Getting your product from inception to customer is rarely that proverbial straight line from A to B. Twists and turns and random surprises can occur— yet you know you must satisfy your customers. Navigating the process is difficult, but by using Agility retail logistics solutions, you can ensure that your business has the agile supply chain it needs to face present-day challenges.
Take, for example, the effect of the global health pandemic on retail. The CEO of Walmart reported a 300 percent increase in pickup and delivery services in the first quarter of 2020. The trend toward online shopping was already on the rise, but COVID-19 has upended the supply and demand model, requiring businesses to adapt.
Whether it’s sourcing raw materials, locating warehouses, or tracking the last mile, supply chain planning will earn your business a competitive advantage from effective, adaptable management. Retail logistics management is crucial to any business model, and Agility can provide retail logistics solutions and technology that bolster your supply chain agility.
The retail supply chain
At the end of an effective retail supply chain is a satisfied consumer with a product in hand. But a series of steps along the way involve additional customer interactions. Each one’s success depends on the efficiency, adaptability, and affordability of the logistics.
Elements of a retail supply chain
The first link in a supply chain is the delivery of raw materials to a producer, who is essentially the first customer. The producer then supplies the next customer: the wholesaler, retail headquarters, or warehouse. That entity then becomes the supplier and ships goods to the next customer: the retailer. The final customer—the consumer —purchases the product from the retail company.
Facilitating each of those processes between customers is the very definition of supply chain management.
Factors affecting a retail supply chain
Supply chain leaders master integration, operations, purchasing, and distribution within their supply networks. Maintaining a competitive advantage requires regular review of supply chain performance. If your business doesn’t have that competitive advantage, it may be time to reassess the components of your supply chain.
Supply chain structure, inventory control policies, supplier efficiency and communication, customer demand, forecasting methods, and lead times all affect a retail supply chain. And environmental factors can stress global supply chains too—notably the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused many companies to conduct more transactions online or to do business entirely online.
But according to a consumer survey by the National Retail Federation (NRF), 61 percent of consumers still depend on physical stores being open. Combine that with the concurrent consumer desire to order online and have goods on their doorstep as soon as possible, and it’s no wonder companies are scrutinizing their supply chain logistics.
Characteristics of an effective supply chain
Effective communication is the foundation to a robust supply chain strategy. A study that examined supply chain logistics concluded that “information sharing is the biggest driver of performance in the supply chain. Continuous sharing of information helps managers in better decision-making, which improves the performance of the supply chain.”
Additional qualities driving an effective supply chain include leadership that embraces change and diversity, the integration of data and technology, and effective supply chain planning.
A supply chain assessment can ensure that your supply chain management is efficient, productive, and—above all—optimized for flexibility and adaptability to whatever comes next.
Solutions for retail logistics management
From raw materials to customer purchase, a product must travel through the retail supply chain. That includes inventory, packaging, transportation, freight, receiving, warehousing, disposal, and security. And each of those components requires effective oversight.
That’s a lot of moving parts. Effective retail logistics management of the supply chain is the only surefire way to meet customer demand.
Technological solutions for retail logistics management
The future of supply chain management is in creative and adaptable technologies that meet the ever-evolving needs and wants of consumers.
One example of supply chain technology is robotic process automation, which is artificial intelligence that allows software to handle many of the steps involved in a shipping transaction by eliminating the need for manual data entry. RPA is able to recognize, enter and respond to data and shipping information, triggering responses and interacting with other digital systems.
Another technology solution is a blockchain, a virtual ledger that allows for the secure exchange and storage of information involved in shipping transactions. Each process has a digital record, and the information is decentralized, transparent, and undeletable. It is also recorded and available – in a secure fashion to authorized parties – in real-time.
Blockchain technology works well with all the trackers, wireless sensor networks, embedded systems, and automation that make up the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT devices embedded in products and packing enable businesses to track and monitor inventory and freight. IoT allows supply chain managers toguarantee inventory accuracy while customers and suppliers have access to real-time records.
Trends that drive retail logistics management solutions
More customers are shopping online and expect more of retail sites. But according to an article by the NRF, of all online retail features, surveyed customers prefer certain nontechnological ones most: free shipping (nearly 70 percent), and free returns (just under 50 percent).
Overall, the entire online retail experience is vital, as Michelle Evans, senior head of digital consumer research for Euromonitor International, tells the NRF: “A consumer’s tech experience impacts brand perception more than any other interaction.”
Transportation costs drive retail logistics, and geography plays a key role. In the crucial last mile between warehouse and final destination, more cost-efficient carrier options are available. And on-demand warehousing, unburdened by long-term leases or fixed costs, provides flexibility where traditional warehousing solutions cannot.
Agility’s solutions for retail logistics
COVID-19 has presented real challenges to supply chain agility, including by shifting customer demand, causing new restrictions, and leading to raw material shortages. The outbreak has forced many businesses to reassess and rapidly adapt their supply chains to meet demand.
Agile solutions for the entire supply chain
Agility assists businesses and their supply chain partners in achieving operational efficiency for the flow and storage of goods from point of origin to point of consumption. Agility’s services include solutions for the following:
- Cargo management
- Cash flow and cost management
- Hub and spoke logistics
- Supply chain networks
- Primary and secondary distribution
- Supply chain modeling and consulting
Creating a digital supply chain can be daunting all in one go. Agility recommends continuous incremental change to supply chain planning—small trials and pilots for specific parts of the process. Together, your team and Agility can evaluate how these trials impact your business.
By using real data over intuition, you can effectively reroute your supply chain as needed and steer toward success.
Agility’s plan for sustainable logistics
Agility is committed to building a greener supply chain, including by achieving green building certifications through sustainable construction and upgrades to warehouses and logistics facilities. As of 2019, 61 percent of Agility employees worked in a site that had achieved certification for ISO 14001, the international standard for effective environmental management systems.
Agility’s goal is to reduce its carbon footprint by 25 percent by the year 2050.
Optimized retail logistics with Agility’s solutions
Whether large or small, established or start-up, any business can benefit by incorporating logistics management into their supply chain strategy.
Agility is one of the world’s largest integrated logistics providers and the largest private owner and developer of industrial real estate in the Middle East and North Africa. An experienced Agility team can analyze your business, apply predictive analytics to find improvement opportunities, design customized solutions, manage implementation, and provide quality assurance.
Optimize your supply retail chain today by contacting Agility for logistics solutions.