The following excerpt, from the article With retail at a crossroads, supply chain value is key, was written by Jennifer Overstreet and published on The NRF's Retail's Big Blog. The article reviews advice presented by Jim Tompkins, CEO of Tompkins International,at the NRF’s Global Supply Chain Summit, To learn more about his perspective, view the full article.
There’s no question that the current retail environment is intensely competitive and complex. Winning on price is tough, and many argue that price wars are simply a race to the bottom. Competing on selection can be difficult as well. So how will retailers distinguish themselves? Customer experience and convenience, Tompkins says. And the supply chain plays a huge role in both.
Have the wrong retail strategy or the wrong supply chain strategy, and retailers could end up going down the wrong path. But turmoil within the supply chain field will make for tough navigation. Over the last four years, retailers haven’t been addressing key challenges due to economic uncertainties, but Tompkins expects a flurry of changes and advancements in the next 18 months.
So what are the tipping points to the turmoil?
- Amazon. They can’t be ignored, so you need to understand why they’re winning.
- Online success. Your website is your front door, regardless of whether you make any money there.
- Technology. To do a buy/fulfill/return-anywhere model, you need the right tools.
- Social commerce. People don’t need to be together to shop together.
- Youth culture. Digital natives see shopping quite differently.
- Bad in-store experience. Service in the store needs to wow customers.
- Store relevance. Why should someone come to your store?
Tompkins points to the need to understand all of these in order to successfully navigate your organization. But he says the big one is undoubtedly Amazon, explaining that Amazon is winning for lots of reasons. They still run intensely like a startup, they’re persistent, they experiment and learn from their mistakes, they measure everything, and they focus on customers, not competitors. According to Tompkins, it’s very important to study Amazon.
Tompkins posed this question: What are you doing to align your supply chain with your business strategy to create supply chain value? It’s the answer that will guide you through the crossroads and on to success.