The retail supply chain must be more connected now than ever to support the changing demands of the extended supply chain from suppliers to consumers.  This connectivity should be loosely coupled in order to ensure simplicity of connection and also flexibility in changing to meet new demands. This is important because it provide the flexibility to add and change partners across the supply chain quickly and efficiently as demands change while providing the framework to share and collaborate efficiently and quickly.  The ability to quickly and efficiently collaborate is extremely important in the retail marketplace and this demand for speed of turn around will only increase going forward. This is the value provided by a loosely coupled framework and this is also why it is so important to build this flexible framework as a foundation to supporting the new retail omni market.

 

Unfortunately there are no real hard and fast rules to this connectivity and the partners must, to a certain extent, feel out the rules as they go along.  These must start with guidelines of the types of information and integration points in the market that are most beneficial to share. The key benefit of the loosely coupled framework is the ability of this framework to change and grow to support the changing demands of the market.  This is a very important aspect that will allow, and support, an efficient continuous change model to support the changing demands of all partners across the extended supply chain network. 

 

The loosely coupled integration model has been a standard practice in much of the extended supply chain for quite some time, for instance going back to the EDI model of standard integration message formats shared with partners in the extended supply chain.  The Internet and growth and acceptance of XML has all but eliminated the need for the EDI Value Added Network now and this dramatically expands the opportunities to partner across the extended supply chain with small and large partners. This provides great opportunities to expand collaboration and engagement quickly across the partners with very low cost of entry making this practice almost the price of admission to the market now.  There are really no other types of tools or practices that bring the same impact or capabilities to the supply chain and this is very important to the retail omni market to allow the partners to quickly meet new demands from the marketplace.

 

The technology required to support the loosely coupled framework is a very low cost of entry with a very high return based on the results and potential of the technology and the framework.  This simplified platform framework allows the partners in the extended supply chain to quickly and efficiently react to the changes and most importantly the velocity of changes experienced in retail omni market.  This is especially important as the velocity of changing demands increases the disruption in the market.