Retail supply chains have been put through the wringer. Routes have been disrupted, warehouses, physical stores, and corporate headquarters have been shut down (or at least temporarily closed), and the workforce has been hit by a pandemic like none of us have ever seen in our lifetimes. During this time of uncertainty, not all retailers will survive. Read on to see what the industry currently looks like and if your supply chain is equipped to weather the storm. 

The Importance of Flexible Fulfillment Options

With the COVID-19 pandemic, people are wary. They are leaving their homes less, booking fewer vacations, and in general, embracing the homebody lifestyle more than ever before. Consumers are also approaching shopping differently, whether for essential supplies, groceries, or medications. They want flexible fulfillment options like home delivery or drive-up options at a physical store, as per Supply & Demand Chain Executive. Right now, the less human contact, the better, and those retailers that can make that a reality will have a competitive advantage.

The Continued Dominance of E-commerce

For years now, consumer behavior has favored e-commerce, and the pandemic has only further fortified its dominance. According to Finextra, United States e-commerce spending grew by 93 percent in May alone. 

Additionally, although non-essential stores are beginning to open up, the threat of a second wave lingers, along with the continued fear of being in a closed, confined space with strangers. With all of these variables, most consumers will continue to rely on e-commerce as their primary shopping outlet, both in the long and short term, and e-commerce spending will continue to skyrocket. Supply chain managers would do well to ensure that they have adequate inventory and fast shipping options to appeal to the customer in the same way that Amazon does.

Flexibility Through Digitization

With COVID-19 turning the world upside down, supply chain managers are finally looking into digital initiatives previously not considered a high-priority. Digitization is especially important nowadays as the current supply chain disruption has further decreased visibility from end-to-end. Additionally, companies that still rely on pen and paper have no choice but to adapt to digital formats or automation for the sake of sanitation and social distancing.

Supply chain managers should now prioritize robotics, IoT sensors, and solutions that offer visibility and flexibility, like blockchain. The more digitized and modernized a company’s supply chain is, the more resilient it will be in meeting demand in the ever-evolving COVID landscape. Additionally, digitized supply chains have several benefits for the entire organization, like increased efficiency, profitability, and resilience in the face of adversity. 

Company Ethics Matter Now More than Ever Before

Ethics are in the spotlight right now, and what you say, as a company, matters. To adapt to the times, retailers must clearly and effectively communicate their values and standards, as per Essential Retail. Silence is no longer a viable option, and consumers want to see the brands take a stand. They want transparency, and they want to know that their money is supporting businesses that share their values. Additionally, they want to see brands giving back, especially when life, as we know it, has been turned on its head. Now is a great time to check in with your community and clearly outline your ethics and how your organization plans to help build a brighter future.

How to Make Sure Your Retail Supply Chain is Ready 

The retail industry is changing, and now is the time to embrace those changes and strengthen your supply chains. Ensure that you prioritize flexibility and innovation while taking steps to guarantee that you can handle the explosive growth of e-commerce. Additionally, be transparent with your customers as the world moves forward and look into new technologies to boost your operations. To learn more about blockchain to see if it might be a good fit for your supply chain, get in touch with us.