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The Role Of Inventory Visibility In Helping To Ease The 'Everything Shortage'

We've all heard about how supply chain delays could put a damper on holiday shopping, yet retailers and manufacturers may have a secret weapon in this regard. Many companies already have inventory data stored in their enterprise resource planning (ERP) software that, if revealed to buyers, could help ease the predicted purchasing woes.

Let me illustrate with a personal story. My teenage son is at an age where all his clothes get small before you know it. He informed us just before his school band concert that he needs "a new pair of everything." We figured it would be no big deal to go shopping. I volunteered to take him since both of us are typically quick shoppers, so I thought it would be an easy job between the two of us.

Far from it. We started shopping on Friday evening with a visit to the nearest mall and continued visiting all of the area malls and department stores throughout the weekend before finally buying clothes from Amazon. It was not a question of likes or dislikes; we simply couldn't find his size in any single store. Even after resigning ourselves to Amazon, we spent another two hours online (a large time investment for a basic pair of black pants, jacket, shirt, etc.), as only one vendor could deliver it in time.

This is when the "everything shortage" truly hit home for me. A lack of inventory is not only impacting items like paper towelsmilk and other essentials but also discretionary purchases such as a simple suit for a fast-growing teenager.

If I had to struggle to find school clothes for my son, how much trouble is the overall global supply chain in? Can the pandemic alone be blamed? Are we really doomed by a backup of containers and delayed imports, and for how long?

Originally publish in Forbes, read the complete article.

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