I returned to Boston earlier today after spending an interesting two days at the 2017 GS1 Connect conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. I had the opportunity to present a session titled “How Retailers are Using Inventory Accuracy to Streamline Operations” with a representative from Target (Kevin O’Dare, Lead Business Partner). Here we talked about the importance of in-store inventory visibility to help facilitate a seamless and consistent omnichannel shopping experience for customers while at the same time elevating their retailer/brand loyalty levels. Accurate inventory visibility is an especially critical challenge from a BOPIS (buy online pickup in store) perspective. Newer store (and retailing) formats hold the key to the future like Target’s smaller footprint locations and Guideshops, part of Walmart’s most recent Bonobos (men’s clothing) acquisition. I also got to attend a few presentations by companies like Target and UPS wherein they discussed not only the importance of GS1 standards as a means to improve communication throughout the supply chain but also talked about how critical data collection is to ensure smooth operations.
As expected, e-commerce and omnichannel are big themes/topics for discussion. No conversation is complete without touching upon the increasing collaboration of distribution and supply chain-related operations with customer-facing channels. Where these used to be completely separate entities in the past, consolidation to address evolving customer shopping preferences is changing the narrative. And fast. Cross-channel order fulfillment and returns processes have altered data requirements for all ecosystem participants – including logistics service providers, manufacturers, and retailers – perhaps forever. The need for standardization in order to manage and maintain these highly fragmented and distributed supply chains now exists more than ever before, thereby necessitating the existence of organizations such as GS1 and ISO that endeavor to ease data collection-related pain points.Here are some of the highlights from the time that I was at the conference:
Data collection and analytics have never been more important than they are today. Organizations’ initiatives to improve the robustness and infallibility of their supply chains will only make data more critical and a central discussion point when it comes to investment considerations. This will bring their technology investments into sharp focus, particularly on the data capture side. VDC will continue to explore these themes (and more) with our 2017 Research on relevant industry topics like omnichannel enablement and cross-channel fulfillment.