LOGISTICS MANAGEMENT IN A RETAIL CHAIN


From producer to consumer, goods travel a long, sometimes extraordinarily long way. From the outside, the logistics process may seem simple, moving boxes, packing products, putting them on a truck and depositing them in stores. However, in B2B distribution, some specific features need to be taken into account to meet the specific requirements of customers working at the penultimate link in the industry supply chain, usually aimed at professionals or specialized companies.

Wholesale logistics can operate through multiple channels. Optimizing and allocating the necessary resources to manage each online sale, in-store sales, pick-up sales, is a matter of reliable and real-time exchange of information. It is this exchange that provides the basis for good resource management and storage systems, store and warehouse layout, optimal stock levels, floor space utilization, demand forecasting and rapid reaction to market changes.Logistical characteristics of a chain of stores

Sharing movement information and optimizing replenishment in each store.

This involves real-time sharing of inventory data in stores and central or distribution warehouses, in order to create an integrated supply chain that is demand-driven and highly flexible, i.e. able to respond in real time to changes in demand.

For a retail chain, this is achieved by creating a vendor-managed inventory management system, i.e. VMI. The WMS system monitors all minimum stock levels, starting with the store level, and is responsible for triggering the relevant replenishment orders based on these pre-established but changing minimum or safety stocks according to market needs. In this way, both the in-store warehouse and the distributors keep their stocks up to date to meet changing demand and avoid stock-outs.

Optimize the distribution chain

It responds to a need to increase the range available to customers without increasing storage space. Customers, especially those with a professional profile, often have special, very specific needs for specialized products, and therefore very slow-moving products that are not normally stocked in stores. To meet these specific needs, it is important to have a robust B2B distribution chain that can deliver the requested product to any point of sale in the shortest possible time. That is, ordered in the morning and available in store in the afternoon.

Demand forecasting.


An integrated WMS system with a robust supply chain can help optimize demand forecasting. Demand variations based on data from changes in stock levels are immediately recorded by the system.

A large change in demand at at least one point in the chain of stores is perceived by the system in a comprehensive way and being that it can anticipate a possible change in the overall trend, warn the other members of the chain and prepare their stocks in advance to adapt to these changes, before they occur. Being the only one to have a new product, on promotion or with a sudden punctual need, provides an important competitive advantage and on the other hand, not acquiring products whose consumption we know in advance is decreasing, avoids staying in store with obsolete products that are difficult to dispose of, optimizing costs.

Omnichannel.

Whether by phone, through an application, our own website, by email or by going directly to a physical store. The same consumer manages his orders in multiple ways and our WMS system must be adapted to respond in the same way to all of them.

Stock visibility is key. Whether it is a store employee answering the phone in front of a computer while informing the customer, or the customer himself viewing it directly on the phone, even being present in the same store, the actual stock of our store or our chain of stores must be visible and extremely reliable. Visible so that everyone who accesses it can see all the information needed for decision-making: technical characteristics, range of colors, measurements, weights, etc. And reliable to avoid breakage, creating false customer expectations and, consequently, lost sales.

B2B distribution of warehouses.

In B2B distribution, the location and organization of the different warehouses is a crucial part. Everything seen above can encounter real difficulties in execution if this point has not been properly taken into account.

The trend is to bring distribution warehouses as close as possible to the city so that they are able to provide a fast service to the stores, thus reducing the necessary (and expensive) surface area for each store's products in urban centers. Why do we want to have shelves overflowing with product if the units we sell in the morning are replenished that same afternoon?

Cross-docking

An important part of efficiency in B2B distribution is to properly manage cross-docking in our warehouses. Cross-docking allows us to speed up processes by eliminating intermediate steps and downtime, linking the different warehouses more efficiently than in the traditional way. If we need to quickly manage the replenishment of a chain of stores, with shuttle or valise systems, we must know that these systems base a large part of their efficiency on optimal cross-docking management of their shipments.

To keep in mind when talking about chain stores

A change of trend detected in the purchases of a store can alert of changes in the market that can reach, sooner or later, the other stores. The right software that integrates the supply chain will immediately detect these changes and adapt the frequency of orders and the quantity of each component to replenish the store. In addition, it will alert the other members of the store chain, so that they can anticipate and, if this new trend becomes established, increase their stocks of the affected range before the first customer even walks through the door.

For this to be possible, the exchange of information must be reliable and occur in real time without intermediaries. Logistically speaking, this exchange of information triggers a series of coordinated and synchronized chain processes with a single goal: to get the right product into the hands of the consumer as quickly as possible without errors.

The most in-demand components or products must be produced in greater quantities, at greater speed and distributed efficiently. Transits must be fast, operations must be efficient, intermediate steps must be as few as possible, and capillary distribution must be precise. The consumer waits for no one, and if we don't have the product he wants, the store across the street does, and that store across the street can be found on any mobile terminal today.

The real importance of logistics management lies in the fact that it gives us a competitive advantage only available to the retailer: immediate product availability. The strongest chains achieve this.

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