During the not-so-distant economic boom period, few people would have pictured today’s half-empty freight carriers ferrying merchandise from China to UK stores, not to mention the recent steep rise in freight costs.
During the not-so-distant economic boom period, few people would have pictured today’s half-empty freight carriers ferrying merchandise from China to UK stores, not to mention the recent steep rise in freight costs. With these costs set to continue to rise, and with fast fashion getting even faster and traditional, low-cost countries of origin losing their value appeal, retailers and brands need to sharpen up and streamline their supply chains.
But the good news is that there are plenty of options. While low-cost countries like China may be experiencing rapid wage inflation and thus not offering the keen prices of years gone by, other countries have joined the mix, offering brands and retailers different areas of expertise, faster speed to market and better production techniques depending on individual needs. Initiatives that move pre-retail activity, such as by store merchandising, up the supply chain are also being developed and helping to shave costs.
Technology, too, is helping to boost efficiency and choice in home delivery services. Delivery and distribution fulfilment companies are working hard to provide their retail partners with more nominated day and time-of-day delivery options, and later order deadlines - as demanded by the consumer. With the help of Google Earth, some companies now provide one-hour delivery windows whereby delivery drivers text customers the estimated time of arrival of their parcels.
Tough times offer an opportunity to innovate, and supply chain directors and third-party partners are doing just that.
Ana Santi Commissioning Editor