Retail Supply Chain Trends

Insights from RILA LINK 2024

RILA LINK 2024 was a fantastic opportunity to take the pulse of the retail supply chain industry. Lots of the attendees we talked to were trying to figure out emerging trends, how they could best help their organizations adapt quickly to the future worker, how they could better serve their customers and basically: what is the “Next Demand.” 

We heard retailers say loud and clear that in a tough labor market, they’re looking for innovative ways (that don’t require a ton of CapEx) to leverage data to hedge against labor availability and increase resiliency. It’s a perfect time to think about products that can plug into your current ecosystem and get them to the next level – like CognitOps. CognitOps Align SaaS solution unlocks WMS data to enable worker productivity insights, predictive labor planning, warehouse troubleshooting, faster throughput and more – increasing warehouse productivity and reducing churn.   

The big trends we saw tied into the idea of doing more with less: how to deepen partnerships, how to prepare for disruption, how to improve customer service, how to engage workers, and how to do it all in a time of tough market conditions. 

“With limited resources, how can we implement new ideas that actually cut costs for our customers?”

Customer Centricity is King

retail supply chainWe saw a desire to pivot from transactional relationships with vendors and suppliers to strategic relationships. This aligns with a theme around customer-centricity. They wanted to know exactly what problem technology could solve or a specific benefit for their customers. Across the board, retailers were looking for solutions that could contribute to reducing cost of sales. The cost of the solution itself factors into this calculation: “with limited resources, how can we implement new ideas that actually cut costs for our customers?”

Data is a Deal Maker for Retail Supply Chains

retail supply chainData was a hot topic. AJ Sutera, Chief Technology and Logistics Officer, Duluth Trading Co. talked about “data-driven storytelling” in his session Supply Chain Visibility: Building Blocks of the Future. This referred to taking operational information up to C-level execs by using data as a foundation. Larry Grischow, EVP of Supply Chain and Procurement, Abercrombie and Fitch, talked about “turning data into signals into actions into value creation” in his session on Successfully Integrating Your Workforce into an Automated Environment.

Data is the foundation of a consistent and reliable supply chain operation, and many retailers don’t yet have the ability to utilize their data fully to increase visibility and reduce disruption.

Competition for the Digital Native Future Worker

retail supply chainWhile labor availability is going up, it’s still a tight market with a lot of competition. ROI is critical so that puts the focus on “team engagement” – providing a better, more fulfilling environment for workers. Retailers are seizing any opportunity to reduce labor attrition, improve retention, increase productivity with existing staff and attract new staff. Finding creative ways to make people more engaged and productive is a key priority.

Innovative technology can help with both. Young people coming into the workforce today are “digital natives.” They’ve grown up using the latest technology to communicate, learn, engage, and create. The most competitive retailers want to find a way to make workers feel supported with seamless technology investments that make their jobs as easy as creating a TikTok while increasing efficiency.

Future Fitting the Fragmented Retail Supply Chain

Every part of a retail organization is part of the retail supply chain – from the raw materials to manufacturing all the way to retail stores. Any issue with store inventory can create a bad retail experience for both customers AND workers. Inventory issues lead to upset consumers that cause tension and frustration for frontline store staff. With global disruptions from war to weather impacting trade and deliveries, it’s critical that retailers continue to future fit their cross-company, cross-country supply chains for resiliency.

CognitOps | The Team - Alex Ramirez

Alex Ramirez

CEO and Co-Founder

Aditi Vish

Account Exec

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If you’re looking for a way to increase visibility and improve resiliency in your retail supply chain – without breaking the budget – contact us.