Here’s Why the CSCO Will Be the Most Coveted Role in Retail
We’ve seen history repeat itself time and time again this past year. As e-commerce’s impact on retail grows, companies that once viewed the supply chain as transactional are realizing that they must revamp their strategies with a greater emphasis on the business unit.
As companies both small and large continue on their quests to deliver highly personalized customer experiences and compete with retail's digital giants, one new role is quickly becoming the darling of the retail world: the chief supply chain officer (CSCO).
In these ever-changing times, the role of the CSCO may be the best investment any retailer can make in 2020. In fact, we're even seeing companies that don’t sell a physical product, like software companies, invest in a CSCO role. From cutting costs to improving margins and delivering a bird’s-eye view to the entire shipment process (from the warehouse to the customer's front door), the CSCO will be the most talked-about role in retail this year, and can help any type of business, from SaaS companies to SMBs to big-box retailers, take control of the ever-changing and ever-impactful supply chain.
Here are a few ways CSCOs are revamping the way companies conduct supply chain practices, both internally and externally.
1. CSCOs makes organizations acknowledge the supply chain as more than just “shipping.”
When businesses typically discuss the “supply chain,” they confuse the word as a synonym for “shipping” or the final delivery of the product to the customer. However, in the past five years, the supply chain itself has become more impactful to an organization’s bottom line than just the last-mile shipment process. In fact, we conducted a study that found 80 percent of consumers say the shipping experience is what stands out most in their online shopping experience.
With the boom of e-commerce, the supply chain itself actually includes every niche part of the retail process, beyond shipping. This includes the vendors you choose, the suppliers, the logistics team, and your overall procurement process. However, even though the supply chain encompasses all of these touchpoints, organizations will typically place supply chain tasks under the duties of finance and operations departments.
The rise of the CSCO acknowledges the fact the supply chain needs to be its own practice within an organization; it can’t be slotted under another department. The role itself within an organization brings this independent practice to life.
2. The CSCO brings an overarching view of the supply chain to retailers.
Once a CSCO creates awareness of the supply chain’s deep impact on an organization, he or she is able to bring a bird’s-eye view to every touchpoint in the supply chain.
A CSCO brings unparalleled industry expertise and an overarching view of inputs and vendors to an organization. This allows companies to make those processes more efficient and, ultimately, understand what the measurable outcomes are as compared to the company's overall objectives. For retail specifically, the objective is to meet customer demand in a timely fashion and in accordance to the “promise” made to the customer. And with the growth of e-commerce, the supply chain is pivotal in catering to customer demands successfully.
The CSCO’s job also consists of having solid relationships across the entire organization to communicate these findings. He or she can help to ensure the key performance indicators (KPIs) of the organization are clearly defined, with input from various functional groups, such as finance, customer service, operations and others, informing how the supply chain impacts each part of the business.
3. A CSCO shares aid and insight in turbulent times.
A CSCO can impact a business holistically by taking the lead during times of uncertainty.
For example, on a timely note, a CSCO can help retailers in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. As a result of health and safety precautions, retailers are shifting sales online indefinitely. And with rapidly changing regulations, it’s difficult for business owners to scale for the absence of brick-and-mortar customers — and a major e-commerce surge.
With a greater reliance on the supply chain than ever, organizations need a leader who can make change impartially. This includes knowing what inventory supplies will look like, and how they impact sales, marketing and financial sectors of an organization. With a CSCO, retailers can ultimately improve the efficiency of their shipping operations with better technology, better shipment visibility, and better overall warehouse efficiency.
This, in turn, helps to reduce the stress organizations might have in dealing with major supply chain disruptions, like what we saw with the coronavirus pandemic.
It’s clear: the CSCO is more important than ever when it comes to carrying out modern-day deliverables within the retail space. In fact, I’ve found that more and more retail CEOs are starting to have supply chain experience, enabling them to work with many departments cross-functionally. With that, a CSCO within a retail company can raise awareness of the importance of the supply chain, curtail processes to fit with major business objectives, and be there to lend guidance when the business is completely reformed.
Krish Iyer is head of industry relations and strategic partnerships at ShipStation, a shipping software company.
Krish is the vice president of strategic partners and industry relations for Auctane, parent brand of companies like ShipStation, ShippingEasy, ShipEngine and Stamps.com. A respected expert in ecommerce, Krish is often quoted in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Business Insider and the New York Times. An industry leader with over 20 years of experience, Krish brings perspectives from FedEx, Pitney Bowes, Neopost, and Auctane. In addition, Krish serves as the Vice President of the Package Shippers Association (PSA), which serves as the voice of the package shipping industry.