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Retailers Improving Data Analytics and Getting Creative with Omni-Channel Fulfillment in 2016

By Jennifer Randall  January 6, 2016

A new year is upon us and lots of publications are issuing trends to watch for in 2016. With the constant and rapid pace of supply chain innovation, it’s hard to imagine what could happen in the span of just a year. Retailers are just coming down from peak season and reevaluating what worked well and what didn’t in order to better align strategies for success in the coming year.  After seeing several projections of what’s on the horizon for retailers, we’ve identified a couple additional items that we think will make an impact on the industry this year.

Leveraging Big Data Analytics to Make Better Supply Chain Decisions

The big data conversation has been ongoing for several years, but it’s taken some time for businesses to figure out how to manage their own data and identify what pieces are most useful to leverage and how to apply it to particular business challenges. Retailers are inundated with data about their customers, their suppliers, inventory, transportation and more; determining what’s relevant and how to automate and document data analytics is a key to making better supply chain decisions.

We are now seeing our retail customers relying upon and leveraging big data analytics more frequently to more accurately create a holistic demand forecast. By blending data from multiple sources they are able to quickly identify trends in demand and more accurately segment the supply chain for a more precise inventory deployment. Access to, and organization of, real-time data analytics as well as the ability to simplify the analysis of huge volumes of data from disparate sources are becoming key competitive advantages for retailers. Access to data is helping retailers to most effectively evaluate the cost and service trade-offs involved when electing an omni-channel strategy. And real-time analysis is enabling them to more quickly and nimbly respond to changes to drive success.

Leveraging Brick and Mortar in New Ways  

Sure, the face of retail has changed with the ecommerce boom, but stores are just as important as ever and are being viewed in new and innovative ways, especially with the surge in omni-channel fulfillment. Consumers don’t think about their shopping experience in terms of channels and retailers are tirelessly working to offer a seamless experience. That includes thinking about utilizing components of their business in multiple and innovative ways.

One such way is to determine the best means to use their brick and mortar stores as fulfillment centers to meet service demands. This can be a tough challenge in itself. And yet, others are taking that idea to the next level (including one major outdoor and sporting goods retailer) and proactively planning new retail store placements with the mission to include acting as a distribution center to fulfill online orders. This new approach offers an alternative to the traditional determination of location based on demographics, proximity to their competitors and other factors.

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To learn more about how leading retailers are leveraging modeling technology to gain the competitive edge in 2016, check out our new bulletin: Four Ways to Use Supply Chain Modeling to Support an Omni-Channel Strategy.