5 Top Retail Supply Chain Challenges

Author: Snowflake

Snowflake Thought Leadership

Today’s retail supply chains are as unpredictable as ever. During the pandemic, retailers and suppliers have been forced to adapt to a new economic reality and innovate on the fly, establishing new practices and procedures virtually overnight. Access to the right data for decision-making has become key for companies preparing their supply chains for an uncertain future.

Atheon Analytics and Snowflake have partnered to help the retail industry gain better insights using flow-of-goods analytics to see how product stock is meeting shopper demand. These analytics follow how a product moves through the supply chain and provide insights at every touchpoint, from order into depot, to sales, and out to customers.

Here are five top retail supply chain challenges that can be mitigated or eliminated with flow-of-goods analytics:

Challenge 1: Product Overstock and Wastage

It was reported in early 2020 that a fifth of all the food that is produced in Europe, or 88 million tonnes a year, becomes waste. In the grocery industry, waste has a significant effect on the bottom line. Suppliers in every retail subsector have a significant amount of overstock that goes unsold or needs to be sold at a major discount, resulting in a loss of revenue. Apparel, household goods, and electronics supply companies can lose billions of euros on excess products. Often, suppliers get caught on the waste/availability seesaw: They have too much product on shelves, and then they pull back, resulting in having too little for demand. Instead of constantly teetering between excess and shortage, the goal is to have the right product in the right place at the right time.

Challenge 2: Insufficient New-Product Stock 

Suppose a supplier’s sales department launches a promotion campaign for a new product. Thanks to social media advertising, online and mobile coupons, television spots, and an unforeseen shout-out on a celebrity’s Instagram account, sales go through the roof. However, the supply chain managers didn’t see the demand coming, and inventory hasn’t kept up with demand. Shoppers eagerly look for the product at the store, only to be told there isn’t any left.

Challenge 3: Limited Information for Decision-Making

Suppliers and retailers have to make a number of decisions when they release products: Which stores should they supply? Will certain sizes, colours, or flavours be better in a certain region or at a particular time of the year? These decisions can spell the difference between profit and loss, but retailers lack insight into granular data that will aid in making important choices.

Challenge 4: Unreadiness for Unexpected Events

As we have well seen, economic fluctuations and crises can happen at any moment, leading to make-or-break moments for retailers and suppliers in every industry. Historical data and forecasts that suppliers rely on to manage their supply chains provide little-to-no help during these periods. At these times, suppliers don’t have a lot of time to spend on manually collecting, processing, and analysing data to make the next best decision.

Challenge 5: Lack of Information for Suppliers

The flow of information on product inventory and sales usually goes one way: from retailer to supplier. Suppliers often provide retailers with service-level reports. (“Did I deliver exactly what you ordered?”) But these reports can be easily manipulated, don’t show the impact on the shopper, and do not improve shelf availability.

Conclusion

In today’s retail supply chain, both suppliers and retailers need to harness the power of the cloud and the capability of advanced business analytics to deliver deeper insights and enable data-driven decision-making. With flow-of-goods analytics, suppliers can decrease waste while increasing availability, ensure they meet shopper demands, achieve granular insights from factory to point of sale, better prepare for unpredictable events, and develop strong business relationships with retail partners. 

Atheon Analytics’ SKUtrak and SKUtrak DataShare, powered by Snowflake Secure Data Sharing, give suppliers valuable access to granular flow-of-goods data so they can run their own analyses on constantly updated data sets. To learn how Atheon Analytics and Snowflake enable fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) suppliers and retailers to realise the value of data for better business outcomes through flow-of-goods analytics, download our ebook, 5 Ways Flow-of-Goods Analytics Can Maximize Retail Sales.