As consumers gain power, not only do they start shopping in more complex ways, they expect retailers to be able to fulfill their increasingly complex demands quickly–and without issue. As a result, the next generation supply chain is truly "the next big thing" for retail.
Zara introduced a new tagging system that will speed up the process of getting apparel into stores and out to shoppers.
While omnichannel retail is the biggest growth area for retailers, the majority of retail CEOs are focused on traditional growth areas. Eighty-three percent of global retail CEOs believe that their retail supply chains are currently "not optimal" for today's changing retail environment, according to a recent study conducted by PwC for JDA Software. At the same time, only 34 percent of CEOs consider the rise of omnichannel shopping to be an external threat, while only 22 percent said it will have a direct impact on their organization, according to the survey of 400 global retail CEOs. "The rise of omnichannel is one of the most transformational shifts that has occurred in retail in recent times," said Baljit Dail, chairman of the board and interim CEO, JDA Software, in a statement. "Retailers who don't understand the strategic alignment of their supply chain with consumer expectations are in danger of becoming non-competitive."
Walmart plans to open a 1.2 million sq. ft. e-commerce fulfillment facility in Plainfield, Indiana. The center, in the AllPoints Midwest Industrial Park, is expected to create around 300 jobs by 2016.
Sears Holdings is seeking to grow e-commerce and in-store sales by bolstering supply chain and fulfillment.
U.S. retailers looking to use stores for online order fulfillment could have a new role model from across the pond. Tesco, Waitrose and Sainsbury in the U.K. have been using "dark stores" to fill up to 4,000 online orders a day.
Apple is tops when it comes to supply chain performance, according to a new report by Gartner.
Amazon has long been a fulfillment story rather than a retail one, but it's the consumer-facing side of its business that gets the bulk of attention. Not so much lately, as the spotlight turns to expanded delivery and automated fulfillment, now with robots.
Target is expanding its subscription service for frequently purchased items, increasing the number of products available from 200 to more than 1,500. Target quietly launched the program in fall 2013 with a focus on baby, making diapers, formula, wipes and training pants available for automatic replenishment. Thanks to the its early success, the retailer is now expanding the service ahead of schedule. Available items now include cleaning supplies, household goods, health and beauty aids and pet products. There will also be a small selection of home office items such as printer ink and select groceries including coffee pods. And while the initial test was indeed quiet—Target did no advertising or marketing—the chain will now actively promote subscriptions with online banner ads and discounts, according to Target spokesman Eddie Baeb.
Gap is making a $300 million investment in digital as the retailer builds out omnichannel capabilities and focuses on responsive design.