According to Zebra Technologies, millennials (the cohort born between 1980 and 1995) have eclipsed the Baby Boomer generation in buying power. As such, supply chain planning has changed with the times to accommodate this new, tech-native generation. Unlike previous generations, millennials are almost exclusively looking for digitally savvy retailers, making it essential for emerging and established retailers to continue to grow and evolve with the increasingly digital times. Let’s take a look at some of the trends in supply chain planning for retailers in 2018 and beyond.
Trends in Supply Chain Management for Retail
Forbes has put together a definitive list of supply chain management trends, specifically as it concerns the retail industry:
- Retail stores must keep track of many different channels for revenue and service. This is known as omnichannel management. Today’s retail store can no longer afford to simply be a brick-and-mortar store as they are competing with online retail giants like Amazon and eBay. To that end, many retailers have taken to the internet to offer a digital experience. For example, many retailers offer web-only exclusives, sales, and coupons to improve market share, sales, and customer loyalty. As the move to a nearly all-digital marketplace is underway, companies will be beholden to omnichannel management going forward.
- Retail stores are adapting to different technologies. While there has been some concern, for example, that increasingly advanced technologies will displace some workers, that is simply not the case. Rather, increasingly advanced technologies have created a breed of worker that labors smarter, rather than harder. Automation has removed the need for workers to perform menial tasks, which has led to greater efficiency and less need for workers to perform tasks that jeopardize their productivity. One technology to keep in mind for future is the rise of self-driving (automated) cars. Though they are currently in the beta stage, these self-driving cars will eliminate the need for delivery drivers. What’s more, drone technology has allowed retail stores to deliver goods all over the world without incurring excessive shipping costs (and it keeps their carbon footprint down).
- Global supply chains and tariffs are becoming a concern, especially with the current administration. In response, retail stores are trending towards designing their global supply chains to stay one step ahead of the tariff trends.
- Digital technologies will continue to emerge, and retail stores must continue to adopt them in order to remain on point with the various trends and to continue to appease their growing and changing customer base. Blockchain, 3D printing, autonomous mobile robots, IoT, machine learning, and more emerging technologies will continue to lead the future of supply chain management for retailers in the future.