Professionals working or managing retail supply chain can tell you just how challenging it can become to optimize and bring efficiency to the supply chain. The complications that exist in the retail supply chain are far complicated than the supply chain in any other industry. But the advent of digital technology and other innovations have brought about landmark changes in the way retail supply chain operates. Majority of the big names in the retail industry are jumping on the bandwagon to embrace digital technologies that can assist their supply chain. For instance, Google and Walmart have joined forces to offer thousands of Walmart items on its voice-controlled Google Assistant platform. So, what does the future hold for the retail supply chain?
The Future of Retail Supply Chain
One of the persistent problem troubling online retailers is the sheer number of returns and their expenditure on reverse logistics. The cost of reverse logistics becomes significantly high when it comes to fashion retailers who encounter high amount of returns due to fit, color, size, design issues. Recent reports have suggested that online fashion retailers in the US report a return rate between 20%-40% costing them millions of dollar. Retailers are looking at home try-one as a fix to this problem, where customers try the fashion item and return it instantly if any issues persist. For instance, Warby Parker offered its consumers options to try up to 5 frames online before making a purchase. This home try-on option enabled the company to offer its product at a price range of below $100.
Voice-based Orders and Other Innovations
Although voice-based order is in its nascent stage, the adoption rate looks to increase at an unprecedented rate. Currently, voice search on Google already accounts for 20% of the total search volume. Machine learning, natural-language question answering, and virtual personal assistants are set to take over the future in terms of customer demand fulfillment. Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa already have product lines that are highly responsive to voice commands. On the other hand, Amazon has made ordering easier with its new product named Amazon Dash, which automatically orders items that are out of stock with just a push of a button.
Solving the Last-mile Problem
The last-mile delivery problem has been troubling retailers for a long time now. The future, however, looks set to tackle such retail supply chain problems with multiple solutions. One solution that has received much appreciation from the retail industry is drones. Drones can solve the last-mile connectivity problem with ease and also allows the shipper to operate it remotely or even autonomously. Also, some retailers have looked upon uberization to solve such problems. Based on the principles of sharing economy, retailers are sharing the delivery vehicle in order to optimize the delivery and reduce cost base for the company. Additionally, retailers have also implemented crowdsourcing programs by rewarding customers to deliver the parcel on the way to other customers.