by Richard Wilhjelm, Compliance Networks
As fall approaches, the back to school season is upon us. In my case, my middle daughter is leaving home for the first time to begin her college experience. Unlike my distant college experience, she and her roommates put together a tidy spreadsheet detailing who would be responsible for supplying what in their new apartment. Days before their move-in date, one glaring weakness emerged in their planning – who would bring the router? "Oh, my dad will get it," responded my daughter, "he is in the computer business…," as though I enjoyed configuring home routers like the next guy. While the spreadsheet was well-intended, teenage procrastination somehow had seeped into their well-defined project plan. The timing of the omission meant Amazon was no longer an option and a traditional brick-and-mortar retailer five hours away in Gainesville, Florida would be my only solution: BOPIS (Buy Online, Pickup in Store) to the rescue.
In 2015, I wrote an article for Supply Chain Digest1 suggesting that traditional brick-and-mortar retailers had a strategic edge over the e-commerce retailers when the consumer absolutely needed the product "now." Apparently, that trend continues to grow: a recent article on FierceRetail2 reports BOPIS is up 44% YTD. While 2-day delivery has become table stakes for the e-com world, this report suggests there exists a growing demographic of consumers for whom only "now" will suffice. I believe this represents both opportunities and challenges for the traditional retailer. Opportunities exist because that segment of the population demands instant gratification, which allows traditional retailers to firmly stake out a corner of the ring that e-com vendors can't offer – yet. Challenges exist because traditional retailers' supply chains must be agile enough to adapt to this rapidly shifting marketplace. From my perspective, based on my work with senior retail supply chain executives, supply chains of the future will require the following four characteristics going forward:
Visibility – the ability to see into the supply chain, understand performance, anticipate problems and react.
Speed – to improve traditional delivery times, shrink the purchase order lifecycle and optimize capital by reducing overall inventory investment.
Execution – to operate with a minimum amount of supply disruptions creating trust amongst all stakeholders.
Inventory Integrity – to be able to publish with confidence, inventory levels that will maximize sales, delight customers and protect the brand.
Why are these characteristics so important to traditional retailers moving forward? Because e-com retailers are not their only competition. Traditional retailers must also compete with exchanges (Wal-Mart, Amazon, Rakuten, and New Egg) and with brands that offer direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales venues (Nike, New Balance, and M&M's) .
In future articles, I will examine each of these following areas and provide specific examples where these characteristics are "table stakes" for traditional retailers moving forward. As I have mentioned in previous articles, supply chains continue to increase the competitive value they bring to retailers.
Will BOPIS be the saving grace for traditional retailers moving for forward? Will it continue to grow as the FierceRetail2 report suggests? Will it be a key differentiator in an industry that continues to shift and fragment on what seems like a daily basis? It is far above my pay grade to either predict. But, in my case, I'm grateful that it's the perfect antidote for teenage procrastination.
Richard Wilhjelm currently serves as VP, Sales & Business Development for Compliance Networks, a supply chain performance improvement solution provider. Richard has over 25 years of sales and marketing experience in the supply chain software industry. His skills in sales management and field operations have yielded tangible results within recognized companies such as Logility, Inc., JD Edwards World Solutions Company and Prophet 21, Inc. Richard received his Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from the University of Florida and currently resides in Weston, FL with his wife and three daughters. For more information, please visit www.compliancenetworks.com.
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