Replenishment challenges & supply chain flexibility

Replenishment challenges and supply chain flexibility. With reports that major fashion retailers are now struggling to compete in key market and reports of a sudden surge in footfall for Mother’s day, this week has given supply chain bloggers, Sam Phipps & Jessie Cooper, plenty to think about!

Flexibility: The perfect fit for fashion supply chains

Given the rapid rate at which both customer expectations and shopping behaviour has evolved in recent times, new reports have suggested that even some of the world’s biggest fashion brands are now struggling to compete in key European markets as well as in the USA.

The supply chain flexibility of online retailers is a major competitive challenge. The growing popularity of budget fashion outlets has put pressure on the prices of major high street stores.

With production based closer to their core markets, it seems online retailers have benefited from being able to turn over more new styles each year: quickly boosting suppliers for the bestselling items where required. In contrast, retailers with cheaper suppliers based in the Far Eastern face are of often stifled by lengthy lead times and rigid order quantities.

Considering the importance that the supply chain has on competitiveness, what can the major retailers do to maintain their position in the market?

The mother of all replenishment challenges

According to, in the seven days leading up to Mother’s Day (March 26th), footfall jumped by an impressive 3.4% compared to the previous week. London-based retailers saw the strongest growth in the footfall with shoppers up by 7.2%. Retail parks across the country enjoyed a healthy 6.6% increase compared to the previous week.

While this movement was no doubt welcomed by retailers, it’s worth bearing in mind that only last month, reports indicated a 13-year slump in footfall: What a difference 4 weeks makes! Yet for retailers, such variation are the stuff of nightmares, especially for those responsible for keeping stores stocked.

No retailer wants to disappoint customers. But equally, holding extra levels of inventory, particularly of items with short shelf lives, can prove very costly. It’s vital that inventory levels are in-line with customer demand.

What steps can retailers take to ensure their replenishment processes factor in the impact of changing footfall as well as special events?

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