Earlier in 2021, retailers could create an intelligent supply chain to successfully navigate through the disruptions and quickly adapt to changing customer behavior. As our retail customers embarked on the journey to create a resilient and intelligent supply chain, there were three key areas that emerged where our customers prioritized their investments optimizing fulfillment, predicting supply chain risks, and enhancing supply chain visibility. Let’s take a look at some of Microsoft’s recent innovations in these areas that enable retailers to create a supply chain of the future.
Turning order fulfillment into a competitive advantage
A retailer’s success hinges on having the right inventory at the right place at the right time. As retailers and brands continue to adapt to meeting the growing e-commerce demand, determining where the inventory is fulfilled for e-commerce versus in-store orders becomes critical to ensure that customer demands are met on time and in a profitable manner.
As a recent Gartner report found, one of the ways to achieve supply chain excellence is by holding distribution center inventory in a channel-agnostic manner for flexible use of inventory to fulfill online and in-store demand effectively1. To achieve this level of flexibility, retailers need a system that offers rules-based order orchestration leveraging AI and real-time omnichannel inventory data to proactively address constraints and profitably fulfill orders on time and in full.
At Microsoft, we are at the forefront of these efforts, investing in solutions like Microsoft Dynamics 365 Intelligent Order Management that help retailers reimagine the future of global supply chains and turn order fulfillment into a competitive advantage.
Predict risk and enhance visibility with AI-powered insights
According to Gartner, 76 percent of supply chain executives indicated that compared to three years ago, their company today faces more frequent disruptions in their supply chain. Meanwhile, another 72 percent reported that the impact of disruptive events has increased.2
Retailers have made significant strides in 2021 to create resiliency in their supply chains but the response has still been very reactive in nature. Slow digitization of the supply chain continues to inhibit organizations from proactively planning for changing customer demand and supply challenges. With an increase in e-commerce, it is imperative to gain real-time visibility into inventory at every node of the supply chain, all the way from the manufacturer to shipping ports to distribution centers to stores and finally to the consumer. Brands gain affinity when they consistently deliver on their order promise to their customers.
With this need for increased visibility and consistency in mind, we recently launched Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Insights in preview that enables organizations to predict risks in their supply chain based on news, weather, geo-political events, etc., and enables them to make better supply chain decisions with proactive risk mitigation via prescriptive insights powered by AI.
With Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Insights, retailers and consumer goods companies can create a digital representation of their physical supply chain. This enables them to simulate different scenarios at different nodes along the value chain and make well-informed decisions to mitigate any disruption. They can further gain visibility into the supply chains of their multiple tiers of suppliers, and improve the effectiveness of their demand and supply planning to ensure a delightful customer experience.
We also made significant enhancements to the Inventory Visibility add-in for Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management. Retailers can now get near real-time inventory visibility across all their internal channels and disparate third-party supply chain systems in a single place. Adding multiple systems in a scalable manner allows them to add new third-party integrations as they grow their supplier network or acquire new businesses. The enhanced visibility enables businesses to proactively mitigate any out-of-stock situations. Furthermore, they can perform soft reservations based on omnichannel sales demand so that they do not incorrectly commit to a customer.
Retailers can further leverage enhanced planning capabilities to enable near real-time inventory planning by prioritizing certain orders over others with ease. For example, they can prioritize orders for products that are low on stock versus the ones that are not. Lastly, retailers can optimize and streamline back-of-house operations like receiving and replenishment using the Warehouse Management mobile app. The mobile app empowers distribution centers, warehouses, and brick-and-mortar locations to make inventory decisions like transferring goods from one location to another simply by scanning the items. By running critical warehouse operations on Edge, retailers can ensure business continuity across all locations despite latency or network issues at HQ.
All the supply chain solutions from Dynamics 365 are not only interoperable with each other but also seamlessly work with other third-party ERP, commerce, and supply chain systems.
(Content Source: Microsoft Blogs)
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