Great News in Canadian Retail Just Keeps on Coming!

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Over the past year, like many others working within the Retail Industry in Canada, I’ve grown tired of hearing about all the bad news relative to retailers pulling out, closing down or shrinking their store counts here in Canada.

Other than one major ‘faux pas’ by a discount retailer which doesn’t need to be named yet again, the majority of recent store closures have actually been retailers dealing with unprofitable stores in their chain. And although painful for the individuals and areas where these actions happen, these steps are often necessary to keep the overall chain healthy in the long term.

The great news, and what we should be focusing on instead of the ‘doom and gloom’ of negative reports, is the growing number of new retail entries into Canada and the ongoing industry extensions taking place over the last year. Continue reading…

Early ‘Internet of Things’ Pilots Proved Supply Chain Benefits of RFID Pallets

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Two early pilots were facilitated by Supply Chain Network and carried out in 2003 and 2006 with both representing successful demonstrations of the potential supply chain benefits available through ‘Internet of Things’ implementations.

Key to both of these pilots were RFID enabled pallets and the first project was the SCN Grocery Pilot which was carried out utilizing RFID at the pallet level for automated Distribution Centre (DC) receiving.

For the second pilot in the Office Products Industry, a combination of both pallet level and case level RFID was utilized to deliver significant results for both automated Distribution Centre Receiving and automated Direct to Store Delivery receiving. Continue reading…

Reaching the Supply Chain Sustainability Tipping Point

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Since the 1990’s I’ve been writing about sustainability, cap & trade and carbon footprints mainly in the realm of logistics and supply chain as that’s where I live.

Supply chains are incredibly important in this context as roughly 75% of most company’s carbon footprint emanates from their supply chain.

My mantra throughout this time has been ‘when not if’ these measures will be enacted and today I have to say we’re rapidly approaching the tipping point for supply chain sustainability. Continue reading…

Seven Signs Your Retail Business Needs an Omni-channel Makeover

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Are your retail customers finding you less attractive lately? Consider your position on the seven signs shared below and you may decide your retail business needs an omni-channel makeover!

This is not just an idle suggestion we’re making as the omni-channel retail buzz is quickly becoming a roar and with good reason.

Not since the advent of price tags, cash registers and the ubiquitous apparel hanger has there been a retail industry innovation poised to create such major change. Continue reading…

Entering Era of the Endless Store

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Those in the know in online retail have been leveraging dropship vendors to create expanded ‘endless aisle’ assortments for a number of years now.

Through the ongoing development of the Matrix Retail approach it’s now become apparent a new reality is emerging best described simply as the ‘Endless Store.’

Just as an ‘endless aisle’ expands assortments well beyond the current store and retailer stocked web assortments, creating the ‘Endless Store’ connects and extends the bricks & mortar and virtual environments within which retailers operate. The potential for dramatically improved customer service and functional development of a unified retail customer experience is now within reach of every retailer. Continue reading…

Exploring the Eight Layers of Matrix Retail

The age of Matrix Retail is already upon us and the only question to ask is will you acknowledge, understand, embrace, engage and tune all of the components of your company’s presence in the retail eco-system?

Or, will you choose to simply ignore them, continue in discrete multi-channel / abomni-channel mode and watch your competitors employ Matrix Retail methods to delight your customers, then dominate, devastate and ultimately destroy your business?

On a more positive note, we hope you opt for the former as the concept of Matrix Retail aims to help you bring about a state of zen awesomeness and retail customer joy as your business prepares to accelerate and break the e-commerce sound barrier.

Depicting something as pervasive and all encompassing as today’s real world digitally enabled retail environment is a tall order (especially for a graphically challenged logistics dude) but the above is my best representation to date of the eight layers of Matrix Retail which need to be enabled, interconnected and then tuned to fully deliver what I call ‘the logistics of customer experience‘. Continue reading…

Matrix Retail: The Logistics of Customer Experience

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At a previous NRF Shop.org Summit I saw a keynote address by Jamie Nordstrom on trends he saw coming in the online retail business. During his talk Jamie said there was a new dynamic emerging, people were describing using words like multi-channel and omni-channel. However in his view these words were not fully capturing the changes he saw coming in retail and a new word was needed, ‘maybe polychannel or something like that’.

After the presentation I had a quick meet and greet with Jamie in which I told him how much his presentation had resonated with me based on my past senior department store retail experience at Hudson’s Bay Company. I then said to him that I think I know the word he was looking for to describe the new dynamic and that was Matrix Commerce. His reaction was immediate and visceral ‘Yes, that’s it! Have you trademarked it?’ Continue reading…

Breaking the E-Commerce Sound Barrier with Matrix Retail!

BOOM!

What was that noise?

Someone just broke the e-commerce sound barrier!

In the third quarter of 2014 Williams-Sonoma’s e-commerce sales represented 51.5% ($587 million) of total company sales overtaking their store sales ($566 million) for the first time!

Even more importantly this increase is not due to offsetting reductions in store sales with the $566 million in store sales representing an increase of 4.8% year over year for the quarter. Continue reading…

Could a New Pallet Be the Starting Point for More Sustainable Supply Chains?

A bold statement perhaps, but one borne out of long standing frustration with the slow if not stagnant forward movement towards implementing more sustainable supply chains.

In 1985 I established my first retail store cardboard recycling initiative which not only was good for the environment, but was also a financially lucrative initiative saving the Hudson’s Bay Company $100’s of thousands of dollars annually at that time.

However as more companies came on board such programs, the savings component disappearred; as in the case of cardboard, widespread recycling drove the amount recyclers would pay into the ground due to the resulting oversupply of cardboard.

Fortunately when it comes to the potential for new sustainability initiatives such as lighter composite pallets versus wood pallets and the associated carbon credits, we are only in the early days of such programs and the ability to both monetize both potential savings opportunities while at the same time reducing your company’s carbon footprint is now. Continue reading…

Expect MORE from Your Third Party Logistics Provider!

Contrary to what many procurement professionals may think, all third party logistics providers are not created equal.

And as retailers are pulled further and faster into the omni-channel future the need for advanced third party logistics providers will only continue to increase.

The very nature of omni-channel means getting closer to the customer and when it comes to logistics this couldn’t be more true.

Products will actually need to be deployed closer to the end consumer in order to deliver rapidly and meet customer needs whether to the home, store, office, lockerbox or pick up centre.

Individual retailers and e-tailers will find themselves challenged to put such a network in place, and even those who attempt to do so will find they don’t have enough volume in regional centres to justify the automated fulfillment systems required to most rapidly and cost effectively pick, pack and ship both customer and store orders. Continue reading…