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Microsoft Industry Blogs

Men and women looking at packages and clothing

Customer expectations are higher than ever but with the right technology, there are limitless ways to delight customers at every step of their journey. Historically, many have considered retail to be a simple business with a great deal of the strategy based on old-fashioned experience, gut instinct, and long-standing supplier relationships. But to compete in a multi-channel world where customers expect amazing experiences with more choices and lightning-fast convenience, the “simple” retail business has become very complex.

Increasing your supply chain agility by using the right infrastructure can reduce costs, allow you to better manage inventory, and deliver operational efficiencies for your business. Building your own intelligent supply chain is the key to agility.

In-store and online retailers need to be able to get products from any channel into customers’ hands when they want them. That means having the right products in stock, in the right location, and at the right time.  You achieve this by orchestrating and optimizing all of your supply chain elements: online customer orders, store, and DC inventory, multiple fulfillment options, and inbound logistics across many borders and time zones. To create a truly harmonious supply chain, you need to get the data right all along the way!

The key is to utilize ALL of the relevant data from EVERY point in your supply chain. By collecting all the data into a single location, you can apply machine learning and AI to better understand how each element is correlated to the others. This connectivity fashions a feedback loop that includes other factors such as environmental conditions, equipment failure, consumer sentiment, and more. The ability to access this richer data, faster, is what creates the agility you need.

For customers, agility is about being able to reschedule an in-flight delivery. For retailers, it’s about making that happen in near real-time while still remaining profitable. For customers, it’s about knowing what’s in this product, where it came from, or whether it’s genuine. But for retailers, agility means using data to discover opportunities to positively impact customer loyalty, satisfaction, and ultimately sales.

We’ve created an executive brief with more in-depth information about creating an intelligent supply chain, and how technology fits in. Check it out and start exploring ways to gain agility for your business.

You may also be interested in Insights for the savvy retail leader where you can gather expert retail insights to evolve your business and learn from the success of others.