Questions of compliance must be addressed without losing sight of sustainable, profitable and scalable business practices. To meet even higher modern standards of compliance, retailers are turning to technology to ensure they are on top of stock management, health and safety, and the supply chain.

Vendor assessments

Last year Debenhams became the latest retail giant to announce the adoption of a vendor assessment system, provided in this case by supply chain analysts at Altius. Such a tool aims to help businesses ascertain and manage the risks that arise from any important supplier relationship. A nationwide retailer may find that its inputs arrive on time, but can its suppliers be depended on to adhere to health and safety guidelines? Will they support the resolution of customer service problems when it matters? Can they generally be depended upon as far as Corporate Social Responsibility ("CSR") is concerned?

CSR describes the frameworks for companies seeking to self-regulate from a sustainable, environmental and social responsibility point of view, and technology is introducing state-of-the-art monitoring systems to serve as one-stop-shops for supply chain assessment on these fronts.

Streamlining health and safety

Tailor-made apps such as Safety Wizard are bringing health and safety compliance into the digital age. Such streamlined approaches replace paper-based processes, allowing compliance officers to keep track of regulations and necessary checks from any location on their mobile device. Indeed, health and safety issues can be reported and acted upon in real time – the days of processing paper-based reports through various departments over time are numbered.

Data privacy compliance

Retailers are adopting beacon technologies to address shoppers directly through mobile apps and downloads as they pass through the vicinity, but synching to shoppers’ real-world retail experiences goes hand in hand with tricky data and privacy issues.

The Data Protection Act and Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations stipulate that consumers usually need to be informed ahead of the intended collection of personal data by a retailer. Retail beacons often use location software to pinpoint consumers, and in order to maintain compliance with privacy legislation, retailers are necessarily searching for inventive ways to balance the free flow of data. It will surprise very few that the technology that is unlocking a whole new world of reaching and delighting customers is the same one introducing a host of new challenges.