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he support infrastructure for getting the right products into retail stores or customer’s doors at the right

time is vast.And technology, to track and trace, automate processes or collect data to feed forecast models, is essential in the supply chain. But current supply chain technology

trends have had to keep pace with consumer demand. Diane McAuliffe, Cable & Wireless Worldwide director of retail, leisure and logistics, observed: “Data shows that customers want their needs satisfying immediately – lack of availability of a product instore or online could mean not just the loss of the sale but also the loss of the customer for good. It is vital that supply chains work efficiently to maintain stocks at optimum levels.” In response, retailers are calling on many

more IT-driven systems and processes than those in the warehouse and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems to keep up. “Improved communications and collaboration throughout the supply and delivery chain based on efficient and reliable ICT is vital,” McAuliffe suggested. “Without the required network infrastructure, retailers will struggle to meet demand from multiple sales channels.” Meeting that demand increasingly also requires sophisticated forecasting capabilities.Analyst firm Gartner recently identified the demand planning process as a key supply chain efficiency enabler. Steven Steutermann, research vice president


Checkpoint Systems installed EVOLVE ECO in 1,250 Tesco Express stores last year and will now roll out the radio frequency (RF) electronic article surveillance (EAS) system in over 900 of the retailer’s Extra, Superstore and Metro stores over the next few months, replacing the existing acoustic-magnetic technology to help reduce its operational costs and carbon footprint and improve on-shelf product availability.


at Gartner, said: “The balance between bottom-up collaborative approaches versus top-down statistical modelling is challenging, and the ability to understand baseline volumes from promotional volumes — as well as mix and shift within portfolios — is an equally daunting task.” The analyst advised that organisations should measure forecast accuracy at the item, location and customer level. “Customer or sales forecast accuracy should be measured for continuous improvement and accountability.The appropriate place to measure for continuous improvement is in the sales and operations planning (S&OP) review process,” he said. Cindy Etsell, SAS UK & Ireland retail

industry marketing manager, agreed that retailers must overcome historical challenges in analysing and using their customer, product and behavioural data to support supply chain decision-making processes: “This data is fast becoming even more of a challenge with so many different channels to market like mobile, online, Wi- Fi and video: retailers are generating and collecting data faster, in greater volumes, in a wider variety of formats and from a greater range of sources than ever before.” Data tracking technologies, like radio frequency identification (RFID), have also encouraged a new wave of warehouse automation.Tammy Weant, Retalix supply chain executive vice president and general manager, commented: “Warehouse

automation enables retailers to make their warehouses more cost-efficient and effective, while giving managers better control over the warehouse operation. The other functionality that our customers have found beneficial with automated warehouses is that they can be operated 24 hours a day with minimal costs.” Supply chain tracking, monitoring and

analysis not only optimises inventory and margins, but is also increasingly used to ensure compliance with legislation by certifying safety, quality and defending against theft and the rise of counterfeit products. Gerrit-Jan Steenbergen, managing director of supply chain, identification and mobility systems provider Zetes, added: “We are continuously seeing retailers and suppliers implementing tracking solutions in order to comply with increasingly complicated legislation.” Kevin Payne, strategic director of on- demand data visibility systems provider for cold chain and asset management Intelleflex, concluded: “Actionable data is what drives effective real-time decision making: prioritising routes based on relative remaining shelf life, waste reduction by ensuring proper temperature management and providing documented quality of delivery throughout the supply chain.” The implementation examples outlined

in this year’s Retail Technology supply chain feature demonstrate how retailers are using the latest technologies to enhance supply chain data and operations.

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