Executive Briefings

Delivering a Seamless Customer Experience Demands Visibility

Analyst Insight: Delivering a seamless customer experience will demand a more comprehensive approach to inventory visibility across the entire supply chain. Gone are the days of "offline and online" inventories. Retailers must determine how they will create and leverage one view of all of their inventories, where any location now may become a source to fulfill a customer's order. – Melanie Nuce, Vice President of Apparel and General Merchandise, GS1 US

Delivering a Seamless Customer Experience Demands Visibility

A single, accurate view of the supply chain and the flexibility it provides benefits multiple stakeholders.

• For the consumer, it means purchase flexibility. They can use their tablet in the morning to order a product and decide to either pick it up at a nearby store later that afternoon, or to have it shipped directly to their home.

• For the retailer, it means increased revenue as potential lost sales orders can now be fulfilled from multiple locations. As an additional benefit, the retailer now has the ability to leverage fewer inventories across multiple sources of fulfillment, minimizing overall logistics and delivery costs and increasing their bottom-line results.

The retail industry, using the GS1 System of Standards, is moving toward identifying, capturing and sharing increasingly complex and detailed product information with barcodes as well as electronic product code-enabled radio frequency identification technology for true end-to-end supply chain visibility from the source to the consumer—no matter how or where they shop. Additionally, optimizing “speed-to-web” in today’s digital environment is ripe with opportunity for improvement. In 2015, these two strategies will grow in their importance:

RFID Breaks Through - With announcements of expanded RFID deployments from retailers like Macy’s and Chico's late last year, 2015 will be a particular breakthrough year for RFID. Item-level RFID—meaning each product is tagged at the source—delivers substantial benefits to retailers, brand owners, logistics suppliers and other supply chain trading partners. It can be used to automate processes, record item locations, identify objects and provide increased network-wide inventory accuracy and visibility. Many EPC-enabled RFID tags can be read almost simultaneously, making them a good choice for counting large quantities of items quickly, with little to no human intervention.

Online Product Identification – In today’s rapidly evolving virtual marketplace, a web-friendly version of the same product identifiers, or Global Trade Item Numbers (GTIN), encoded in barcodes can also now be leveraged and extended to establish virtual linkages for product data, images, promotions, coupons and more—ensuring a consistent consumer experience through the search, discovery, purchase and digital checkout processes. Significant investments of time and money are being spent on gathering product attributes and images to list items on e-commerce sites. Not all key attributes and images are standardized, and while some of the data is supplied by vendors, much of it is still being gathered manually by the retailer. GS1 Standards provide a ready-made foundation for better validating and organizing online product information, and there is a tremendous opportunity for industry to continue to collaborate, as customer loyalty may depend on it.

The Outlook

In 2015, retailers must guide technology-savvy consumers through a tailored and personalized purchase experience. By building on existing investments in GS1 Standards, industries of all types can reap the numerous benefits of supply chain visibility. With improved business processes to identify and locate products, as well as share critical data and automate business processes using a common global language, the retail industry can meet the product information demands of today’s digital consumer.

A single, accurate view of the supply chain and the flexibility it provides benefits multiple stakeholders.

• For the consumer, it means purchase flexibility. They can use their tablet in the morning to order a product and decide to either pick it up at a nearby store later that afternoon, or to have it shipped directly to their home.

• For the retailer, it means increased revenue as potential lost sales orders can now be fulfilled from multiple locations. As an additional benefit, the retailer now has the ability to leverage fewer inventories across multiple sources of fulfillment, minimizing overall logistics and delivery costs and increasing their bottom-line results.

The retail industry, using the GS1 System of Standards, is moving toward identifying, capturing and sharing increasingly complex and detailed product information with barcodes as well as electronic product code-enabled radio frequency identification technology for true end-to-end supply chain visibility from the source to the consumer—no matter how or where they shop. Additionally, optimizing “speed-to-web” in today’s digital environment is ripe with opportunity for improvement. In 2015, these two strategies will grow in their importance:

RFID Breaks Through - With announcements of expanded RFID deployments from retailers like Macy’s and Chico's late last year, 2015 will be a particular breakthrough year for RFID. Item-level RFID—meaning each product is tagged at the source—delivers substantial benefits to retailers, brand owners, logistics suppliers and other supply chain trading partners. It can be used to automate processes, record item locations, identify objects and provide increased network-wide inventory accuracy and visibility. Many EPC-enabled RFID tags can be read almost simultaneously, making them a good choice for counting large quantities of items quickly, with little to no human intervention.

Online Product Identification – In today’s rapidly evolving virtual marketplace, a web-friendly version of the same product identifiers, or Global Trade Item Numbers (GTIN), encoded in barcodes can also now be leveraged and extended to establish virtual linkages for product data, images, promotions, coupons and more—ensuring a consistent consumer experience through the search, discovery, purchase and digital checkout processes. Significant investments of time and money are being spent on gathering product attributes and images to list items on e-commerce sites. Not all key attributes and images are standardized, and while some of the data is supplied by vendors, much of it is still being gathered manually by the retailer. GS1 Standards provide a ready-made foundation for better validating and organizing online product information, and there is a tremendous opportunity for industry to continue to collaborate, as customer loyalty may depend on it.

The Outlook

In 2015, retailers must guide technology-savvy consumers through a tailored and personalized purchase experience. By building on existing investments in GS1 Standards, industries of all types can reap the numerous benefits of supply chain visibility. With improved business processes to identify and locate products, as well as share critical data and automate business processes using a common global language, the retail industry can meet the product information demands of today’s digital consumer.

Delivering a Seamless Customer Experience Demands Visibility