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Exclusive: Getting Smart About Supply Chain Efficiency


When it comes to keeping supply chain and logistics operations as efficient as possible, retailers are getting smart. Using centralized cloud platforms and business intelligence solutions, merchants can achieve real-time inventory awareness and supply chain operational data that improves overall front- and back-end performance.

Here are three examples:


Gap Inc. is supporting front-end omnichannel retail operations of its namesake stores with back-end seamless inventory capabilities. Using a “seamless inventory” model supported by technology from GT Nexus, the San Francisco-based retailer focuses on having the right products at the right time for the right channel.

Global sourcing and logistics capabilities have allowed Gap to build innovative features like a “reserve in store” option on its e-commerce site. This allows customers to hold in store any items they see on Gap’s site so they may go to store and try on the clothes before deciding to make a final purchase.

Gap also recently deployed GT Nexus to enable package-level tracking of parcel cartons and provide feeds to recognize inventory as it is received at stores.

“An efficient and progressive supply chain is essential to profitable retail execution, and visibility is at the core of our global supply chain operations here at Gap Inc.,” said Shawn Curran, senior VP of global logistics for Gap Inc.


German discount grocer Lidl is applying business intelligence technology to its planned expansion into the United States market. Lidl, which operates nearly 10,000 stores and 130 distribution centers across 26 countries, will use solutions based on the SAP HANA business intelligence platform to support its IT strategy, including supply chain and logistics, for entering the U.S. market.

Currently, Lidl is using the platform and business warehouse technology powered by HANA, as well as SAP customer activity repository applications, to help simplify and centralize its IT infrastructure.

The solution provides Lidl with a single platform to run essential applications that optimize and automate core merchandising, logistics and in-store processes. The in-memory technology behind SAP HANA can process large amounts of data in real time. Targeting the right markets and servicing customers with relevant assortments in all channels requires Lidl to systematically analyze data to better understand and react to customer behavior.

With SAP’s customer activity repository tool, Lidl is able to provide its business departments information on all customer interactions and current stock levels.

Pep Boys

The Pep Boys — Manny, Moe & Jack is shifting its inventory management efforts into high gear. The Philadelphia-based auto parts and service retailer is deploying 4R Systems Inc.’s retail inventory solution across its 800-plus stores in 35 states and Puerto Rico.

Pep Boys holds 16 million SKUs on replenishment, and 4R's scientific algorithm matches supply with demand for each SKU throughout the entire omnichannel supply chain. The retailer's inventory includes products with slow turns and others, like tires, that turn quickly and have demand substitutability. These variables add to the complexity of having the right inventory levels in each store without the risk of overstocking out-of-stocks, resulting in lost sales.

4R's analytics and client support teams continually analyze Pep Boys’ assortments against the 4R scientific algorithm, to optimize both width and depth.

For all three retailers, real-time awareness of inventory serves as a foundational point for improved supply chain and logistics operations.

In addition, advanced business intelligence systems and centralized cloud infrastructures help these retailers extend the benefits of supply chain and logistical efficiency across the enterprise. That’s important because in an omnichannel age, supply chain and logistics are not “back end” functions, but critical elements of a holistic customer engagement strategy.

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