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Empty Shelves Equal Empty Stores: How to Get Fresh Supplies Now
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Empty Shelves Equal Empty Stores: How to Get Fresh Supplies Now

In the last year, food and beverage providers have experienced so much change to the market it borders on chaos. Sporadic demand surges have meant far too many empty shelves and out of stock events. For the most part, consumers have remained understanding during these situations.

However, as the world starts moving closer to normalcy, consumers will once again expect full shelves. Out of stock events will no longer be a product of the atypical situation of the world but will instead reflect on the effectiveness of your business, which could put your reputation on the line and send consumers shopping elsewhere.

Filling empty shelves in our post-pandemic world may rely on your ability to expedite supply—especially for fresh produce.

What is involved in expediting supply?

A truly optimized expedited strategy combines two common shipping solutions—inventory placement with direct to store delivery (DSD) service. It’s about having the right supply in the right place with the right shipping options available all at once. A geographically aligned solution ensures retailers can cover supply gaps and accommodate demand for fresh products.

There are both immediate benefits of expedited shipping services and long-term advantages of incorporating fast turn models into your shipping strategy.

Immediate benefits of expedited supply

Fill supply gaps

Previously thought of as a last-minute option to overcome sudden inventory challenges, expediting supply can help cover unexpected shortages through faster deliveries. Consider it your best bet to cover supply demands from both a volume and a geographical perspective.

Reduce handling

Due to the delicate nature of fresh products, limited handling has always been an asset. Now incorporating DSD into your expedited supply strategy has even more implications for health and wellness concerns. By reducing the number of stops, you can mitigate environmental exposure, opportunities for damage, and other risks to spoilage.

Maintain freshness

Not only does DSD reduce the time products spend at distribution centers, but an effective expedited strategy also positions products as closely as possible to consumers. This combination helps perishable products arrive with the longest possible shelf life and in the best possible condition.

Long-term benefits of expedited supply

Simplify workflow

While automation throughout supply chains is growing, stops in transit typically still require human engagement, which can create complex, transactional workflows. Because DSD bypasses distribution centers entirely, retailers can eliminate the added expense—and time—spent maintaining and monitoring these steps of the workflow.

Improve inventory tracking

No in-transit stops mean no changes in inventory. So, when products move directly from a supplier to the store front, inventory management is simple and up front. When it comes to food safety, especially during a pandemic, knowing exactly where products have travelled is invaluable.

Better manage supply shifts during promotions

Empty shelves are a big problem for consumers—especially during special promotions. When promotional items are out of stock, it can reduce basket purchases and decrease brand loyalty. Keeping shelves full can dramatically impact future shopping behaviors. Expedited supply chains inclusive of DSD reduce the risk of out of stock by helping you quickly anticipate the changes in supply often seen during promotional events.

4 steps to optimize expedited supply

1. Treat DSD as an ongoing program

Direct to store deliveries can no longer be used as a last minute solution to be used occasionally for filling supply gaps. As consumers increasingly shop online and experience expedited delivery options for other products, they’ve come to expect similar fast turn experiences for fresh produce. Stop using DSD as a temporary fix. Instead incorporate it into your everyday supply chain strategy. If you already use DSD in some areas, consider expanding existing your DSD programs to cover more store locations.

2. Consider the impact to order management

When identifying and implementing expedited supply solutions, always consider your order management process. How you process and manage transactions should not slow down the physical movement of goods. Ensure your order management workflow assists in the process quickly and correctly from start to finish. Some capabilities to look for in order management systems include item code translation, cost component clarity, and automation.

3. Enable supply management at the store level

Every store location is different, but together, they make up your overall brand. Consistency in marketing, merchandising, and product mix are critical aspects of your brand promise. But delivering on your brand promises requires store locations to have autonomy in supply management. Expedited supply strategies create a store level supply chain, ensuring each location can receive the right supply of products when they need it most.

4. Work with a provider that can reliably meet your needs

The ability to connect the many services and solutions that make up your supply chain is critical to meet today’s fast-paced expectations. Only with seamless integration will your optimization efforts reach their intended efficiency. Choose to work with a single logistics provider to reduce disconnects that could slow down shipping time.

Evolving with demand through expedited supply

In today’s market, the very essence of shipping and consumer interaction with purchasing continues to evolve. As a retailer, you need to know how to get products to the people who need and want them. Amidst the ongoing changes in the world around us, now is the time to analyze your traditional supply chain models to see if they’re still effective for today’s needs.

Robinson Fresh has the seamless, multimodal set of services you need to reliably meet all your fresh produce and cold chain logistics needs today and in the future For more information about developing a balanced expedited supply strategy, visit our website.

Craig Mack

Craig Mack - Vice President of Warehouse and Inventory Services

Craig Mack joined C.H. Robinson’s Eden Prairie corporate office in 2011. Bringing 23 years of experience in various industries, he focuses on improving efficiencies, productivity, and performance through operational best practices while expanding geographic capacity and service offerings to deliver a consistent customer experience across its network of Service Centers.
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