Inventory / Merchandising / Supply Chain

Supply chain challenges are mounting for many retailers, especially those operating in multiple regions of the country and abroad. Consumers expect to be able to order and purchase products via any channel, then have them delivered to their channel of choice – and quickly! New technologies are providing the ways and means for merchants to deliver on the promise of omnichannel excellence. Now retailers must find the best ways to implement new solutions to stay competitive.

Selling Beyond Borders: 3 Exporting Challenges Businesses Should Know

When you think of exporters, you’re likely to picture large companies selling products such as cars, electronics and airplanes. However, sizable corporations aren’t the only key players in exporting — almost 300,000 small and medium-sized businesses export products or services to at least one country outside the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau1. Global expansion can be a strategic way for small and medium-sized businesses to grow and diversify their customer base, as 95% of the world’s customers and 80% of the world’s purchasing power are outside the U.S.2 Yet not surprisingly, the countless opportunities global expansion offers also can come with logistical challenges. As you consider an export strategy, it’s important to recognize a few common challenges I’ve observed to better manage global expansion in a way that can help strengthen financial growth.

Zebra Unveils SmartSense For Retail Asset Visibility Platform

Zebra Technologies has released the SmartSense for Retail asset visibility solution, which combines UHF RFID, video and micro-location capabilities to identify and track the journey and location of merchandise, associates and shoppers in a retail store in real time. SmartSense for Retail also includes a dashboard and centralized management console that provides operational data to support greater inventory accuracy, improved omnichannel operations and asset protection across the entire enterprise.

66% Of Retailers Say Current Systems Don’t Enhance Last-Mile CX

Despite efforts to improve the last mile of the customer experience (CX), retailers still are far from optimizing it: 66% of retail supply chain executives say that their existing systems do nothing to improve the customer delivery experience. Only 3% say they currently have systems that fully support efforts to improve the CX, according to a survey from eft and Convey. Joseph Bobko, VP of Transportation at Boxed, told EFT and Convey that there is occasionally a ‘gap’ between a shipper’s understanding of delivery and the customer’s expectations, and that analytical expertise is often required to bridge that gap:

70% Of Retailers Ready To Adopt IoT Platforms

Nearly 70% of retail decision-makers are ready to make changes needed to adopt the Internet of Things (IoT), and 65% plan to invest in automation technologies for inventory management and planogram compliance by 2021, according to the 2017 Retail Vision Study from Zebra Technologies. “Retailers’ number one business challenge to compete in this dynamic marketplace is inventory visibility,” said Tom Moore, Industry Lead of Retail and Hospitality at Zebra Technologies in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Best case, most retailers are 50% to 60% accurate from that perspective, so if they’re going to have any kind of e-Commerce strategy and leverage their in-store resources and inventory, they need to make sure that product is there.”

DICK’S Repositions Merchandising Strategy Amid Sporting Goods Struggles

Despite increasing comparable store sales 5.0% in Q4 and continuing its rapid e-Commerce growth, DICK’S Sporting Goods is slashing 20% of its 1,600 vendors to focus more on its private label brands. The company will launch two new private brands in Spring 2017, and expects the private label business to reach $1 billion in sales this year. To close Q4, the retailer reported: • Net…

Albertsons Streamlines Merchandising With Product Discovery Platform

Albertsons Companies, the parent company of 19 grocery and pharmacy retail banners including Albertsons, Safeway and ACME, has selected product discovery platform RangeMe to scale its retail buying efforts within the general merchandise, health and beauty categories. The retailers also will use the solution to manage its inbound product submission…

Supply Chain Integration Tightens Inventory, Boosts Accuracy For Nebraska Furniture Mart

Five years ago, executives at Nebraska Furniture Mart realized that the retailer's supply chain needed to be a major strategy driver within the organization. It was actually a logical conclusion: the omnichannel brand carries more than 650,000 SKUs, encompassing furniture, flooring, electronics and appliances, and nearly 25% of its product portfolio is brand new each year. Its vendors range from supply chain-savvy manufacturers like Sony, Samsung and GE to mom-and-pop companies building furniture in their barn and communicating via fax. By 2014, Nebraska Furniture Mart (NFM) had decided to move from its home-grown supply chain management system to an integrated system from Logility Voyager Solutions. Since then, the retailer has been involved in a continuous improvement process with the solution, leveraging its capabilities for benefits that are being realized throughout the company.

