The Detail in Retail: Faster Decision Making Across the Supply Chain

As a retail business, your day to day operations will most likely contain conversations with a huge number of people, from different areas, and often in different sections of the supply chain. For all parts of the retail machine to be working in unison, communication has to be conducted via reliable channels and at the highest quality possible.


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At Videocall, we have long been discussing the power of video conferencing for bringing together teams within a single organisation, wherever they are located. However, the supply chain in the retail industry encapsulates several different organisations, countries, people, languages, time zones and cultures. If one part of this chain loses adequate communications with the other, efficiency begins to break down, which can lead to loss of profit further down the line.

This is where the strengths of cloud-based Video as a Service (VaaS) like Videocall’s ICE platform come into play. One of the most important aspects of ICE and VaaS in general is the concept of an always connected infrastructure, where collaboration takes place simply and at high quality regardless of location or device.

This blog is aimed at retailers looking to glean more efficiency from supply chain, by increasing the visibility of everyone working as part of it. Of course, every retail business has a different supply chain, with different interests, but the basis is the same: bringing a product to market quickly, safely, efficiently and fairly. We are going to follow an example product from its initial design conception to the shop floor, and show how video conferencing makes it possible. shirt-1435613_1280.jpg

From Plan to Purchase

The product we’ll be following is a new fashion item for a high street retailer. The item is a men’s shirt with a herringbone pattern. It was designed in the London by a guest designer, with the bulk of the manufacturing taking place in China, and the final destination is a high street in Manchester.

Our product was created by a designer based in London, who designed several drawings of the shirt with some fabric samples on the page. Rather than sending these drawings in the post, or wasting time and money travelling to Manchester from London, the manager of the fashion store was able to hold a video meeting with the designer. The store has a video conferencing solution in the form of a wall-mounted screen and a VaaS platform working behind it. The designer is able to share their images and annotate them in real-time, turning a lengthy postal back and forth into a collaborative meeting.

The manufacturing stage is often the part of the supply chain that can feel furthest away. In our example, the factory making the products is located in China, where a different time zone and working culture can often cause disruption. Once our retailer confirms the design, they can source the material and get started producing the shirt in mass quantities.

cloth-1237813_1280.jpgVideo conferencing allows communication with the manufacturer to become much clearer than it has previously been. Our retail company can virtually inspect the factory to ascertain things like working conditions, time to completion, and design issues or changes. Fabric can be inspected in HD quality from the Manchester-based office through video-enabled devices that suit them; a work-based laptop or smartphone for example.

The safe transport of our new product is imperative if is to reach shelves in the best condition for the customer. Outbound logistics – or physical distribution – can be enhanced and made simpler by using video to communicate with postal processing factories, couriers, and drivers. Retailers are able to ensure their product is on the road in a timely manner by holding immediate visual conversations. Any changes to the delivery time or location can be quickly ascertained and meetings can be scheduled after the delivery for follow up service reviews.

Shop Floor
Our completed product is now being delivered to the shop floor for a new display. The store manager was able to meet via video with the courier, who was able to attend the meeting from his smartphone in his truck. Head office has scheduled a video meeting to demonstrate the new display layout to the shop floor staff; staff working that day are able to attend from the on-site VC solution and, with Videocall’s ICE platform, the meeting was able to be recorded, meaning staff who did not join the live meeting can view the archived video at a later date.

Supply Chain Clarity

The importance of clarity throughout the supply chain cannot be underestimated. Ensuring a product is in front of the consumer in a timely fashion is the key to reaching them before a competitor does. With video, the answer is in front of you at any given moment. Problems with the design? An ad hoc video meeting can quickly rectify the problem. Is your manufacturer reporting a problem with the garment? Video enables the issue to be easily seen and an answer quickly given.

In short, the technology is now available to improve international supply chains through communication that works to the strengths of those using it. ICE, for example, is device and system agnostic, for greater ease, quality, and reliability.

Our new eBook goes further into VC and retail, looking at 7 ways it can enhance your business – download it here now.