Bamboo Rose Blog | Industry Insights

Retail Insider Insights: Overcoming Supply Chain Hurdles with Mercedes Pratt, Sr. Director of Operations at Tailored Brands

In today’s ever-changing retail landscape, businesses are constantly challenged to adapt and innovate to meet the needs of customers and the industry‌ at large. 


In a recent community event centered around findings from our supply chain and sourcing research study conducted in collaboration with The Interline, Mercedes Pratt joined Bamboo Rose leaders Jen Schiffman, CMO, and Jeff Fedor, CPO, to share her perspectives on key supply chain hurdles, imperatives, and opportunities facing retailers today.

 

As the Sr. Director of Operations at Tailored Brands, Mercedes brings a wealth of experience and insight across a range of topics related to apparel sourcing and supply chain. Mercedes shared that one of the primary challenges facing retail operations is the lack of data visibility.

The Retail Uncorked discussion covered 4 focus areas:

 

  • Challenges in Supply Chain & Sourcing Management
  • Core Retailer Imperatives: Profitability & Business Continuity
  • The Need for Technology Adoption 
  • Adapting to Changing Consumer Behavior

1. Challenges in Supply Chain & Sourcing Management

 

According to our research, 67% of the research respondents found it difficult to access key supply chain metrics, indicating the widespread nature of this challenge for retailers and brands. 

 

Moreover, manual processes continue to pose significant challenges in supply chain and sourcing management. Mercedes said, “We’re being forced to do more with less of everything – less resources, less systems, less people.”

This reliance on outdated manual processes, such as spreadsheets and emails, hampers efficiency and agility in retail operations. The research supports this observation, revealing that 55% of respondents are still using manual methods to manage their sourcing and supply chain processes.

In the supply chain, visibility has become increasingly important, particularly after the pandemic, as traceability and production schedules have become crucial. Mercedes highlighted the growing need for information to be readily available and accurate for varying stakeholders.

 

2. Core Retailer Imperatives: Profitability & Business Continuity

 

Profitability and business continuity emerged as primary imperatives for retailers and brands, as highlighted in the research findings. Mercedes expanded on the concept of profitability, stressing its multifaceted nature and the importance of collaboration among internal teams, including visual and marketing departments, to achieve sustained profitability and business continuity.


Furthermore, effective communication with suppliers and the adoption of technology are essential in driving profitability and ensuring business continuity. Mercedes identifies numerous opportunities, particularly in leveraging technology to address supply chain challenges effectively. More on that below.

Dive into the future of retail supply chains & sourcing strategies with insights from industry leader Mercedes Pratt, Sr. Director of Operations at Tailored Brands, in the “Retail Uncorked” event recording.

3. The Need for Technology Adoption 

 

While technology adoption remains a significant issue for retailers, Mercedes shed some light: “We’ve walked away from the idea of having this very broad spread out sourcing strategy to being very refined – building relationships with key suppliers and refining our approach is really paying off.” This shift towards a more focused sourcing strategy aligns with the broader trend of integrating digital technology into all aspects of retail operations.


According to our research, tech adoption is neutral, with many finding their tech stack still lacking in some areas. However,
AI is seen as a potential solution by 65% of respondents, indicating a growing awareness of its ability to drive automation and transformation in retail operations. 

 

Mercedes weighed in on the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) to drive transformative change in retail sourcing and supply chain management. “There’s so much smart learning happening right now in AI, there’s no reason why half of [product development] information can’t be predetermined.” By leveraging AI and other advanced technologies, retailers can streamline processes, enhance data visibility, and improve decision-making capabilities.

Read more about AI in our 2024 tech trends report.

 

4. Adapting to Changing Consumer Behavior


In addition to addressing internal challenges, retailers and brands must also adapt to changing consumer behavior. Mercedes emphasized, “I think the consumer is changing. How they shop, where they shop, how frequently they shop. So when we think about profitability, it’s beyond product.” This awareness of shifting consumer preferences underscores the importance of agility and innovation in retail operations. It’s all about getting the right product at the right time via the right channels. 

 

These insights shed light on the multifaceted challenges and opportunities facing retailers in today’s dynamic market environment. By prioritizing data visibility, embracing technology, communicating with suppliers, and adapting to changing consumer behavior, retailers can navigate the evolving retail landscape and drive sustainable growth in the years to come.

Related links:
Watch the Retail Uncorked session
Join our next virtual community event on April 11th
Read the research report
Schedule a meeting with us