IBM: Retailers rethink supply chain priorities in face of COVID-19

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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supply chain

Retailers and wholesalers are making their supply chains more flexible and transparent in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

Recent data from the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) reveals that 52% of retailers and wholesalers are reducing operational costs to offset disruption caused by COVID-19. Forty-eight percent are transitioning to a more secure/resilient infrastructure, while 47% are deploying mobile payment, 45% are creating more robust digital selling platforms and 44% are providing devices to enable remote work.

In addition to leveraging technology and strategy to mitigate the current impact of the pandemic, retailers and wholesalers are also building capabilities for the “new normal” future. IBV data highlights leading proficiencies these companies are developing in several key enterprise areas:

Supply Chain

  • Building agility to adapt faster to changes in consumer demand (58%)
  • Introducing order and inventory visibility across distribution channels (55%)
  • Localizing assortment/merchandising to be more adaptive to needs of local markets (40%)

Consumer Experience

  • Improving safety in the workplace to minimize disruption (74%)
  • Expanding contactless programs to checkout, pickup, etc. (52%)
  • Expanding tools for store associates to improve productivity and better serve customers (47%)

Innovation and Technology

  • Investing in analytics to improve speed and quality of decision making (52%)
  • Rapidly testing, learning, and scaling new ideas (49%)
  • Building intelligent workflow and automation across product development and supply chain (49%)


  • Introducing new processes to ensure workplace and store safety (81%)
  • Establishing new procedures to minimize disruption (61%)
  • Accelerating modernization initiatives to increase agility (50%)