COVID-19 has created significant market and supply chain disruptions due to unprecedented shifts in both supply and demand. With retailers and brands cutting inventory, resulting in limited product availability, it's more important than ever that retailers and brands make fast, accurate product design, selection, and pricing decisions to lock in their share of scarce supply. Furthermore, with constantly changing consumer behavior and both supply and store traffic reduced, picking the products that customers will love and pricing them correctly leaves little room for error.
I recently sat down with retail supply chain expert Sean Coxall, CEO at 707 Limited and former president of supply chain solutions at Li & Fung. His message in a nutshell: the old way of doing things no longer works. Retailers and brands no longer have a 20-week to 30-week window to develop a product before putting it on shelves to see if consumers like it. Consumers know what they want, and if retailers can’t keep up and anticipate what the consumer wants and give it to them quickly, they won’t be around for much longer. The supply chain needs to be re-imagined, starting with digitalization.
Jim Shea: Digitalization is both a mouthful and a buzzword. What does it actually mean?
Sean Coxall: Digitalization is a key strategic initiative. It’s using technology to reinvent the whole retail environment to make it more exciting for consumers to shop. As consumers continue to change, it’s more important than ever to connect and listen to them. The end-to-end product development process is being redefined and retooled to discover, create, make and sell products in a new way.