Study: Supply chain management key to surviving recession

Washington, D.C. Supply chain management (SCM) is one of the key drivers responsible for retailers surviving one of the worst recessions in history, industry experts stated today.

Released by Auburn University in partnership with Retail Industry Leaders Association, the study brought together the leading retailers from North America to examine the year’s current trends, leading practices and the foremost issues affecting the strategy and planning of retail supply chains. This year’s study took a closer look into the results of 2009 and captured new insights from SCM executives in 2010.

During a tele-press conference to discuss the 2010 “State of the Retail Supply Chain Study, industry experts Dave Reiff, senior VP national distribution for Wal-Mart Stores, Casey Chroust, RILA executive VP retail operations, and Brian J. Gibson, Ph.D. and professor at Auburn University examined the critical value of careful supply chain management during both economic hard times and as retailers shift their focus toward recovery.

"Thanks to cost reduction initiatives introduced by supply chain management executives, retailers were able to tap into existing opportunities to streamline their supply chains, lowering their bottom line costs and saving billions across the industry," said RILA’s Chroust. “Moving forward these cost structure enhancements and efficiencies will enable retailers to thrive as the economy becomes healthy again.”

The study revealed that efforts to reduce the bottom line costs while the recession held top-line growth in check has also led to a growing importance of SCM throughout the retail organization and has gained C-suite recognition. The influence of SCM continues to expand up and downstream within the organization, to merchandising and store operations functions.

Looking ahead, the study also cited several key issues that should be on the radar of SCM executives moving forward, including sustainability, fluctuating fuel costs, new government regulations, streamlining multichannel supply chain operations and utilizing the latest technological advancements.