Retailers differentiating with supply chain management

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10/06/2009
Wanted to point out a cool white paper released today by the Retail Industry Leaders Association and Auburn University, focusing on supply chain management. Find it here, but beware the immediate pdf download (why this new trend toward pdf downloads, I'm not sure). The conclusion the paper reaches is this (SCM stands for supply chain management):
As the retail industry seeks to weather the storm of bad news regarding the global economy and weak consumer spending, CEOs and directors are counting on SCM to sustain profitability. Though revenues are stagnant in many retail organizations, costs are viewed as controllable. In particular, the expenses falling under the control of SCM executives are receiving strong attention from the top of the organization. SCM executives now find themselves in the spotlight and must perform their brand of magic to save the show. They must pull multiple rabbits out of the hat, cutting inventory levels while maintaining high in-stock availability, reducing transportation expenses in a time of unprecedented fuel price volatility, and building consensus when others seek to protect their silos and turf. Certainly, it is nearly impossible to perform these “tricks” without extensive preparation and precise execution.
How can "security" help these SCM executives look like magicians? Security is not even mentioned in the paper, which makes me think there's an opportunity there. For example, the paper notes this about RFID:
[N]ewer initiatives have not had as great an impact on performance. It will take time for retailers to fully harness the potential of sustainability efforts and RFID technology.
So, it would seem that Lojack's recent partnership with NC4 makes a lot of sense. If constant awareness and protection of the supply chain can evince tangible savings, this white paper makes it clear that SCM types are going to be all over it like white on rice. But it's also going to take an education effort. It's clear that SCM executives are not focusing on security, or technology in general, to solve problems and create efficiencies. As with the capabilities of security systems as a whole, often the end users are thinking of the solution because they don't know it exists. Make sure they know it exists.