Global pandemics, uncontrollable wildfires, natural disasters, geopolitical disruptions… the events of the last several years have shown us that uncertainty is the only certainty that exists in the modern world.

Smart retailers must be prepared to not only survive but thrive in the next disruption because disruption will inevitably occur; it’s just not clear how or when. Understanding the ABCs of data collection, management, and analysis is critical to helping today’s retail enterprise stay resilient during the most challenging times.

A is for Anticipation

As the world adjusts to the “new normal,” it’s clear that knowing what we know today, it’s impossible to simply return to business as usual. Global supply chain disruptions alone have taught us the consequences of failing to correctly anticipate upcoming events.

According to the White House, retailers in February 2020 had 43 days of inventory while today that number has dropped to 33 days. Inventories of cars and homes are also at or near record lows as compared to pre-pandemic levels. “These low inventories have caused cascading issues in industrial supply chains,” the article reports. In the latest U.S. Census Small Business Pulse survey, which was held from May 31 to June 6, 36 per cent of small businesses reported delays with domestic suppliers, with delays concentrated in manufacturing, construction, and trade sectors.

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The smartest brands have already responded by implementing a stronger digital ecosystem that includes technology such as cargo and container tracking, auto fulfilment, drone delivery solutions, and artificial intelligence that can reveal supply chain data earlier, providing more time to pivot and respond.

Having the right data collected and accessible through natural language queries can help retailers anticipate potential disruptions as well as map a course of action to not only survive but succeed.

B is for Back-Up

Back-up and redundancies are the basics for business continuity in the midst of a disaster. However, retailers who want to thrive through disruptions must elevate that back-up preparation to a higher level. They must envision ways to not only simply stay in business but capitalize on the opportunities that arise as a result.

For instance, a west coast retailer without a digital ecosystem may only be able to reduce store hours and ship inventory back to a central warehouse as wildfires approach the area. However, that same retailer, armed with Hypersonix’s data-powered AI solution, could easily optimize its internal supply chain.

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Extra inventory would be immediately visible to sister stores, which could then immediately create new pricing, promotion, and merchandising plans for that week and in those locations. Excess products are then shipped directly to these nearby stores, reducing carbon emissions from unnecessary transportation of goods, and extra goods boost revenue for recipient stores.

In the meantime, the location in trouble repackages current items such as water bottles, ready-to-eat food items, portable fire extinguishers, and first-aid supplies into convenient emergency kits that can be sold in a drive-through channel as residents begin to evacuate the area. This data-driven action not only serves the retailer’s surrounding community in crisis but liquidates inventory and boosts revenue at the same time.

C is for Connectivity

The connectivity illustrated in the retailer wildfire example is critical to retailer resilience. Having the right data at the right time in the right location requires a new level of connectivity. Retailers can not thrive in an environment where data is only shared at monthly or quarterly intervals, limited to a single store location, or fails to take into account external factors such as competitor behavior, weather, community events, and unpredictable occurrences.

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Instead, real-time data must be collected and aggregated from all these sources in an intelligent manner and then must be made available to decision-makers in response to natural language queries – not in complicated, lengthy, outdated reports or dashboards.

Retail management or store associates must be able to simply ask a virtual assistant, “What do I do in such-and-such situation?” and then be able to tap into a vast repository of existing location-specific and relevant third-party data to reveal the best solution available in the moment.

D is for Defy

Success for tomorrow’s retailers will revolve around defying the odds of cataclysmic events such as global pandemics, natural disasters, geopolitical events, and other unpredictable occurrences.

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In order to boost resilience in these unpredictable and trying times, retailers must have a sophisticated enterprise AI platform that helps drive profitability through real-time, intelligent, relevant data and natural language access to that data. Building that foundation now, in the calm between the storms, will help retailers not only weather the next event, but succeed to new levels.

To learn more about how to implement the ABCs of resilient retail, reach out to Hypersonix. Hypersonix is the leading AI-driven Actionable Intelligence Platform for Commerce. The company’s operational intelligence infrastructure for commerce enables decision-makers with rapid visibility, predictive insights, and suggestive actions—leading to actionable decisions and increased business agility.