Today, there is an increasing disconnect between consumer’s channels of information and their channels of supply. A customer may browse the internet for information before visiting a shop to physically see and touch the product before buying. Alternatively, a customer may check out the product in a shop and then search for the best price on the internet, where they can order at a time that may be more convenient to them and receive the added bonus of free delivery.
This behaviour means that now more than ever major retailers have to cover the all the bases. Information is now available everywhere at all times, through whichever channel the customer prefers. Given that the range of products available is always increasing, and sourced from all over the world, then it is easy to come to the conclusion that supply chains have never been more complex. Companies have to ensure that both the in-store and e-fulfilment arms of their business are as efficient as possible, optimising their supply chain strategy in order to give their consumers the greatest choice possible (or else in today’s society it is so easy to simply find somewhere else to buy the same product).
This is the environment in which The Logistics Business has been operating in for a number of years, delivering innovative supply chain strategy and practical logistics solutions for companies attempting to bridge the gap between themselves and their customers through optimal performance. This is as true for the established giants of retailing as it is for rapidly growing start-ups and SME’s.
A recent project developing Tesco’s ‘Dotcom Only Store’ (DCOS) in Aylesford is an example of The Logistics Business’ expertise in this sector in action. This store was opened to provide the fulfilment service for internet grocery shopping in Kent, replacing picking and delivery from Tesco supermarkets in the area. Tesco had previously fulfilled their home shopping orders by using personal shoppers to pick orders in store (in much the same way as the customer would), with the orders then being delivered to homes by vans based at stores. Business had begun to put so much pressure on the stores that a new solution to fulfilling internet orders was needed. The answer was provided by the development of dedicated fulfilment centres designed specifically to pick and despatch internet orders. Consultants from The Logistics Business worked with the Tesco team in order to advise on the designs and help specify detailed requirements, making sure the supplier designs fully met requirements. During implementation, The Logistics Business’ team also worked on-site, advising Tesco on testing and acceptance, playing major roles in helping to deliver systems on time and to specification.
Since then the facility has exceeded expectations, delivering improved productivity and accuracy. Most importantly, it has enabled Tesco to fulfil their full business case, ensuring that their online customers get the most efficient home delivery service possible.
In the case of Tesco, a company that is an acknowledged master of supply chain management, The Logistics Business was able to help develop yet another aspect of the multichannel strategy Tesco pursues. The next example is very different. Here The Logistics Business’ advice covered the whole spectrum, from strategy to practical implementation, thus laying the foundations for the client’s dramatic growth.
Fashion retailer M and M used the expertise of The Logistics Business to enable it to grow into one of the country’s largest online fashion retailers, transforming their £74m distribution operation to one capable of achieving £200m.
One of the leading UK online fashion retailers, their business had been going from strength to strength and The Logistics Business were commissioned to design and implement their move to a new warehouse in order to help them meet their projected growth. The Logistics Business provided the strategy and design behind the infrastructure that has enabled them to achieve this ambition. But there is a big step from strategy and designs to a fully functioning operation; this is where the Project Management experience of the Logistics Business is a natural complement to strategy development. The project involved a complex re-fitting of the existing warehouse, and the scale of the project meant that it came under the Health and Safety Executive’s Construction Design and Management regulations 2007 (CDM), adding a level of complexity that is daunting to most small to medium sized companies. However, The Logistics Business provided the support to ensure that all of the relevant procedures satisfied CDM requirements and by careful planning, design and selection of suppliers, the project was delivered on time and to budget.
These two examples demonstrate that there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ consulting solution when it comes helping retailers develop their supply chain. A good toolkit, analytical insight and wide experience all have to come together to benefit the client.