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About the Author

Gary Barraco

Industry Development

Amber Road (formerly ecVision)


Gary is responsible for North American sales operations for Amber Road’s Sourcing and Collaborative Supply Chain Solutions product line. He also works closely with industry-focused organizations and cross-functional service providers to establish relationships that enhance Amber Road’s solutions to benefit its customers.  Previously, Gary held marketing and sales positions with technology-focused companies where he was instrumental in implementing programs that yielded exponential growth and spearheaded alliance relationships with global software firms positioning these organizations for success.

He has 20 years of active military service where his primary specialty was providing marketing support to Army National Guard recruiting and retention operations in New Jersey. Gary received a BS from the State University of New York.

Supply Chain Comment

By Gary Barraco, Industry Development, Amber Road (formerly ecVision)

March 19, 2015

Take Control of Your Retail Supply Chain

Ways That Companies in the Retail Sector can Improve Efficiencies, Lower Costs, Increase Agility and Lower Supply Chain Risks

The retail sector today faces a range of problems. Many companies suffer from insufficient and/or manually intensive global trade compliance processes; lack of visibility into and responsiveness of their global supply chains; speed to market pressures; high, volatile raw materials prices; and immature and inefficient omni-channel fulfillment processes.

Below are some ways companies in the retail sector can improve efficiencies, lower costs, increase agility and lower supply chain risks.

Barraco Says:

Best-in-class retail companies are more successful in managing their supply chains by applying an integrated view...
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1. Develop an end-to-end global trade platform and program

Manual processes leave retailers ill-equipped to handle the complexity of buying or selling goods globally. A single, on-demand platform allows companies to automate, and therefore more easily execute, all aspects of global trade. By enabling retailers to take a holistic, integrated approach to global trade, companies are able to accelerate the movement of goods across international borders, improve customer service and reduce global supply chain costs. This platform should be fueled by global trade content to provide the highest levels of automation and accuracy. Such content should include items such as harmonized tariff schedules, standard and preferential duty rates, regulatory controls, restricted party lists and quotas.

2. Utilize visibility tools to mitigate supply chain disruptions

Without a big picture view of one’s supply chain it is nearly impossible to implement cost-saving strategies, such as just-in-time inventory replenishment. Visibility tools connect a retailer’s trading partner network with their overseas suppliers, logistics providers, brokers, carriers and customers to ensure complete tracking and monitoring of the movement of goods. The benefits of a visibility solution include: increased supplier order fill rates and order accuracy; lower safety stock inventory levels; shortened inbound supply lead times and order cycle times; reduced stock-outs and late customer orders; increased inbound supply predictability; improved exception management and proactive resolution; reduced purchasing and order expediting costs; and reduced manually intensive processes.

3. Reduce risk and improve quality controls by connecting via the cloud to suppliers and partners

In order to produce reliable, high-quality products that loyal consumers expect, manufacturers, retailers, importers and distributors must proactively evaluate a product’s components to ensure they are producing regulation-compliant goods. Without a proactive approach, retailers face lost revenue, short-term crisis mode costs, and long-term capability-building costs. Collaborating with suppliers via a cloud-based technology enables retailers to avoid costly fines, delays in production and shipping, or lawsuits from customers. Specifically, retailers can: consolidate information about product testing and factory compliance; collaborate with external parties (suppliers and 3rd party testing companies) for test execution and monitoring; streamline communications; generate reports to monitor the processes, demonstrate due diligence and traceability; and have real-time data management and decision support capabilities to control risk.

4. Take control of the supply chain at its source: raw materials

This year, raw material costs remain the leading economic concern in the industry over wage rates and logistics issues. For instance, since 2009 cotton has become a declining commodity, inflating costs and creating issues for the global market. Sourcing leaders can mitigate supply chain risks by increasing visibility of raw materials; improving demand forecast analysis of raw materials; and achieving a clearer understanding of a supplier’s production capacity.  When companies effectively collaborate with the raw material suppliers at the start of a product lifecycle, both retailers and manufacturers can cut costs and gain competitive advantage.

5. Use automation to lower trade compliance risks

With more customers spread across more geographies, import and export compliance challenges have mushroomed, along with the risk of regulatory violations. Performing compliance checks manually can be overwhelming. Automating the screening of potential customers against restricted party lists, determining license requirements, performing import/export compliance checks, and generating international trade documents provides critical information for decision-makers, allowing them to adopt best-practice trade processes on a global level. There are many benefits to automating trade compliance operations: complete visibility into the import/export process; proactive management of import/export activities; reduced cycle times; improved regulatory data accuracy and reduced errors; improved landed cost accuracy; and improved adherence to compliance regulations.

6. Adopt a control tower approach towards omni-fulfillment

The impact of today’s “order from anywhere - fulfill from anywhere” environment requires a more integrated, holistic strategy across channel owners, merchandising, store operations and distribution operations, among others. A control tower is a single command center for visibility, decision-making and action, based on real-time data. It goes beyond visibility to providing an integrated approach towards fulfillment operations, whether it is a retail store, catalog or e-commerce store front supply chain operation. A control tower approach gives retailers the flexibility to adapt to quickly changing market environments and speed goods to market.

Final Thoughts

Today’s retailers must transform their supply chain and global trade management strategies to gain more control over their global supply chain processes and reduce total landed costs. Best-in-class retail companies are more successful in managing their supply chains by applying an integrated view and as a result, these companies are able to have more flexible, responsive and financially stable supply chains.

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