AI: The secret to wholesale success with leaner times ahead?

AI: The secret to wholesale success with leaner times ahead?

With recent events having put huge economic pressure on the sector, Barry Grange, CEO of Retail Express, explains the opportunity that AI-driven merchandising solutions can bring to wholesalers

Recent macro-economic events have taken their toll on the sector, with disruption to supply chains as a result of Brexit and the double blow of the pandemic and Ukraine crisis bringing the threat of global stagflation a step closer. As the retail industry has had to restructure under the weight of enormous downward pressure, so too will wholesalers be looking for ways to work smarter, with a focus on protecting profitability and improving operational performance. This is where a greater reliance on data can help to increase visibility on profit and loss.

Intelligent merchandising: harnessing the power of AI and cloud

As the manual processes and legacy systems still widely used come under increasing strain, successful wholesalers will be those that look to technology to help them deploy effective margin-improvement strategies. As in so many other industries, it will be the technology, and in particular artificial intelligence, that will be instrumental in unlocking real-time insights and removing the burden associated with cumbersome, time-consuming methods of data interpretation and operations management. For most, these strategies will centre around digital marketing, supply chain optimisation and channel-mix management.

But to encourage volume buying at a time when retailers are expressing caution requires a more joined-up approach between wholesaler and retailer. This is where demand for AI-driven merchandising solutions is increasing, helping retail leaders stay ahead in an increasingly competitive marketplace, and wholesalers manage effective pricing and promotions based on business intelligence and insights derived from data hosted in the cloud. Historic sales data, combined with point of sale (POS) data, can now allow wholesalers to see first-hand what retailers are purchasing and when, making their stock-ordering requirements clearer.

A new dawn: Investing for the future

The centralisation of all data, processes and planning in the cloud provides ‘one version of the truth’ across the supply chain, accessible to all stakeholders. Supplier collaboration tools bring together wholesalers, retailers and vendors to negotiate deals, track funding and manage media and promotion, leveraging AI to capture deeper insights, more accurately anticipate demand and proactively deliver across every touchpoint. Investing in systems now will create competitive advantage, boosting revenue through a more detailed and data-driven approach to profitability.

Cutting-edge purpose-built merchandising software signals a new dawn for the wholesale and wider retail industry, and for those that choose to embrace it, cloud and AI will become powerful allies. With improved forecasting and planning, plus the ability to drive sales and oversee all aspects of supply chain management, intelligent merchandising software holds the key to ongoing success with leaner times ahead.

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