Supply chain data, in other words, is helping retailers pinpoint the types of products and services that make them unique “so we’re not all fighting for the same piece of the market,” he said. More companies are also getting back to business basics, by focusing on such areas as statistical and collaborative forcasting, which can lead to higher reliability in the supply chain. “Forecast accuracy has a tremendous impact on downstream supply,” he said. “What we’re worrying about is how to make the supply chain more predictable.”
That becomes more difficult as the range of CE products (from tiny MP3 players to sophisticated home control systems to giant flat panel TVs) and services continue to grow, said Jim Bottoms, founder and chairman of Understanding & Solutions, a consulting firm. The “collision” of national, regional, local and specialty retailers scrambling to achieve the same goals, and supply chain management can add to even more confusion, he said.
“There are more supplies available, but a push for leaner stock. Product lifecycles are getting shorter due to new feature and fashion trends. Products are getting more complex and need connectivity. Returns are a big issue,” Bottoms said.