Calling all carriers: four retail trends you must bear in mind in 2022
Retailers’ financial success depends on their ability to get their products into stores or to consumers on time and at the lowest cost. As a logistics service provider, you play a crucial role in this – and you will come under even more pressure over the course of this year. Will you be able to keep pace with the challenges facing the retail sector, or will you be dropped by pioneering shippers? In this blog, we outline four significant trends that are heading your way and we give you some tips about how digitisation can help you to prepare for them.
Retail trend no. 1:
Changing consumer behaviour calls for new concepts
The first trend carriers definitely need to be aware of is the change in consumer behaviour. Retail is all about anticipating customer needs. This was illustrated during the coronavirus pandemic, when the retail world was turned upside down and consumers suddenly started displaying completely different buying behaviour. Everyone started doing even more shopping online and new concepts such as ‘click & collect’ and instant delivery services blossomed. As Dutch grocery chains such as Albert Heijn and Jumbo saw their online orders shoot up, they had to rapidly set up new e-fulfilment centres to be able to meet the enormous demand.
Tip for carriers: Find out as much as you can about new retail concepts and be flexible and constructive when dealing with retailers. Model scenarios for yourself and be prepared for possible setbacks, such as the recent societal resistance to quick-commerce ‘dark stores’. You can only create the necessary trust to make new concepts successful by being transparent towards your supply chain partners, government authorities and other stakeholders.
Retail trend no. 2:
The gap is closing between logistics planning and execution processes
The second essential trend for logistics service providers is the tighter collaboration between links in the supply chain. For example, inbound and outbound transport flows at DCs are increasingly being managed on the basis of a single integrated planning schedule. Besides being useful for crossdocking, it’s also necessary in order to optimally utilize the overstretched capacity of logistics operatives and drivers. The gap between planning and execution processes is closing too. Delivery times are under increasing pressure; successive logistics activities are planned as tightly as possible. But all this is pointless unless execution processes are also performed according to an equally tight schedule and any disruptions are detected in real time. Only then can you keep the planning schedule up to date and realistic.
Tip for carriers: Professionalise your planning schedule and increase the predictability of delivery times. The better you can predict how much time a shipment will take, the better other links in the chain can prepare for it. Reliable ETAs ensure that staff in stores and DCs can be ready for deliveries, which can sometimes reduce the loading and unloading times by as much as half.
Retail trend no. 3:
Data is the new gold and is becoming even more important in retail
The third development relates to what is known as the ‘new gold’ in the supply chain: data. To ensure that deliveries arrive at their destination right on time, that stores are replenished predictably and punctually, and that all the necessary people (customers, shippers, planners and drivers) are informed as fully as possible, data must be available to everyone in real time. Data is also needed to analyse trips and loading/unloading times. This will help you to improve the reliability of your planning schedule and to identify bottlenecks in your processes. The availability of accurate data is also essential for automating administrative processes. This will enable carriers like you to reduce your error rates and therefore costs, and also make you less reliant on labour – which is already in short supply.
Tip for carriers: Standardise your data in line with commonly used protocols and collaborate with supply chain partners on a single version of the truth. Ensure that everyone has the data relevant to them and avoid differences in interpretation. Transparency is good, but be aware of prevailing privacy legislation too, and avoid ‘leaking’ competitively sensitive information.
Retail trend no. 4:
Governments are forcing retailers to make their supply chains more sustainable
Last but not least, sustainability: a topic that will be high on the agendas of every retail company in the coming years, and that may even eclipse the previous trends. Shippers will have to pay high penalties for their carbon emissions. Polluting transportation activities will be severely restricted, particularly in urban environments. Many local governments plan to introduce stricter environmental zones and may only permit electric vehicles to enter, which will affect store deliveries. As a carrier, your trucks may only be allowed to deliver to city hubs, from where the goods will be taken by cargo e-bikes or vans for the environmentally friendly last mile. This will make reliable planning schedules and digital exchange of data even more important.
Tip for carriers: Be prepared for the compulsory CO2 reports your clients will have to submit and play your part in lowering total carbon emissions. Large companies will have to record in detail the amount of emissions they generate. To do so, they will need help from carriers like you – and the data from your transport operations. By improving the efficiency of transport activities and optimally utilizing transport capacity, you will add more value as a partner by helping retailers to achieve their sustainability targets.
Want to know more about retail trends for 2022? Watch the webinar
In this blog, we have provided some advice which logistic service providers can use to take their retail supply chain performance to the next level. At Simacan, we are convinced that sharing real-time data between retailers, carriers and customers is the key to an optimum, sustainable retail supply chain. We see many examples of this among the clients who use our collaborative platform for this purpose, such as Albert Heijn, Jumbo, Post NL Transport, Simon Loos and Cornelissen Groep. Feel free to contact us if you would like to know more about our products and how they have helped our clients to achieve results, or if you would like to talk to us about any of the retail trends mentioned above.