Notes from Momentum 2014: Time to Expand Your Supply Chain Thinking
Speakers at the recent Momentum 2014 conference held by Manhattan Associates in Hollywood, Florida, discussed a wide variety of supply chain topics. However, one theme that ran through many sessions was the expanded range of competition retailers face from a multitude of sources and channels. Properly meeting this competition requires a rethinking and broadening of supply chain strategy. Following are highlights from three industry experts who offered different pieces of advice for retailers looking to adapt their supply chains to the new competitive environment in which they do business.
Follow the Leader
Sucharita Mulpuru, VP/principal analyst Forrester Research, said that Amazon.com is going after almost everyone’s business and is establishing a significant presence in a dizzying range of verticals and industries. In response, she said, retailers need to copy the supply chain strategies Amazon uses that work.
Most importantly, Mulpuru advised retailers to adopt predictive shipping, which entails analyzing past purchase history of shoppers to determine who is likely to order a product at a certain time and move the inventory closer to them. This strategy works best when applied to regional clusters of shoppers with similar buying patterns and also works well with new product releases, such as the latest book or movie in a popular series.
Mulpuru also recommended that retailers consider co-binning, or opening the sale of select items to third-party partners who may be able to source or ship them more effectively and storing, picking and shipping them from their own distribution centers. In addition, she said retailers need to protect their turf by dynamically monitoring and responding to Amazon’s price and product offerings, as well as through fulfillment partnerships with other online retailers like EBay and aggressive omni-channel customer retention strategies.
Keep it Simple
Reed J. Stepleman, senior director of product services in fulfillment and e-commerce for Manhattan Associates, explained how technologies that simplify order processing can help ensure retailers stay competitive as they move into a 365-day operating model. These solutions include pick-to-light applications, which make the picking process easier by allowing warehouse associates to scan boxes and then pick items as directed by light displays.
In addition, Stepleman said retailers should examine automated unit sortation systems that allow employees to pick items in bulk and then feed them to a sorter that determines what orders go together on a chute. Other solutions include put-to-light “put walls” that light up to show workers where to put merchandise once it is picked and packed, based on a scan, and automated bagging systems that remove the manual labor associated with packaging goods for shipment to consumers.
Connect to Your Customers
Christina Bieniek, principal Deloitte Consulting L.L.P., noted that 80% of consumers engage with a smartphone before, during or after a purchase, and that for today’s “connected consumer,” online interaction is an everyday part of life. For Millennials, whose buying power will surpass that of Baby Boomers in 10 years, everyday connectivity is even more pronounced.
Thus retailers must utilize different supply chain business models that reflect this new connected reality, such as shipping products directly to consumers from brands. In addition, retailers need to start offering holistic assortments that look at all the needs of the individual customer and are then assembled outward.
And demand for the assortments must be fulfilled at any touchpoint the customer desires. Especially for Millennials, the overall customer experience needs to be highly personalized, as they are not brand loyal, meaning features like “social shopping” with friends are extremely important.
Sports Authority joins skin cancer awareness campaign
Sports Authority has partnered with the Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA), the largest private funder of melanoma research, to raise skin cancer awareness and funds to support studies aimed at its treatment and cure.
This is the fourth consecutive year Sports Authority has participated in and supported the effort.
With 474 locations across 43 states and Puerto Rico, Sports Authority is supporting an extensive outreach campaign this month to coincide with Melanoma Awareness Month.
Additionally, Sports Authority is conducting a point-of-sale program throughout May that encourages shoppers to round up their purchases to the nearest dollar to donate funds toward MRA-sponsored research for the disease. Due to the generous ongoing contributions of MRA’s founders, 100% of the money collected will go toward research into fighting melanoma.
“We are honored to partner with the Melanoma Research Alliance for another year, as they continue to be at the forefront of education and research to finding treatments and a cure for melanoma,” said Paul M. Okimoto, chief marketing officer. “We encourage our customers, as they engage in outdoor sports and activities throughout the summer months, to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves from the harmful rays of the sun.”
“We are so pleased to once again be collaborating with Sports Authority in generating support for our mission to defeat melanoma and educating the public about this disease,” said Wendy Selig, MRA’s president and CEO. “MRA is grateful for the ongoing commitment of our allies in continuing to advance progress for melanoma patients and everyone at risk for deadly skin cancer.”
Sports Authority is supporting the promotion with in-store signage, such as point-of-sale cash wrap mats and toppers. The company is also featuring the partnership across social media outlets, newspaper ads and on an informational landing page located at sportsauthority.com/shinesomelight.
Pinterest testing Promoted Pins with retail brands, including Gap and Target
New York — Internet scrapbooking site Pinterest Inc. is expanding its efforts to allow advertisers pay to more prominently display their pins, the San Francisco-based company announced in a blog post on Monday.
The company said it is working with a small group of brands to roll out a paid test in its search and category feeds. The group includes Target, Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, and Lululemon Athletica.
“These brands will help us test Promoted Pins to make sure they’re tasteful, transparent, relevant and improved based on Pinner feedback — so that Pinterest continues to be a great experience for everyone,” Joanne Bradford, head of partnerships, wrote on the company’s blog.
According to the blog, Pinterest is keeping the test small “so that we can collect as much feedback as possible, but we’re hoping to open it up to more businesses throughout the year.”
Pinterest now hosts approximately 750 million pinboards and 30 billion pins, according to reports.