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Omnichannel shopping creates challenges for retailers, alongside its opportunities. And how retailers respond to them can be the difference between winning or losing against the competition.
According to a Retail Systems Research (RSR) survey sponsored by SAS, GT Nexus, Island Pacific and Logility, there are some notable differences about how retailers that outperform their competitors feel about their supply chains.
The “winners” in the survey, conducted in September among US retailers, were more likely to say that how they fulfilled had changed because of cross-channel shopping, and that consumer demand had become more unpredictable. They were also less likely to report feeling competitive pressures, whether to create shorter order-to-delivery cycles in general or same-day fulfillment in particular.
Perhaps surprisingly, they were also significantly less likely to say that store growth had been outstripped by digital. However, digital still makes up only a small share of total US retail sales, meaning leading retailers were likely growing in both channels.
Winners also faced different challenges with operations than the rest of the field. Nearly half (48%) said the volume of returns was increasing because of omnichannel purchases, vs. 35% of all other retailers. They were also nearly twice as likely to say their supply chain was not designed for their current or projected volume of direct-to-consumer shipments, at 32% vs. 17%.
The internet of things (IoT) is being quickly adopted as a potential solution to many of these issues. According to Tata Consultancy Services, just over a quarter of IoT spending by retailers worldwide went to supply chain monitoring in April 2015.
Other research has shown that retail decision-makers worldwide are better-educated on the IoT than those in any other vertical. Many retailers expect the IoT will be a significant help with inventory challenges.
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