Modern consumers are used to the comfortable situation where any commodity they need is just a few steps or clicks away from them, being available 24/7/365. Thus, whenever we lack something, we drop by the local mall or order it delivered to our front door via the internet. But making a purchase, we seldom wonder what makes such consumer-friendly shopping possible. And the answer is pretty simple – the smooth operation of supply chains.
In the contemporary, largely globalized world, supply chains are the veins through which the blood of the economy circulates, ensuring a flawless connection between manufacturers and end-users. As the consumer market covers the entire planet and embraces an almost limitless range of products, handling supply chains becomes quite an ordeal for entrepreneurs of all kinds, especially in retail.
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What are the bottlenecks that retail businesses face today?
These stumbling blocks are quite serious in themselves, but retail ventures have to take care of the numerous features of the supply chain lifecycle as well, including supplier relationships control, purchase and order processing, inventory and warehouse management, logistics procurement, demand anticipation, not to mention bookkeeping and other financial aspects.
Fortunately, ours is not only the epoch of globalization but of the across-the-board digitalization as well. State-of-the-art technologies enable integrating all these previously disparate assignments into one system, employing different types of supply chain management software.
Supply chain management tools are software apps that function as real-time analytical mechanisms enabling to manage the end-to-end flow of products and data, related to supplier sourcing, transportation, warehousing, and inventory handling. The best supply chain software also provides round-the-clock monitoring and total transparency of supply operations at each junction of the process.
Having been developing software for retail ventures for a decade, we at DICEUS know what perks tools used in supply chain management offer.
The top supply chain management software has integrated accounting modules that streamline financial operations and exclude mistakes caused by the human factor, which are likely to cost the company a pretty penny. But even apart from those valuable functions, supply management tools are instrumental in optimizing and automating many workflow procedures, which reduces both the time spent for them and the number of employees involved in often monotonous and repetitive assignments. All of this spells cutting down on overhead expenditures.
The core function of supply management software is ensuring an accelerated flow of everything related to supply – information, materials, and goods. Speed is mission-critical in the age of cut-throat competition. Departments should quickly exchange business messages, outlets should receive products on short notice, customers should get answers to their inquiries fast. Such promptness is the foundation of a smooth delivery, smart and flexible decision-making, seamless in-house collaboration, and high-quality customer services – the summands that boost an organization’s efficiency granting it a competitive edge.
The most popular supply chain management software solutions contain analytical tools that give a 360-degree view of clients, their demographics, preferences, and shopping behavior. Possessing this information, the company’s experts can draw a comprehensive portrait of their customers and map out a marketing strategy to meet them halfway, which effectively turns such solutions into supply chain planning tools.
Having sufficient inventory means being able to timely respond to demand fluctuations. But how much is enough? Supply chain tools can help you keep track of the roster and quantity of items you have to rule out both the absence of some products and their excess that eats up warehouse space and related expenditures. Moreover, by employing supply chain tools software, you can meticulously schedule goods delivery and shipment to drastically cut down on storage facilities.
Specialized features of many supply chain software solutions enable comparison between several vendors in terms of the prices of their goods, delivery speed, support services, and other operational details. With a clear view of available options, retail managers could make better data-driven decisions and switch a supplier if their conditions stopped being most favorable.
The undeniable boons of supply chain software make it a must-have for any retail company with big-time aspirations. What are the available options in this niche?
Having Microsoft as its most notable client (and about 400,000 smaller ones), this vendor is the global leader in terms of revenues its supply chain management products have brought. In fact, SAP is not a single solution but a whole suite of tools providing supply chain collaboration, warehouse management, integrated business planning, etc. Making use of them, organizations can significantly augment storage and inventory management, streamline shipment management procedures, and facilitate cooperation with multiple suppliers.
This software keeps abreast of the cutting-edge technologies (such as AI, IoT, and cloud deployment), which allows leveraging advanced analytics, producing sales forecasts, mapping out financial and supply plans, and doing dozens of other things that will beef up your company’s efficiency.
The only drawback of this supplier one can mention is the lack of phone- and email-based customer support.
It has the runner-up spot in revenues, outstripping SAP in the number of customers. Oracle can offer an impressive line of cloud-based SCM products covering different aspects of supply chain management: procurement, order management, product lifecycle management, inventory control, supply chain planning, logistics, and maintenance. Such a roster of tools enables enterprises not only to handle all phases of supply workflow but also to shape cost reduction and revenue growth policies based on the in-depth analysis of the customer persona.
The major shortcoming of Oracle is identical to the one mentioned above.
This logistics behemoth firmly holds third place in SCM software revenues with its solutions utilized by 20 out of the top 25 supply chains rated by Gartner that operate not only in retail but also in manufacturing, entertainment, travel, and hospitality industries. JDA’s tool is an end-to-end supply chain solution enabling both planning and implementation. It encompasses all aspects of the supply workflow – from scheduling and inventory management to workforce and task supervision with budgeting and forecasting in-between.
This software facilitates collaboration with retailers and bolsters customer service by forestalling their shopping desires. The downside of it worth mentioning is the absence of alerts that keep managers updated on every stage of the shipment process.
Software by this vendor is specifically honed for production planning and scheduling, opening broad streamlining opportunities for inventory optimization. Its supplier management functionality is meant to compare the quality of delivery displayed by various suppliers.
To make use of it, you have to contact the developer for a quote, yet no trial period or demo version of the solution is available to help you make up your mind.
Being not among the niche leaders, this vendor, however, shows the most robust growth pattern and offers a comprehensive suite of tools capable not only of supply workflow management but also of forecasting demand and planning the organization’s supply strategy. Among its unquestionable fortes is the procurement module that sends alerts in case any transactions demand attention, return management opportunities, and a free demo version extended to clients. Customer support is also in evidence, although only during the working day.
When you are through with the choice of the supply chain management software, you should integrate it with your existing ecosystem.
Experts of DICEUS have amassed tons of experience in new software integration, so they consider it essential to pay attention to the following tips.
But each retail organization is unique in terms of size, the products it deals in, the market it serves, shipment geography, and other aspects. Naturally, the garden variety of supply chain management software can hardly be a perfect fit for all of them. If this is your story, contact DICEUS to commission a bespoke SCM that will contain only the functionalities you need and thus will suit your venture to a tee.
Modern retail business is a complex endeavor with a whole range of tasks and responsibilities to attend to. Providing an uninterrupted supply circulation is probably the most important and onerous of them given the challenges our globalized world pitches. Supply chain management software can radically streamline such efforts, facilitating workflow processes, curtailing expenditures, and boosting the efficiency of the company.
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