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04/25/2022

How to improve your retail supply management

Erin Wagner of Limble CMMS discusses how retailers can better their supply chain management of private label goods in our latest guest blog.

Learning how to improve your supply management is crucial for success in retail. Without proper supply chain management, the products will not reach your customers’ hands, and this can cost you your business. 

Additionally, customer expectations and shopping experiences have evolved a lot in the last few years, especially with the Covid-19 outbreak. Being able to keep up with these changes and meeting your customers’ needs is of utmost importance to succeed as a retail business today. 

Knowing the importance of supply chain management in retail, what steps can you take to improve it and make it more efficient? 

Let’s dive in and see!

1. Choose the right supply chain strategy

If you’re a retailer that started by buying wholesale and reselling with a 30% or 50% markup, it might be time to rethink your strategy. 

Is wholesale the best supply chain strategy for you? Think about other options, such as building a private label brand that will give you higher profit margins.

Wholesale vs. private label

With your traditional wholesale buying supply chain method, you buy an already branded product in bulk and then resell it for a higher price. Here are the benefits of buying wholesale:

  • Easier and faster to start since you don’t develop a new product from scratch
  • Existing brand awareness, customer base, and a stable demand
  • A stable inventory supply and multiple available suppliers
  • Lower risk since you don’t own the brands you’re reselling
  • A typical retail markup of 30% to 50%

Private labeled goods, on the other hand, are those you develop from scratch with the help of a third-party supplier (typically a manufacturer/factory). 

Recently, private label brands are gaining traction and popularity. Today, they don’t represent “the cheaper option”, but rather “exclusivity” or “brand recognition”. In fact, wholesale buyers can learn a lot from private labels. 

Here are the biggest pros of private label products:

  • Complete control over the product and its features
  • Complete branding control - you choose all brand elements
  • Higher profit margins if you differentiate a product successfully
  • More possibilities for scaling and growing your brand
  • Long-term customer loyalty

2. Use supply chain management technology

Supply chain management technology, such as cloud-based software able to track inventory in real-time, is crucial for accurately forecasting the demand. 

Next, think of implementing a CMMS software that will help you with warehouse maintenance

One of the biggest struggles of retailers nowadays is the irregular and inconsistent demand. Perhaps the pandemic played a part in it, but many customers today will choose convenience over brand loyalty. This is another area where technology can help since AI and data-based algorithms can help you predict the product demand more accurately and in real-time. 

3. Fulfillment and distribution centers close to your buyers

Transportation and shipping costs account for a large chunk of your expenses. By bringing your stock closer to your customers, you can decrease these costs and offer better delivery times to your customers. 

A good way to do this is by collaborating with drop-shipping agents, fulfillment centers, or 3PLs (third-party logistics providers) in locations close to your customers. 

4. Rethink your pricing strategy

Your product pricing should never be a static number. It moves, evolves, and changes according to different factors such as demand, competition, etc. Finding the right pricing method for retail is vital for good revenue and long-term success.

How is pricing related to supply chain management? It’s simple - without proper cash flow, you will struggle to keep your business afloat, especially in the case of private label brands that need upfront capital for product development. 

5. Synchronize marketing and supply chain

By ensuring that your marketing team and your supply chain work hand-in-hand, you’ll avoid out-of-stock problems and be able to plan the demand as accurately as possible. 

Having these departments work in an agile and synchronized way is especially important around sales, promotions, holidays or any other marketing campaigns that can affect the demand.

Conclusion

All things considered, the most important thing for retailers and small businesses is to choose the most fitting and appropriate supply chain management strategy for their model and customer needs. 

Last but not least, remember that your retail supply management should be an evolving and changing process that follows the customers’ evolving shopping experience expectations. Leveraging technology, big data, and AI software can help you improve your retail supply management and accurately predict your supply needs.

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Erin Wagner headshot

Wagner serves as VP of marketing for Limble CMMS. After earning a Bachelor's degree in Communications, she built the custom social media analysis division for the world's largest PR measurement firm working directly with clients like Boeing, Johnson & Johnson, and GLOCK. From there, Erin landed in computer vision startups working on products like facial recognition for loss prevention and breath detection for medically-fragile newborns.

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