6 Game-Changing Strategies for Creating an Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Smart Retail Supply Chain 
April 25, 2023
Marius Coscodari


In the ever-evolving world of retail supply chain management, agility and resilience are two key lessons that can be learned from disruptive events. At mindit.io, our +250 software engineers and business analysts have mastered the art of identifying a client’s needs and developing all the necessary assets for them to be prepared, regardless of the economic landscape.  

The ability to adapt and recover from shocks, whether big or small, such as natural disasters, unpredictable demand, and unforeseen pandemics, is crucial for a sustainable and successful supply chain.  

The ultimate goal is to build a smart supply chain that provides real-time insights into its status, enabling accurate demand forecasting and efficient product delivery. Without supply chain insights, critical information about omni-channel experiences, return processes, stock availability, and more is lost.  

To protect against future disruptions, companies must prioritize flexibility and adopt a holistic approach to supply chain management. This includes developing a responsive and resilient risk management operations capability, powered by technology-driven solutions such as applied analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, all while leveraging trusted data.

In order to achieve a resilient supply chain, it is essential to equip retailers with a contemporary, event-driven infrastructure. This infrastructure enables accurate forecasting of the supply chain and facilitates quick and agile decision-making in real-time.

A holistic supply chain approach should:

Source: TIBCO.com

1. Avoid out-of-stock issues and lost profits

Achieving an all-encompassing perspective in supply chain management entails overseeing the entire retail process, from raw material procurement to customer product delivery. By establishing an omni-channel supply chain that integrates a connected ecosystem, automated processes, and predictive decision-making, retailers can ensure a seamless online shopping experience for their customers.

End-to-end visibility requires insights into:

Souce: TIBCO.com

2. Identify Final-customer Demand and Increase Customer Retention

In today's dynamic market, accurately estimating customer demand for products has become increasingly challenging yet crucial.

Businesses must question the reliability of demand signals received from immediate customers in the short and medium term, considering underlying uncertainties in forecasts. For instance, managing customer returns is a critical aspect for retailers, as online returns now account for at least 30 percent of all orders, compared to 9 percent in stores. Customers prioritize an easy return process (92 percent) and free shipping (79 percent) when making purchases.

With real-time visibility into operations, retailers can effectively manage inventory and returns.

Leveraging analytics, direct-to-consumer communication channels, market insights, and internal and external data can provide invaluable information for assessing current demand with customers and partners, helping demand teams overcome this challenge and make informed decisions.

Optimizing logistics capacity in the retail industry can be achieved through proactive collaboration with wholesalers and suppliers. A transparent and connected supply chain that can detect deviations, calculate dependencies, and visualize disruptions in real time is crucial, especially when considering factors such as shipping, taxes, duties, warehousing, and customs. Time is of the essence.

3. Optimize Logistics Capacity

Early exchange of information with partners via APIs during the planning stages can increase capacity before disruptive events occur, such as the recent shortages of semiconductors, cars, and even toilet paper witnessed during the pandemic.

Real-time visibility, beyond tracking freight status, also involves monitoring broader changes such as airport or border congestion to further improve logistics capacity. Maintaining an agile approach to logistics management is imperative for swift adaptation to situational or environmental changes.

4. Protect Against Disruptions

In order to thrive in today's retail landscape, automation, optimization, and digitization of the entire supply chain are imperative. With a significant shift towards online shopping in various categories, as reported by McKinsey, retailers must prioritize offering digital opportunities and platforms to meet customer demands.

Supply chain resilience and optimization have become even more critical in navigating volatility and uncertainty. Understanding current and future logistics capacity during disruptive events is essential for ensuring timely product delivery.

As omnichannel shopping becomes the new norm, consumer and retail companies must be prepared to deliver fast and impeccable omnichannel service, which requires a new approach to supply chain network.

Retailers who can leverage accurate data about their supply chain and inventory levels, correlated with supplier information, gain a competitive advantage in planning and optimization. This ultimately leads to cost reduction, waste reduction, and increased profitability.

5. Optimize the Customer Journey

In order to minimize the impact on customers, retailers need to have comprehensive insights into the entire customer journey across their enterprise. With increasing customer expectations for digital offerings and faster shipping, transparency, understanding customer desires, and enhancing customer experiences are more crucial than ever to foster lasting loyalty.

According to a recent McKinsey customer survey, over 50 percent of customers expect their apparel orders to arrive within two or three days of purchase. As shopping behaviors evolved during the pandemic, so did the expectations for receiving goods and services, particularly in the last mile of delivery.

By leveraging 360-degree customer views, retailers can track all customer interactions and analyze the data to create personalized experiences.

This includes tracking data about the customer's contact details, purchasing history, interactions with online customer services, product browsing, and social media engagement patterns. Having a comprehensive data profile provides valuable insights into customer preferences and helps retailers better understand what their customers want.

6. Ensure Long-lasting Sustainability

Sustainability is becoming increasingly critical for retail supply chains. As companies face mounting pressure to take corporate social responsibility for the environment and their workers, customers are demanding more transparency regarding hiring practices and overall impact. With considerations such as fair trade and carbon footprint, it is incumbent upon retailers to fully understand their impacts and take responsive action.  

Fair trade practices are essential for long-term business success. Keeping track of workers, their locations, and working conditions can provide valuable information when faced with inquiries about hiring practices and treatment of workers.

Additionally, customers are increasingly expecting companies to take steps to lower their carbon footprint and reduce fossil fuel consumption. It is imperative for retailers to proactively address these concerns and take measures to improve sustainability across their supply chains.

Without accurate data to identify the sources of energy consumption, it becomes difficult to implement effective measures for reduction or offer viable solutions. Incorporating sustainable practices into the supply chain is crucial, and Gartner highlights three key examples in supply chain management:

a. Offering more sustainable delivery speeds

b. Providing recyclable packaging

c. Incorporating "re-commerce" in sustainable retailing

To successfully integrate sustainable practices into your business, data-driven insights are necessary, and that’s where mindit.io can step in to help out with our extensive retail expertise.  

In terms of data-driven insights and sustainable practices, these include monitoring carbon footprint, transportation emissions, factory conditions, and other relevant data points. Having access to such insights enables informed decision-making and effective implementation of sustainable strategies.

If you’re interested in learning more about our expertise and how mindit.io can help your business, drop us a line and let’s connect on LinkedIn!

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