retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Randy Fields, Bruce Christiansen and Sage Horner

The opposite of visibility is the word hidden, which is synonymous with all sorts of potentially troubling terms like concealed, veiled and covert. But the most harmful synonym for those of us trying to optimize the retail supply chain is unknown. The prospect of not knowing where product is, where it’s going, what’s selling and what’s not is one of the things that keep retail and supplier executives up at night.

Unknown orders from DSD vendors, receipts mistakenly entered, ledgers improperly balanced and dozens of other actions that cause store, DC and manufacturing facilities to run at far from optimal levels. And all due to a lack of visibility.

For retailers, visibility means having a series of processes that will reduce inventory, improve operating capital, reduce out-of-stock, increase sales and support the customer experience. For suppliers, visibility means efficiently running operations and collaborating with retailers, which combined increases sales. For both retailers and suppliers, visibility is the key to collaboration. Visibility to the supply chain, visibility to scan data, and visibility to consumer behavior. This visibility results directly in category expertise, improved promotional management, accounting efficiency.

The late Dr. Don Bowersox of Michigan State and Nick LaHowchic, a former supply chain executive at The Limited Brands, wrote in their book Start Pulling Your Chain: "If information was shared fluidly between participating firms in a channel, then a great deal of "anticipation" would be replaced with facts. In a collaborative environment, it would not be necessary to forecast what others are planning to do or what they are planning to buy - you would be able to see it."
In their assessment, and ours, visibility isn't just about making incremental gains in performance and service, although these are often the first benefits achieved. Visibility needs to change the entire supply chain paradigm in many ways, some of which may not be initially understood.
Park City Group provides robust, collaborative supply chain, merchandising and store level solutions for both retailers and suppliers that increase sales, improve operational efficiencies, such as shelf replenishment and merchandising, optimize inventory and reduce out-of-stocks. Our innovative solutions provide trading partners a common platform on which they can capture, manage, analyze and share critical data, bringing greater visibility throughout the supply chain, and giving them the power to make better and more informed decisions.

Next time we’ll show how visibility enhances the shopping experience and creates sales lift for both retailers and suppliers by way of a few case studies. In the meantime, we’re interested in your feedback, so feel free to contact us today. We’ll listen to your challenges and then help you develop and execute a plan to Sell More, Stock Less and See Everything: Email us at sales@parkcitygroup.com, or call (435) 645-2205.
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