May 19, 2020

Three questions retailers should ask ahead of Black Friday

Supply Chain
Christmas
Black Friday
Retail
Niklas Hedin
2 min
Three questions retailers should ask ahead of Black Friday

Many retailers were unable to meet their delivery promises to customers during Black Friday and Christmas last year, in the process paying over the odds for extra carrier capacity at short notice. One year on, the retail industry is claiming to have learned its lessons, but with promotions on the way and carriers such as Yodel recruiting more new drivers, the test is just around the corner. Here are three questions retailers should ask themselves to see if they are ready to cope.

Firstly, have I properly built out my delivery networks, with realistic contingency plans? Consumers will demand a variety of goods and all expect swift delivery over the same short time period, putting delivery networks under increasing strain. Retailers can only ramp up activity in line with increased demand if they have the ability to work with a variety of carriers simultaneously at short notice.

Secondly, am I keeping my customer promises? Complete visibility over delivery networks and lead times is now essential to ensure that orders are being fulfilled in line with the promise to the customer. Customer memories extend beyond Black Friday and a poor delivery experience has the potential to damage the customer relationship and stop them shopping with you again in future.

Finally, am I treating product returns as a revenue generator? Many items bought during Black Friday and Christmas will be returned as the result of impulse purchasing and supply chains must be geared up to handle reverse logistics effectively. Rather than being an afterthought, returns should form part of a ‘full circle’ customer experience that encourages and rewards loyalty.

Niklas Hedin is CEO of Centiro

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Jun 16, 2021

SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data

SAS
British Army
3 min
Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM, explains the important role that SAS is playing in the British Army’s digital transformation

SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation. 

“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.

In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”

Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.

Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”

SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”

With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.

“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”

Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.

“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”

 

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