The empty shelf. The delayed delivery. The “I’m sorry, we’re out of stock on that item.” Grrr! As consumers, we all appreciate the frustration these moments cause.  Ever looked at a wrapped pallet on a high shelf in a retail store and thought “Can’t I just climb up and take one?  I just need one!” (Seriously, it isn’t safe. I’m not recommending anyone actually climb up the shelving.) We are accustomed to the single shopping experience: I must be able to grab the item off a shelf or display and carry it to checkout, or I can’t have it.

The frustration no different when we’re awaiting a delayed truck at a loading dock, or a traffic jam at the seaport. You’re awaiting a shipment from a manufacturer or elsewhere up the chain, and it’s late. You have orders to fill! You have down-chain customers who will blame you, even while it isn’t your business’s fault for the delay. Your customer satisfaction suffers, just as the retailer’s does when the store display is empty.

The Endless Aisle concept makes so much sense, and with the digital convergence of supply chain systems, will only become a more powerful tool. The idea of being able to drop-ship an item from any number of points along the supply chain is the supplier-side of omnichannel truly coming to fruition.  Picture it: You approach a store associate regarding the empty space on the shelf, or the absence of an item in your size, flavor – whatever.  With connectivity and visibility across enterprise systems, that associate becomes empowered to be a hero for their employer: “I can see we have a shipment arriving at our regional DC later today. Let me have one routed right to your address once it hits the DC’s loading dock.  You’ll have it in two days.  Will that work for you?”  The store associate just became a customer satisfaction superhero.  

Consider the representatives at your vendors having that same capability. Suddenly, a pallet moves directly off the container at the port, and is put on a truck to your facility, while the shipping paperwork and tracking follows your traditional supply chain route. Everyone has visibility into where your goods are, and that they’ve been drop-shipped to your facility.  Everyone’s accounting is updated and accurate, and a truck pulls into your loading dock a couple of days earlier – reducing or completely eliminating the delivery delay you were concerned about. Supply Chain hero!

Endless aisle means ensuring workers throughout the supply chain have the right tools available to them, so they can react and work real time.  For workers in warehouses and retail stores, mobility enables that agility. Mobile connectivity to your enterprise systems plugs them in to the tasks that tell them to pick, re-route, or direct ship on a real time request. Their actions confirm and update your systems, ensuring data accuracy.  

Visiting RetailEXPO (formerly RBTE) in London, UK, 1-2 May? Come check out how Ivanti equips supply chain mobile workers for endless aisle agility. We’ll have some exciting one-to-one product demonstrations available, so pop by our stand 5D10 to see how Velocity, our Rapid Modernization tool and Speakeasy, our tool for warehouse voice picking work in action! Our local supply chain guru, Chris Tozer, Territory Manager for UK, Ireland and Italy, will also be on hand to answer any questions you might have as well as chat about some key supply chain trends.  See you there!