The demands of an evolving market continue to weigh heavy on retailers. From the rise of international ecommerce to political uncertainty affecting both consumer behaviour and supply chain economics, brands are in a constant state of flux. More than ever, supply chains are at the mercy of disruption from multiple components, including raw material shortages and ongoing tariff wars. To continue to protect brand reputation and profitability, retailers now need to factor an increasing amount of risk into their supply chain management.

While resilience has become a priority – with a growing number of organisations currently implementing alternative and back up options to provide fast contingency – it is important to question whether that is enough? With so much potential for devastating loss, retailers today need to be proactive, as well as reactive in their risk management priorities and practices.

Becoming proactive starts with creating transparency across the entire supply chain infrastructure, all the way from raw materials to end delivery. Having a centralised view of the end-to-end supply chain will help retailers to flag any early warning signs of disruption, for example if a supplier has suffered production facility downtime due to a natural disaster, raw material shortage, or system failure. Team this up with the ability to rapidly harness insight from a mass of data – both internal and external – and it creates the opportunity to reconsider supply chains both tactically and strategically. As a result, the likely impact of disruption can be forecasted and a new level of agility and responsiveness achieved.

For organisations trying to determine how best to trade in a politically uncertain world, this extended insight can also drastically reduce the risk associated with introducing and managing new suppliers, freight operators and border crossings. Visibility of essential aspects of performance and operations across international markets will help to improve the quality of – and confidence in – decision making.

The fact is that disasters of varying nature will happen and retailers need to be prepared for when they do. Decision making is key, it is about having the right tools in place to ensure these decisions are effective. By creating essential supply chain transparency, retailers gain in-depth understanding of risk and will be in the best place to create resilience and plan for an evolving future.