86 percent of UK retailers haven’t completed supply chain digitisation


According to new research released from Gravity Supply Chain Solutions, 86 percent of UK retailers haven’t completed the digitisation processes (using a cloud based platform with real time visibility, and automation capabilities) required to give them full control of their supply chain.

Without this type of control, retailers will struggle with speed to market, hampering their ability to efficiently allocate supply with demand with the knock-on impact of reducing sales opportunities.

Based on interviews with 500 retail executives in the U.K. and the U.S. the research reveals that 86 percent of U.K. retail businesses are yet to fully digitise their supply chain management processes. What is surprising, is that 61 percent of retail businesses see digitisation as critical to creating seamless omnichannel retail experiences.

When exploring what factors businesses considered to be the blockers to digitisation, the survey found cost to be the main obstacle for approximately half (52 percent) of retailers who are yet to undergo supply chain digitisation, and this is likely because the retail industry is worried they may not realise a return on investment from digitisation. This evidence gets further supported by the fact that an additional 28 percent of respondents cited the inability to justify the cost as the most significant blocker to digitisation projects.

“With strong investment in front-end technologies designed to enhance the customer experience such as smart kiosks, and AR apps targeted ads, it begs the questions why retailers appear slow to digitise their supply chains.” says Graham Parker, CEO of Gravity Supply Chain Solutions “If retailers can’t bring speed to market to meet growing consumer demand, this will disappoint customers, and potentially undermine investments made to improve customer experience at the front-end. Clearly, the supply chain is the final frontier of retail digitisation, and while retailers are anxious about the cost, not moving from manual spreadsheet-based supply chain management towards digitised processes that provide speed, efficiency and informed decision making, could cost them a whole lot more.”

The research found that many of the U.K. retail businesses that are yet to complete digitisation projects say they do however recognize the value in doing so. Lower cost of operation was seen as the most popular benefit among those yet to digitise (34 percent), followed closely by greater customer experience (31 percent), and higher profit margins (26 percent).

For those who have fully digitised their supply chains, one significant benefit has been better decision-making with 76 percent stating that they believe their organisation has enough data and insight to make the right decisions about its supply chain following digitisation. More than half (57 percent) of retailers say that order tracking across all touchpoints has improved the customer experience while 61 percent say customer experience has been improved by opening up greater possibilities when it comes to products and options.

The key and most significant learnings from this research report are that the vast majority of retailers understand the value of supply chain digitisation. However many are yet to realise how urgently they should be completing digitisation projects.

Supply chain digitisation presents a massive opportunity for retailers to improve customer loyalty and the correct solution can allow them to add analytical, predictive, and AI capabilities in phases to help meet consumer demand in the most efficient way possible.

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