As the retail marketplace continues to evolve savvy retailers are investing in next-gen order management solutions to ensure they can deftly route and fulfill orders at need-it-now speeds.
As the results of RIS’ “31st Annual Retail Technology Study” indicate distributed order management is a hot investment area and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future.
To explore this vital investment area as well as the general state of the retail supply chain today, RIS sat down with Bamboo Rose’s CEO Sue Welch for this exclusive interview.
RIS: Where will we see the most impactful supply chain technology investment over the next 12 months?
Welch: Much of the retail industry was caught flat footed by pandemic-driven supply chain disruption and shifting customer preferences in 2020. We’re seeing the market show an increased interest in global trade and supply chain digitization and visibility to support fast, confident decision making in hours and minutes — not days or weeks. Supply chain strategy has pivoted from a cost optimization conversation to a strategic differentiator that can have a major impact on customer experience and profit margins. While 2020 was a truly unique year for the retail industry, we feel there will be continued environmental and geopolitical events in the coming years that will make this type of resilient technology infrastructure business critical.
RIS: What major shifts in sourcing have been ignited thanks to the ongoing health crisis?
Welch: Over the last 12 months, our most successful clients worked closely and transparently with their supplier base to secure inventory and weather the pandemic together last spring. As stores began to reopen and consumer confidence returned in the summer, these retailers were able to secure additional product from their strategic suppliers despite massive demand surges that left other retailers and brands in the lurch. They were also able to leverage the supply chain visibility they had on Bamboo Rose to start turning some of their physical stores into micro-distribution centers to support speed and efficiency in their e-commerce businesses. Finally, they were able to quickly collaborate with suppliers on new home décor and leisurewear private brands to meet the fast-changing expectations of their target consumer markets.
RIS: Is there an increased wiliness to share data between business partners? How is this data being leveraged across the enterprise?
Welch: Executive teams and boards are realizing that to be successful in this era of business, there must be tight integration of internal enterprise applications and close, digital collaboration with industry business partners at all phases of the value chain. It is only through this community-driven, end-to-end view of operations that retailers can achieve the agility they need to keep pace with fast changing consumer trends and buying channel expectations. Bamboo Rose clients leveraging our Multi-Enterprise Platform to achieve this cohesive operational view have been able to reduce safety stock by millions, stand-up market-differentiating private brands quickly, and improve time to market by 20%.
RIS: Getting orders right the first time is a retail necessity. How have advances in order management technology helped ensure customer orders are met on-time and on-budget?
Welch: As retailers drive more of their revenue from new buying channels like e-commerce and buy online pick up in store (BOPIS), a transparent and efficient order management system is vital to maintain an exceptional customer experience and high margins. Retailers are achieving these goals by layering a digital purchase order management system on top of their legacy ERP. This approach allows them to collaborate and make changes to orders with suppliers prior to order commitment — leading to a reduction of 3-6 weeks in the order cycle, 75% reduction in PO cycle times, and a 50% reduction in order changes.