Supply Chain remains the most underrated support function in retail but then its importance cannot be undermined. A weak supply chain results in chaos which ultimately leads to the downfall for any brand/ retail chain. Internationally, supply chain and warehousing is witnessing a tremendous revolution.
With the growing prevalence of Omnichannel retail, the retailer today faces a challenging task of customer expectation fulfillment 24×7. Not only is the customer looking at an enhanced customer service but a seamless experience across channels. Coupled with this, the retailer needs to ensure that his operational costs are under check and the business is strong enough to take care of any unforeseen volatility. A strong supply chain forms the key to taking care of most of the business nuances and the world is today moving over to robotics and automation to take care of this,though trained manpower still remains imperative to successful supply chain operation.
Reiterating this, Samay Kohli, Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Grey Orange (a robotics and warehouse automation company) shares, “The retail evolution calls for a new generation of solutions to address its complexities, which will help retailers create an end-to-end Omnichannel supply chain grounded in the streamlined processes of their fulfillment centers. Automation has a big role to play in this, as it can help minimise inventory duplication and enable a realtime, unified view of inventory across channels.”
Kohli further adds that in a modern warehouse, assets and resources need to collaborate with minimal human intervention and with utmost integration across various workflows.
This maximises the throughput, as the movement of all resources optimise precisely with the use of AI and machine learning algorithms. A fully-connected robotics system can process large amounts of data in real time to adapt on the fly. Such synchronisation can unlock new areas of productivity, some of which were not considered before.
Elaborating on this, he further adds, “In today’s highly dynamic retail landscape, Flexible Automation in distribution centers will be the game changer that can provide the operational excellence that retailers seek.”
Citing the key global trends, for 2019 to look out for, Anshuman Agarwal, Chief Operating Officer & Co-Founder, INCREFF points out that managing warehousing is becoming a specialised function requiring specialised and trained team.
“With e-commerce and social commerce becoming significant portion of business, warehouses now must pick, pack and dispatch individual customer orders and that too within few hours. This requires a very different capability and mindset.” He further states the importance of ensuring on same day replenishment for offline stores saying: “To improve store sell through, warehouses now must replenish stock faster in shorter batch sizes. The trend is also to imbibe digital automation instead of physical automation which entails automating decision making in warehouses through digital automation. Turn humans into robots – let systems take all decisions, workers should only follow instructions.”
Talking about inventory, Agarwal accentuates the trend internationally that is about exposing a single view of inventory. He explains, “With proliferation of sales channels (e.g. E-commerce marketplaces, own websites, LFRs, EBOs, MBOs etc.) having dedicated stocks for each channel results in huge loss of revenue and margin. It is critical to expose single view of inventory to all sales without having safety buffers or dedicated stock for any sales channels. It is equally important to be closer to the customer. This means having a distributed warehousing with intelligent stock allocation based on demand pattern, so that the retailer can fulfill all customer orders from closest warehouse there by reducing delivery time and cost and improving customer experience.”
Top Trends Expected to Transform the Global Supply Chain/ Logistics Industry in 2019
BLOCKCHAIN TECHNOLOGY: With the superpower of allowing the different stakeholders – manufacturers, suppliers, customers, auditors, warehouse managers and a host of others – to create an efficient system for recording transactions, tracking assets and easy accessibility of document management, Blockchain Technology is to be watched out for!
COMPLETE DIGITALISATION: Enabling a reduction in supply chain cost and offering a fool proof solution devoid of any possible human error, digitalisation is going to sweep over the traditional methods.
Growing prevalence of 3PL and 5PL
PROFICIENT LAST MILE DELIVERIES: Thanks to e-commerce, there is a growing proliferation of last mile deliveries occupying a critical position. An example here would be the initiative by Amazon to workout logistics to offer same day delivery to their Prime Members.
DRONES MAKING DELIVERIES: Experimentation is ongoing in this space and the pace is only going to increase in 2019
BIG DATA ADOPTION: The use of Big Data and Data Analytics will be a force to reckon with in 2019 for supply chain operation
ELASTIC LOGISTIC: As the name suggests, this is all about bringing in flexibility that allows to expand and shrink capabilities for aligning with the demand dynamics within the supply chain during a time frame.
OPTING FOR GREEN SOLUTIONS: With online shopping increasing by the day, the number of vehicles being used for deliveries too are growing. Logistic companies will have to look out for green solitons that include making use of electric vehicles, drones etc.