Key issues facing Supply Chain Professionals in 2015

Supply Chain 2014-2015Our retail team recently worked in association with Retail Week magazine to produce a report looking at the upcoming trends and innovations in retail. Supply chain and legal teams at some of the UK’s top retailers were interviewed to record a snapshot of what they consider to be the key issues and opportunities for the sector are. Over the coming weeks this blog series will bring you the highlights from the report, plus breaking news affecting the sector.

As published in Retail Week & DWF Supply Chain: Trends and Innovations in Retail 2014-15 report


Hopefully you caught our last blog post which included an infographic looking at the key opinions of supply chain professionals.

Keeping up with the pace of change in the retail sector is placed among the three main challenges facing supply chain teams by 60% of the 15 supply chain directors interviewed for our report.

40% of supply chain directors believe adapting their supply chain to meet omnichannel and multichannel demands is the most persistent priority their teams face.

The adaptation of supply chains to multi/omnichannel retailing reveals – and has itself partly precipitated – a greater customer focus within supply chain functions. As this director of logistics outlines: “The biggest priority is the customer. Everything we do, we do with the customer in mind. So when we look at sourcing and supply, we consider what it is that we are offering the customer, so whether it’s an initial buy or a repeat buy we make sure that we can produce that product to the right quality and deliver it to the customer in the time frame that we have promised. We make sure at the beginning of the supply chain that what we are building has the customer at the heart of it.”

Understanding and responding to consumer requirements regarding the immediacy, time precision or destination of deliveries is seen as crucial and he quality and flexibility of service companies can provide is expected to become an increasingly important element of commercial success.

Multichannel is also changing the way store delivery and inventory is managed. Many of the supply chain directors interviewed believe there is potential for bricks and mortar retailers to gain an advantage over pureplay online retailers by leveraging their estates more effectively and using their stores as warehouses.

Looking ahead, the retailers expect innovation in supply chain to be informed by the changing needs and preferences of customers, A third of the retailers identify either technology systems or data management as areas where innovation will happen, but almost as many cite retailer collaboration as an area where new thinking will be brought to bear.

In-house legal counsels are experiencing greater collaboration in their role as they work with numerous parties across the entire supply chain to ensure the smooth and lawful running of a retail business. From strictly policing data protection laws and controlling complex transport systems, to ensuring there are no blind spots in multiple supply chain networks that crisscross the world, they face a plethora of pressing challenges in today’s demanding multi-channel, cross-border retail landscape.

The rapid change seen in retail in recent years underlines the need for a flexible and adaptable supply chain model that can be shaped to a continuously changing retail environment and, most crucially, constantly evolving consumer preferences and requirements.

Watch out for our next blog post which will discuss the challenges and opportunities of supply chain development.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Hilary Ross Partner & Head of Retail, Food & Hospitality sector.

This information is intended as a general discussion surrounding the topics covered and is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. DWF is not responsible for any activity undertaken based on this information.

Want to know what some of the UK’s top retailers’ supply chain and legal teams think will be key innovations and issues in 2015?

Download our 'Supply chain - trends and innovation in retail 2014-2015' report – written in partnership with leading industry publication, Retail Week.

Download the full report now

Hilary Ross

Executive Partner (London) - Head of Retail, Food & Hospitality

Recognised by The Lawyer as one of the UK’s Top 100 lawyers, I advise clients on compliance and challenges across the EU in relation to products, systems and safety.

Dominic Watkins

Partner - Head of Food Group

I am Head of DWF’s internationally renowned food sector group as well as being Head of Regulatory in London.

Ed Meikle

Partner - Head of Retail Group

I advise on all aspects of intellectual property law, especially advising businesses in retail, food, sport and consumer products on the development, commercialisation and protection of their brands and technology.