The need to address existing supply chain and logistics challenges like rapidly evolving customer demands, changing business dynamics, and poor transportation visibility rose to alarming levels post the pandemic. Having said that, the disruptions caused by COVID-19 triggered an immediate need for enterprises to digitize logistics and delivery operations to ensure scalability and business sustainability.
According to a report, online retail sales increased 32.4 percent Y-o-Y in 2020, going up 39 percent in the first quarter of 2021. Hence, offline retail stores are adopting digital means to cater to at-home shoppers and stay relevant. As per Harvard Business Review, 73 percent of customers like to shop from multiple channels. With the customer as the king, personalization has become the need of the hour to stand out and ensure business success.
The 21st-century business vista calls for a new and improved retail supply chain that has digitization at its core. This infusion of technology has enabled the retail sector to meet modern-day challenges. With the entire world pivoting towards a smart and contactless state-of-the-art business interface for networking in the new normal, a resilient and agile omnichannel approach is a must to maintain productivity and profitability in these transformed times.
Here’s how retail supply chains are building this flexibility to survive and thrive in the post-pandemic world:
- As data becomes the new oil, much of the business world and its operations are set to revolve around harnessing the infinite potential of data. Big data and data sciences are slated to become the game-changers of contemporary retail businesses. Most players are collating and analyzing vast data pools of consumers to identify the various shifting consumer dynamics and preferences. With the power of data, companies can acquire a substantial insight into the customer’s mind, their various likes and dislikes as well as what’s trending presently across the business environment. This can work wonders for any retailing business by giving it a beneficial edge. This is the appropriate time for businesses to capitalize on this novel tech field and accordingly invest to enhance their data-related capabilities to develop resilience and agility in the new normal.
- It is absolutely imperative to invest in a smart logistics management platform to bolster the present operations. This means businesses must digitize their entire supply chain to neutralize the unprecedented speed bumps and demand escalations that are common in these changed post-COVID circumstances. They must embrace the latest hi-tech platforms that extend scalability and customization options to the customers to increase business resilience and stay relevant.
- Now is the right time for retail houses to ensure end-to-end transparency for achieving greater chances of success as compared to those that operate obscurely. Indian retail businesses are deploying various cutting-edge tools such as real-time tracking, digital documentation, alerts, and feedback options that increase an organization’s answerability to its customers. This leaves no room for doubt as customers can now clearly keep a track of each and every service that they wish to receive.
- Retail businesses wishing to secure themselves in the new normal must obtain regular insights into their partner ecosystem to better understand the market and the competition. This includes assessing 3PL performance, managing SLAs, reducing last-mile costs, etc. It is also essential for businesses to focus on hyper-localization for faster and on-demand deliveries. Hyper-localization allows retailers to effectively address customer demand by zeroing down to the block level to learn what customers seek most. It is simply localization taken to the next level by inserting an extra layer of customization.
As the survival game against the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Indian retail businesses have strategically transformed their previous modes of operation. The pan-industry digital adoption allows businesses to build resilience and flexibility that helps move agilely within the new normal. That said, only companies that invest sufficiently in enhancing their technology stacks and developing omnichannel capabilities will be able to brave the post-pandemic turbulence. After all, in this age of digital consumption, the consumer continues to be the king.