The Battle of the Supply Chains

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Competition between retailers is no longer between brick and mortar stores, rather lives in the efficiencies of their supply chains.In the world of Google, where there are more than 3,000+ books published and more text messages exchanged every day than the population on the planet, the days have gone when it was good enough as a retailer to be just good.

Not good enough anymore. No room to be second best.

The world has changed. Knowledge is no longer a sacred cow as information is in the hands of all, freely available. How does one cut through all this clutter and give it some sort of meaning is a key challenge?

The world has truly become a global village and consumers more savvy than ever before. It is a buyer’s market. The smart customer has the choice to walk into a department store, try on the merchandise they like, and then go online to order the same for a much lower price sitting in the comfort of their home or simply sipping a coffee in a café’.

In such an environment, it is no longer a battle between a retailer and another retailer as there is no one competitor to deal with. The battle is between supply chains. Supply Chain is the business.

Unfortunately, it is a case of mistaken identity that sadly a lot of retailers think Supply Chain is Logistics and is only to do with warehousing or transportation.

I used to think this way as well till I got into this a few years ago. It was seen as the blame child for most, the unsexy part of the business. But let me assure you when you add millions of dollars to the profit line by streamlining this, it will most certainly change your perspective.

Supply Chains are the end to end operation or in short “Cash to Cash” and not just logistics…..

Therefore the best way to beat your competitor is not compete with your competitor at all, instead go for something unique which you stand for whether be in a product offering, operational excellence or customer intimacy and positions you as the authority, the retailer of choice. Supply Chain enables you to be the game changer.

In my view every retail CEO should know the answers to the following 3 questions whether they like it or not for them to not only survive but to thrive in the 21 century retailing game.

  • Is your supply chain efficient? Is it a customer service led or cost savings led strategy?
  • What are your supply chain costs?
  • How can you improve and leverage your supply chain?

I used to think that a retailer has to spend millions of dollars wanting to build a world class supply chain. The answer is a simple NO….

One doesn’t need to build a museum to get a world class operation in retail…

If you can focus on the above questions on a regular basis, it is only a matter of time that you can transform your supply chain to be humming and in turn enable your retail organisation to be truly world class.

Source: Prakash Menon via LinkedIn

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Prakash Menon is the Executive Director of Thought Leaders Middle East and a Global Partner with Thought Leaders Global, Australia. He is a career transitioning specialist having had two very successful corporate careers in both retail and hospitality in two different countries in a very short time frame. He is also a Retail Supply Chain Expert having been the former Director Of Supply Chain MYER, Australia’s largest department store chain. He is a professional speaker, executive mentor and also the author of 3 books “Driven”, “Fail Smart” “Supply Chain Is Sexy” and regularly writes for Gulf News in Dubai.