WHSmith Travel Upgrades Demand Forecasting For Perishable Items

  • Published in News Briefs
WHSmith Travel, a UK retailer operating 181 international units, has partnered with RELEX Solutions to help it improve demand forecasting and replenishment. The retailer's goal is to increase availability, reduce waste and improve customer satisfaction for its short shelf-life products, including sandwiches, prepared salads, chilled food-to-go and convenience range.

Barnes & Noble Education Buys Virtual Bookstore Operator For $174 Million

Barnes & Noble Education (BNED), one of the nation's largest contract operators of higher education bookstores, has acquired MBS Textbook Exchange for $174.2 million in cash. The combined company will operate more than 1,490 physical and virtual bookstores serving more than six million students. MBS, itself a contract operator of virtual bookstores, also is one of the largest used textbook wholesalers in the U.S. Through its MBS Direct business, the company services more than 700 virtual bookstores with a comprehensive e-Commerce experience. MBS also sources and sells new and used textbooks to more than 3,700 physical college bookstores, including BNED's 770 campus locations, and provides inventory management, hardware and POS software to approximately 485 college bookstores.

4 Ways You Can Ship Smarter

E-Commerce merchants are all trying to compete for consumers’ attention with a variety of promotions such as free shipping, in-store pickups or same day deliveries. But how well are these tactics working? Which should you consider offering? Which are just wasted efforts? At Shippo we recently surveyed both consumers and merchants to figure out exactly that. Here are some of our most important findings.

Putting Customers At The Center Of The Manufacturer-Retailer Relationship

Retailers and manufacturers are inextricably dependent on each other for success. Ultimately, they share the common challenge of adapting to changing shopper habits and expectations, which is putting stress on traditional routes to growth, like sales and promotional tactics. It’s also forcing organizations on both sides to completely rethink how they serve shoppers and engage their partners.

Tapping Community To Connect Digital Strategies

Kelly Stickel launched Remodista to focus on retail disruption. By using Community as a business model, Remodista is working to “build, foster and create a trusted environment where we attract like-minded individuals thinking through disruption and innovation. Through collaborative research and analysis, we think through the business challenges looking at the future of retail.” Stickel and a panel of retail leaders will share their insights on Community and Commerce during the Retail Innovation Conference, May 9-10 in New York City. This Q&A provides a preview of this compelling session:

Creating A Returns Process That Works For Everyone

While e-Commerce sales skyrocket, online returns are growing at an even faster rate. When it comes to online shopping, consumers are three times more likely to return an item they purchased online versus in-store. In fact, 30% of consumers say they purchase items online with the intent of returning and 25% of those same customers wouldn’t make a purchase if they had to pay for the cost of returns. While we're all familiar with the saying “the customer is always right," this can be a hard mantra to live when dealing with returns. In order for retailers to maintain a loyal customer base without negatively impacting their bottom line, retailers should become more strategic with returns policies and processes. Here are a few ways to give yourself a competitive advantage and prevent returns from becoming a pain point at your company:

Winning The Last Mile: Controlling Costs While Satisfying Consumers

The "last mile" of retail — fulfillment, delivery, returns and post-purchase services — has become the latest competitive arena for winning sales and customer loyalty. If retailers fail to meet customer expectations with a delivery or product installation, it's highly unlikely that shoppers will give them a second chance. But while retailers are competing for customer loyalty, they are faced with rising costs around deliveries as well as returns, another critical element of the last mile. And passing these costs along to customers is not an option. Today’s consumers expect free or low-cost shipping.

Can Gap's Virtual Dressing Room App Reduce Returns?

Return rates as high as 30% to 40% have been a long-standing challenge for online apparel retailers. Gap's new DressingRoom app, which uses augmented reality (AR) to help shoppers see how its clothes will fit before they place an order, takes aim at the problem. Shoppers enter their height and weight into the app and select one of five body types, which displays a virtual 3D model to show how different items will fit. If shoppers see something they like, they can buy it from within the app.
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