Now, more than ever, consumers demand convenience. Luckily, today’s technology provides the necessary foundation in which to deliver these requirements. Unfortunately, without careful replenishment planning, mobile ordering apps with quick pick and same day delivery options can put tremendous pressure on supply chains.
Consumer demand dictates replenishment strategies
When venturing out, consumers want store options close to home. With mobile ordering, consumers expect products to arrive fast. And above all, consumers want fresh food options with little cook or prep time.
As you’d expect, these three convenience drivers—local, fast, and fresh—add complexity to supply chains. And as the boundaries of supply chains expand, they become more complex regionally.
Retailers looking to provide fresher, shorter shelf life products—like meal kits, pre-cut, and pre-assembled items—to their consumers need to shorten supply chain timelines and keep inventory in close proximity to final store locations.
So how can suppliers address these challenges and create the infrastructure needed to accommodate these fast delivery products?
Be great at demand forecasting
When predictive analytics and market knowledge are combined, successful demand forecasting can optimize your supply chain. This helps drive confidence in business decisions. Often, demand forecasting is seen as the most challenging aspect of product production and replenishment.
Calculating forecasts manually is time consuming and resource heavy. Using scientific demand forecasting algorithms can reduce much of the manual work, but it’s important to test the algorithms against trusted expertise and experience to account for market shifts and consumer trends—something algorithms can’t always foresee.
Increase the size of your warehouse network
As purchase order lead times shrink, inventories need to be closer to final destinations. Instead of having five or six major warehouse locations, consider following the footsteps of several successful national retailers. Create a more extensive warehouse network using existing third party logistics provider (3PL) networks to keep up with changing purchase order requirements. This approach helps bring inventory closer to final destinations, making it easier to deliver fresh, fast-turning products to store locations.
Be aware that expanding warehouse networks through 3PLs can add complexity both up and downstream in the supply chain. When you move products into a larger number of 3PL warehouse locations, this generally results in smaller quantities going to more locations. Be prepared to manage less than truckload (LTL), consolidation, and crossdock services to deal with this added complexity.
Add the distribution services your customers want
Gone are the days of warehouse to customer supply chains. The keyword for successful replenishment in today’s market is convenience. Grab-n-go containers, ready-to-eat kits, and other convenient packaging options require additional supply chain services to get the job done successfully.
With so many growing services available for today’s successful supply chains, knowing which services to focus on can seem overwhelming. Whether implementing repack, crossdock, consolidation, or direct store delivery, focus on additional distribution services that enable fast, fluid movement throughout the supply chain. Working with experienced network providers can help you navigate the best options for your organization.
Don’t go it alone
Delivering fresh, quality products season after season is hard. Working with 3PLs can help ensure your products make it to consumers according to plan—when and where you need them most. By understanding order requirements and aligning supply chain providers, you can demonstrate a strong commitment to customers.
Plugging into a 3PL’s network can expand your geographical reach and improve analytics through access to broader and more robust data. Building useful analytics can be just as challenging as adding brick and mortar locations to your network. Engage with providers that can deliver on both of these fronts to drive a competitive advantage.
Find the right provider
When selecting a 3PL to focus on your replenishment strategy, look for people you can rely on. Quality providers will have expertise across all parts of your supply chain. From demand forecasting to distribution, warehouse services to final mile delivery; a great provider should be able to deliver flexible models that support and serve all your supply chain needs.
Also be sure to consider credibility and industry credentials. You and your customers want reliability and consistency. Look to engage with well-positioned, market professionals that can deliver the benefits you and your customers are looking for.
Start driving better replenishment outcomes today
As a leader in fresh produce, Robinson Fresh is dedicated to providing sourcing and supply chain solutions to help grow and manage your complex fresh produce business. Connect with a replenishment expert today to get your questions answered.