it. Customers want that confidence to see you have that stock available and they can get it tomorrow, or in some cases today.”
Richard Fattal, co-founder of Zencargo, said there has been a “massive acceleration” on investment in supply chain over the past few months.
He added: “The fortunate thing is that, while in general digital transformation journeys are not always easy and need to be approached with care and involve different stakeholders across the business, the technology and the approach and the culture is now there so you can really make changes within a matter of days and weeks and certainly make very big changes in months.”
AO.com’s Kempston said: “We saw five years accelerate into five weeks at the beginning of the pandemic. We can cement that change as we continue to impress more new customers.”
Agility in the supply chain has also taken on a whole new meaning this year.
Running Bear’s Marshall said previously agility had been focused on being as efficient and as low-cost as possible and only having optimum amount of stock in the supply chain; however, this year it has been “turned on its head”.
“What was previously described as an agile supply chain is now being described as a fragile supply chain”
Catriona Marshall, Running Bear
“What was previously described as an agile supply chain is now being described as a fragile supply chain,” she said.
“We need to turn on its head some of the ways we think about what agility means. Things like having just enough stock just in time, we may need more stock from different supplies and holding stock.
“Back at the heart of it, one word I would use is simplicity. Retailers really need to focus on simplicity in this new world in order to maintain an element of agility going forward.”
Find out more about how investment in the supply chain can help your business by clicking here.
In watching our free virtual event, you will also discover:
- The major opportunities and challenges within the supply chain
- How technology is taking on a key role in achieving excellence
- How best to plan for the year ahead