My own research and that of other management consultants, continually reveals that a staggeringly low percentage of organisations have any formally documented multi-year supply chain strategy.
With that in mind, it would seem that any strategy is better than nothing. However, for high street retailers, which are now in many cases embattled by online competitors offering home delivery, the very act of remaining in business requires not just any strategy, but a winning supply chain strategy—one that’s sharply focused on adding value for customers.
But what does a winning supply chain strategy for retailers actually look like?
Triple-A is the Only Way
A winning supply chain strategy for retailers can be defined as comprising three “A”s.
These three “A”s stand for Affordability, Availability and Assortment.
Sometimes known as the Triple-A strategy, successful retailers that employ it leverage their supply chains to maintain an affordable, available assortment of products on the shelves of their stores.
Principles of the Triple-A Retail Supply Chain Strategy
The three tenets of the Triple-A strategy drive a combination of optimised supply chain processes, which together, achieve the desired outcomes:
Affordability is achieved by optimising the logistics network, employing smart sourcing strategies and minimising waste.
Availability is assured through a focus on accurate forecasting, accompanied by risk-mitigation tactics such as postponed inventory allocation, which provide some protection against the occasional forecasting error.
Product Assortment is optimised by creating responsiveness in the supply chain and by taking a thorough approach to planning, with rapid store replenishment playing a key part in the overall strategy.
Other Elements of Winning Retail Supply Chain Strategy
In addition to implementing the three “A”s, successful retailers continuously seek ways to improve and add value to the experiences of their shoppers via the supply chain.
Many are adding online routes to market, enabling their customers to order online and then collect their orders from the closest brick-and-mortar high street store. Others use the supply chain to ease the work of store employees and help them stay focused on customer service; for example, by supplying fashion outlets with clothes ready-mounted on hangers.
The important takeaway here is that in any commercial sector, where a supply chain exists, long-term success depends upon the existence of a formal strategy for the supply chain itself. Furthermore, that strategy should have customer satisfaction as the foremost driver, while remaining in line with the needs and objectives of the business overall.
Learn More at The Supply Chain Leaders Academy
If you’re a member of The Supply Chain Leaders Academy, you can learn a lot more about the importance of supply chain strategy for retailers, wholesalers, brand owners, non-profit and other organisations.
The education begins in eClass #2, where you can find out about the imperatives and enablers of strategy for supply chain. If you’re not yet a member, why not visit our home page and find out about some of the membership benefits?