Croydon, London: Real transformation in the retail sector is imminent, according to industry thought leaders gathered at events held in London, Palo Alto and New York recently. ''Unprecedented levels of efficiency and responsiveness in supply chains will transform the sector driven by increased management and investor desire, and new technology deployments.''
At this series of global events entitled 'New Earnings Strategies for Retail Supply Chains,' Professor Warren Hausman of Stanford University led nearly 100 leading figures in the sector in discussions about future trends.
He said: ''I expect to see real transformation in retail take place quite rapidly over the next few years. Enabling technologies are accelerating the pace with which business and investor desires for flexible supply chains are being realised. Information capture and flow is revolutionising the supply chain by significantly reducing the design to delivery time for retailers keen to respond quickly to customer demand.''
Hausman continued: ''Retail leaders have always known that the key to market responsiveness is improving the supply chain, giving them greater flexibility in reacting to rapidly changing market needs. Such increased flexibility improves forecasting, hence minimising markdowns and stockouts to maximise earnings. But the retail leader has always had to balance the needs for low-cost supply chains, typified by offshore design and production, with the need for responsiveness. Today technology can provide the rich balance required to remain price competitive whilst delivering the flexibility needed to improve earnings significantly.''
The event was jointly organised by leading offshore outsourcing company Infosys (www.infosys.com), retail merchandise planning and optimisation company Marketmax www.marketmax.com and lead time optimisation pioneer SupplyChainge (www.supplychainge.com).
Sudhir Chaturvedi, a retail technology specialist at Infosys, said: ''Flexible offshoring has come of age, giving retailers for the first time the sort of reactivity associated with local suppliers, combined with the cost competitiveness of offshoring. Better integration of supply chain information technology is leading retail to transform into a faster, more reactive business able to respond to market demands quickly.''
Lori Schafer, president and CEO of Marketmax, went on: ''Effective range planning and continual forecasting enables corporate executives to fine tune the business to hit quarterly objectives. Real visibility of actual data down to every SKU, giving real, live feedback by region, store, department, and even specific in-store location enables corporate executives to be able to react quickly to take advantage of fast moving lines, and minimise the impact of slow moving lines.''
John Thorbeck, president and CEO of SupplyChainge, concluded: ''Retail leaders have been offered a smorgasbord of solutions with vague impact over the years. But let's be clear - efficient, flexible supply chains bring increased revenues, and increased revenues means increased earnings. With lead time optimisation orchestrating new technologies, leaders have a tangible opportunity to improve revenues and earnings. Leaders who seize new solutions win, and the race is on.''