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AI and Automation Unlock Supply Chain Progress


To keep up with the pace of constantly evolving retail industry, the retail supply chain must be reimagined.  

New shopper demands require new technologies. Automation, machine learning (ML), and artificial intelligence (AI) offer new solutions to meet these demands but deciding where to start can be tricky.

Retailers can now leverage cloud platforms as a unified foundation to manage critical supply chain activities. They can tap machine learning to analyze data and discover patterns. They can harness the power of AI to transform data into actionable insights. Real-time inventory visibility can create opportunities for personalization on a new level.

To uncover how retailers can best unlock supply chain progress with AI, ML, automation and more, David Fleischer, senior director, strategy and solution management for retail supply chain at Oracle, sat down with RIS for an exclusive Q&A on the topic.

RIS: How can retailers best leverage Cloud platforms as a unified foundation to manage and control critical supply chain activities?

David Fleischer: With a scalable and extensible cloud platform, retailers can run their business today most efficiently and effectively while being prepared for anything tomorrow might throw at them. With a single-entry point for data on the back end and users on the front, the Oracle cloud platform offers retailers the ability to scale up data volumes and capabilities.

RIS: In an increasingly omnichannel environment, how can artificial intelligence and machine learning be a game-changer when it comes to allocation?

Fleischer: A typical retail planner manages a wide range of products across hundreds of locations. Fortunately, AI and ML can help resolve these mounting challenges. With an intelligent demand forecasting solution, such as Oracle Retail Demand Forecasting Cloud Service in place, a single retail planner can now manage multiple categories – fast-moving small or seasonal items like glasses can now be managed alongside slow-moving, high-ticket items like couches. With all of this in one place, the planner gains a single view of all inventory that can be revised and optimized with the full assortment in mind.

RIS: How can AI and automation streamline multiple channel fulfillment into a single process?

Fleischer: To break through the noise of unpredictable supply and the challenges of new demand patterns, retailers are turning to machine learning and artificial intelligence to improve forecast accuracy, with as few touches as possible. Demand forecasting, traditionally managed by multiple teams, may not only be inefficient but now is increasingly harder to maintain when talent is hard to come by and myriad factors — from the way consumers shop to what they are buying — have diverged from historical patterns.

Machine learning helps retailers predict changes in sales based on previous trends and customer preferences. While machine learning is constantly analyzing data to find these patterns, AI takes this data and optimizes it into actionable insights with a larger impact.

RIS: Leading retailers have recognized that online pickup is key to a robust retail experience. What technology solutions should retailers invest in to support the best curbside/BOPIS experience?

Fleischer: Oracle covers many things in the store pickup experience with our store/omnichannel offerings, but for this, let us focus on what must be done in the supply chain realm to ensure happy customers. In the supply chain, we are focused on creating and then executing the best possible demand forecast, including not only what and when the customer will purchase an item but, just as importantly, where they would like their purchase fulfilled and at what speed. It’s the balance and dynamic ability to plan and then shift plans as life happens for the customers.

RIS: As personalization becomes a table stakes strategy to foster loyal customers, how can retailers tie inventory visibility into personalized offers when faced with supply chain challenges?

Fleischer: This is a great question and one that we are addressing with our retailers daily as supply chain constraints from COVID-19 and economic situations impact not only the availability of products at locations but also the cost of getting them there. The key here is having a single platform will real-time (or near real-time) inventory availability. That is the first step in creating personalized offers and without that, offers sent without informed inventory will only disappoint customers.

About David Fleischer
David Fleischer is responsible for the strategic decisions and product development of Oracle Retail’s supply chain management solutions. Prior to joining Oracle, Fleischer spent more than 20 years in retail planning and allocation roles for companies including Carters, Gap, Gymboree, and Payless Shoes. During those years, he led multi-tiered, highly skilled teams in the development and delivery of supply chain management tools across the organizations. He is also recognized as a leader in planning and allocation, presenting at numerous industry events. In addition to his direct retail experience, as a consultant, Fleischer has participated in and led strategic supply chain transformations on projects with major pet care, grocery, paint manufacturers, and other major retailers.

Predict the Unpredictable Supply Chain with Artificial Intelligence

Join this webinar to learn how technology helps retailers drive accurate demand forecasts, optimize daily replenishment decisions, and align the actual service level to the targets with the minimum inventory.

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