2016 Retail Supply Chain Conference convened about 1,500 supply chain pros from all over the country, including executives from traditional retailers, e-commerce shops, service providers, and more. Despite their diversity in size, scope, market and systems, these attendees all have one thing in common. They are each trying to figure out how to keep their supply chains up to date and meeting new challenges that arise with new technologies, all while keeping their customers happy and their brand intact. As was said in the conference introductions, retailers are now expected to fulfill an order anywhere, anytime. So how do they keep up?|
In his opening keynote address,
Target Corp.'s Chairman & CEO Brian Cornell addressed this dilemma head on.
"I don't know all the answers. But when I think about a challenge this big, it's a problem best solved together," said Cornell.
Cornell went on to explain that success is often about finding a simple solution to a complex problem. Citing legendary UCLA (of which Cornell is an alum) basketball coach John Wooden and his focus on fundamentals with player development, Cornell says he's adopting the same principle at Target when it comes to its strategy for modernizing its supply chain.
"We have to get the fundamentals right. We have to make sure those foundational initiatives are in place first," he said.
Fundamental to Target's operations, according to Cornell, is serving the consumer, and supply chain modernization boils down to expanding capabilities for those consumers. This can only be successful when the foundation of the business is stable. For Target, expanding its offerings means viewing the supply chain as a global network, paying attention to industry developments (drones, anyone?), and working as a team to move work upstream.
But Target is just one of many retailers focused on building a strong operational structure as a means to prepare for the future.
As one might expect, the supply chain structure that was the gold standard 10, 20, or even five years ago doesn't fly in today's world. Because omnichannel is the name of the game, retailers are having to completely rethink and redesign their supply chain networks from the ground up, as was discussed in the breakout session titled, “Designing the Omnichannel Supply Chain with Integrated Optimization & Simulation.” This includes everything from inventory positioning, transportation, the role of the store, and services offered to consumers, according to panelists
Earl Davis of Cabelas,
Peter Hunnewell of Michael Kors, and
Toby Brzoznowski of Llamasoft. They say that in order to meet today's unique customer demands, they're approaching supply chain operations much more holistically, and asking more questions internally about what supply chain structure works best for the future.
In fact, “future-proofing the supply chain” is a common theme among all speakers thus far at the conference. For
Unilever's Marc Engel, future proofing operations means moving towards a more sustainable and environmentally friendly system. For
Ulta Beauty's Derek Hornsby, it's embracing different leadership styles to encourage new ideas and unique problem-solving techniques. And for
J.C. Penney's Mike Robbins it's about making sure your supply chain is reliable, collaborative, full of “rock star talent,” and ultimately swinging for the fences.
Macy's Senior VP of Logistics & Operations Bill Connell also pointed to the heightened role of the consumer in the supply chain during a breakout session on "final mile" strategies, along with
Electrolux's Josh Benton and
XPO's CEO Brad Jacobs. According to Connell, there is no "one size fits all" when it comes to strategies for delivering products to consumers, and taking the time to understand a customer's preferences and expectations and responding to those preferences is critical.
"We all have to be open to understanding change, new ideas, and the relentless emergence of technology, how it all works, and how it will work in the next five years," said Connell.
full recap via Chain Store Age.