Lee Payne, Traka Business Development Manager looks at the strategies retailers are employing to ensure a fast and efficient supply chain and logistics process, harnessing the latest advancements in intelligent security.
Effective logistics and supply chain management are critical components of the retail industry today. The need to evolve and act fast, with the efficient management of stock, products, and assets is key to meeting customer demands and driving business growth.
Setting the tone for 2023, as the stalwart King of the High Street, is Primark. It resisted any move towards online shopping until 2022 when it introduced a click-and-collect trial for kidswear, which it now plans to extend to women’s clothing.
Last year, the retailer declared a wider ambition to “transform” its digital presence, launching the click-and-collect service to satisfy “unfulfilled demand”. Primark claims it has helped to drive footfall from both existing and new customers, delivering incremental sales in-store.
Primark also operates a stock checker tool for customers to see if a particular product is available in their local store.
Yet despite all this digital reach, it remains “firmly based in bricks and mortar.” So successful in delivering to its customers, it is one of the largest fashion retailers in Europe and the largest by volume in the UK, with profits set to have risen by 15% to £9bn for the year.
At the other end of the scale, we have most recently seen the demise of Wilko, which struggled to join up its online and in-store operations. As the market became more competitive post-COVID and as consumers changed their shopping permanently, it failed to act. And it has now lost out, being saved from collapse by The Range.
To maintain their position, retailers cannot afford to stand still. They have to continue to re-evaluate every aspect of their operations, managing an omnichannel experience and ensuring a smooth process from distribution to technology management to recruitment, marketing, and supply chain logistics. This is all to achieve customer expectations for up-to-date information and fast delivery of products, with no compromise on quality.
Given the customer journey is no longer linear, ensuring a seamless operation from order to collection has become imperative. Not only does this support the premium customer experiences consumers now expect, but it also safeguards a retailer’s bottom line.
This places additional pressure on an already stretched supply chain and logistics sector, with increasing emphasis on the swift delivery of products to meet customer expectations. In response, many retailers are investing in advanced technology, such as warehouse automation and predictive analytics, alongside intelligent key and equipment management solutions to enhance their logistics capabilities.
As the Operations Development Manager – Supply Chain at Primark puts it, “Primark’s products fly off the shelves and rails, so we need to get our products from suppliers to stores as quickly and as safely as possible.”
And as another high street stalwart who uses Traka for its supply chain says: “We are aware we need to respond to personalised customer queries quickly and efficiently, with the right information on any product or service.”
To thrive in this environment requires efficiently optimising every step of the supply chain, from order processing and inventory management to shipping and last-mile delivery.
Yet logistics operations are not just about speed; they also encompass transparency, accountability and communication. Customers want real-time updates on their orders, accurate delivery timeframes, and easy access to both automated and “human” customer support if issues arise. Retailers who excel in these areas can build trust and brand loyalty.
These instances exemplify how security technology can play a pivotal role in raising standards and safeguarding assets.
Security technology plays a pivotal role in supporting retailers to ensure a seamless supply chain and logistics operation, safeguarding assets and maintaining business continuity.
Advanced security technology, such as RFID tags and surveillance systems, helps retailers track inventory in real time. RFID technology allows for quick and accurate inventory counts, reducing the risk of overstocking or understocking products. Allowing retailers to keep customers updated with stock.
Surveillance systems with video analytics can identify suspicious activities and potential theft, both from an external and internal perspective, contributing to loss prevention efforts. Itself a major issue for retailers in the current climate.
Warehouses, that are central to the supply chain, can be controlled with access control systems or smart technology to ensure only authorised personnel can enter sensitive areas. Intrusion detection systems and CCTV surveillance enhance warehouse security, protecting valuable stock and ensuring smooth operations.
Supply chain visibility is crucial for monitoring the movement of goods from suppliers to stores. GPS tracking and IoT (Internet of Things) sensors provide real-time data on the location and condition of shipments. Retailers can proactively address any delays, disruptions, or quality issues, ensuring products reach their destinations on time and in optimal condition.
As retailers rely on digital platforms for supply chain management, data security becomes paramount. Encryption, secure data storage, and robust cybersecurity measures protect sensitive information, including customer data, payment details, and proprietary supply chain data – making the real difference between really understanding consumer behaviour, purchasing habits and preferences.
Intelligent key management technology can empower retailers to enhance security, respond promptly to customer needs, reduce losses, and boost efficiency. Their intelligent systems significantly streamline operations and save both time and money by granting control over access to keys and equipment.
The primary objective overall is to enhance the customer experience and cater to their evolving demands.
Intelligent key and asset management systems have become essential tools for retailers looking to ensure secure logistics operations.
In addition to assets, retailers must manage keys to various facilities and vehicles. Intelligent key management systems automate distribution and retrieval processes, reducing the risk of lost or stolen keys. These systems also maintain an audit trail of key usage, making it easy to identify who had access to keys and when.
Logistics systems can ensure the coordination of delivery, essential to ensure effective turnaround times. Traka’s multifunctional DockSafe dock door solution has been installed at Primark distribution centres to stop vehicles prematurely leaving Goods Out Bays, alongside intelligent key management systems.
Another high street favourite has used Traka’s specialist locker systems throughout its branch network and top-ranking online operations, to store, charge and manage dedicated mobile devices, enabling instant availability for customer service teams across the UK.
The move was part of a key store investment strategy, which introduced mobile devices to enable authorised users to take web orders and respond to customer enquiries and stock checks, instantly and efficiently, creating the tools for a seamless omnichannel experience.
In conclusion, smart management systems have become essential tools for retailers looking to ensure smooth and secure logistics and supply chain operations. These systems offer enhanced security, access control, asset tracking, and valuable data analytics capabilities.
By implementing intelligent key and asset management solutions, retailers can not only protect their assets but also optimise their processes from order to delivery, leading to increased profitability and customer satisfaction. As the retail industry continues to evolve, these systems will remain critical for success in a competitive marketplace.