Back to school season is upon us and with that means an influx of shoppers heading to retail stores and ecommerce sites to stock up for the school year. According to the National Retail Federation, families with children in elementary school through high school are expected to spend an average of $696.70, while the total spending for families with kids going back to school and college is estimated to reach $80.7 billion.
The increase in demand for school-related products inevitably has a ripple effect on the retail supply chain industry, putting pressure on retailers to be prepared for the rush of families heading to stores in search for the best deals. In addition, with ecommerce giants like Amazon offering one-day shipping, retailers are also being challenged to innovate to retain customers and keep up with the orders being placed on their sites.
Challenges Posed by the Back to School Season
During seasons of high volume, retail supply chain professionals struggle to predict the amount of inventory they will need to meet consumer demands. Considering the massive size and unpredictability of the back to school market, retailers face two major risks.
One risk they face is overstocking themselves and then having to sell their products at a discount. Another risk they face is stocking too little and then having consumers turn to other retailers or to ecommerce sites instead. In both scenarios, profits are lost, and the company takes a hit.
Additionally, retailers face the fact that 85 percent of back to school shoppers are expecting to take advantage of free online shipping. Consumers have now come to expect a fast and high-quality experience for every purchase they order. In order to stay competitive in the era of the ‘Amazon effect,’ retailers are turning to new strategies which are setting them apart from their ecommerce competitors.
Innovations within the Retail Supply Chain Industry
Recently, Target has gained exposure for remodeling some of their stores to serve as fulfillment centers that offer same-day pickup. Though Target announced it has been able to cut forty percent of its costs through this practice, they have also found that they need clear supply and demand visibility in order to efficiently scale up for peak seasons. In addition, Target has had trouble smoothly transitioning their traditional retail workers to working within their in-store distribution centers.
Solutions for High Volume Seasons
With families planning to purchase high volumes of goods as they prepare to send their children back to school, retail supply chain leaders will need to properly identify the problems within their new models and implement solutions that address them. One solution for retail supply chain leaders to better respond to the demand of the back to school season is to utilize technology that analyzes real-time data.
By using real-time data, they will be able to gain visibility to ETAs across all modes. This will then enable precise demand and supply planning, which is particularly useful during peak seasons. Additionally, retailers can leverage data to gain real-time information on customer demand and find potential savings in costs, allowing them to operate at peak efficiency just in time for the start of the school year.
As technology continues to advance, supply chain organizations have a prime opportunity to invest in solutions, which will give them a competitive edge.
To learn more about how to innovate within the retail supply chain, please visit https://www.blumeglobal.com/retail/