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Products, services and propositions

In a world where a competitive advantage can be replicated in weeks rather than years, and where first mover advantage is often the only way to secure success, speed to market has become a critical success factor for our leading organizations.

Time is increasingly recognized as a competitive weapon. The ability to meet the demands of customers for ever-shorter delivery times, and to synchronize supply to meet the peaks and troughs of demand, is of critical importance in this era of ‘time-based competition’.

In the UK, the CEO of Marks & Spencer, Steve Rowe, has created 1,000 new analytical roles to drive supply chain responsiveness improvements, customer understanding and prediction of future trends and needs. M&S understands the value of digital and is investing accordingly.

Global fashion retailer Zara typifies the move to rapid proposition development, agile deployment and product withdrawal. The Zara product lifecycle is weeks, not months, driven by an end-to-end, customer led process across the entire supply chain. This is supported by rapid employee and customer feedback so that products and propositions can be adapted ‘on the fly’.

Zara produces 450 million items a year, all delivered globally, with clockwork precision, to every store, through a small batch delivery system. The New York Times labelled it “mind-spinningly supersonic.”

"A lot of our revenues come from innovation, but it gets copied quickly. We have to get innovation out there quickly. We have to bring things to fruition quicker than everyone else."

Neville Roberts, CIO Best Buy

Firms that succeed are those that have aligned front and back office activities along a digital spine:

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Rapid delivery systems

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Rapid delivery systems

Zalando has set the standard in local delivery management, often exceeding customer expectations. In the UK, Ocado, a grocery delivery service, has driven innovation across the supply chain to such an extent that it’s now selling its inventory management systems and processes globally.

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Bi-directional supply chains

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Bi-directional supply chains

The world of online retailing has meant the management of returns has become a major focus and cost. This is as vital a part of the CX as delivery.

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An extended eco-system of suppliers

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An extended eco-system of suppliers

Leading retailers are overhauling delivery systems to build and enhance multi-supplier relationships. In 2016, approximately one-third of all online sales (according to distributed commerce network Commerce Hub) came from new products that were added to retailers’ online storefronts. New supplier relationships are arising to help fuel growing online product assortments. Platforms are being developed to enable complementary product selections to consumers. All these developments require the management of a supplier ecosystem.

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Big data analytics and planning

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Big data analytics and planning

Retailers need to leverage big data to combine disparate information sources and create value for their customers (and shareholders). For example, it is becoming standard practice for retailers to constantly monitor their competitors’ product assortments. This competitive intelligence is then compared to their own product assortments and the products available through their existing supplier relationships. Assortment ‘gaps’ are then quickly closed, which can lead to increased revenue for retailers as consumers see more relevant products available.