Automation is top issue for UK retailers

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Automation of key processes is UK retailers’ top supply chain planning and execution issue, according to research by Martec International for Relex the supply chain IT specialist.

This is the second annual study and marks a shift in priorities. The top business issue this year is the automation of key processes (52 per cent) whereas last year’s key issue was increasing availability without increasing stockholding.

The study, ‘State of the Retail Supply Chain 2016’, asked retailers from the UK, North America, Germany and the Nordics with annual sales exceeding €100 million (£78 million) about the top issues affecting supply chain planning and execution, the challenges they face with forecasting, the visibility they have of their supply chain, whether they operate a single stock pool across all sales channels and how productive their staff are.

The top UK forecasting challenge is forecasting effectively across the supply chain (67 per cent). Last year, 72 per cent of UK retailers cited forecasting demand for new products as their key priority.

UK retailers rate the visibility of their supply chain the lowest of all regions surveyed, at 5.4 out of 10, compared to the global average of 6.2. This is also a lower score than last year, when the UK average was 6.4 out of 10.

Mikko Kärkkäinen, Relex group CEO, said: “It is interesting to note the progression in how UK retailers view their supply chain challenges, even in the last year alone. It would appear that, despite seeming slightly more pessimistic in overall outlook, UK retail is starting to look more holistically at the supply chain and recognising the key role that automation can play in addressing some of the more specific challenges.”

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