Supermarkets and grocery stores – A complex proposition for the transport sector

If you work in retail transportation – hats off to you. It’s one of the most demanding industries out there

If you work in retail transportation – hats off to you. It’s one of the most demanding industries out there. You’re working under huge cost pressure in the midst of a revolution. Traditional business models based on bricks and mortar stalls and footfall are rapidly becoming obsolete. End customers’ behaviour and preferences are changing faster than ever and the sector is struggling to keep up.

Supermarkets and grocery shops in particular are seeing their logistics processes become more and more complex. In addition to managing online shopping, home deliveries and a demanding clientele, they deal with perishable goods. For these businesses a truck missing it’s warehouse slot doesn’t just represent a delay – it could mean the whole shipment is spoiled. 

Managing layers of complexity 

Managing such a complicated supply chain requires efficient transportation planning and visibility. There is little room for error when dealing with delivery and pickup slots for perishable goods. In the course of the development of our Smart Booking solution, we worked with shippers and carriers to understand their challenges and how we could make the process as easy and efficient as possible. 

We started by listing some common issues facing grocery transportation. Firstly, one of the most time consuming requirements relates to loading. Certain products require specific equipment to lift and export goods often need additional paperwork. Both instances typically draw out the process meaning standard slot booking solutions fail to accurately predict slot times. Our solution takes into consideration the type of product when determining slot timings.

Another common complexity arises when carriers rely on third parties to transport goods. This is often the case with shipments abiding by EXW and FCA incoterms. Our solution grants visibility to and of these third parties to ensure warehouses are able to take them into consideration when booking slots. 

Technology holds the keys

Of course, that’s just scratching the surface of what shippers in the grocery sector have to deal with. Preparation times, for example, are dependent on the type of load and in some cases the product that preceded it. For example, a truck that just delivered fresh fish will need to be cleaned before taking on new stock. In the same vein, some goods need to be kept dry, whereas others need to be kept cool – there is no one size fits all transport device in this sector.

Warehouses also need to deal with priority shipments, which require dedicated resource and docks. These are typically higher value, but require more cost to service. A real balancing act for shippers, carriers and warehouses. 

In conclusion, shippers in this sector are under more pressure than most. Declining margins and more complex consumer demand, means the need to plan and control deliveries more effectively while maximising capacities at the loading docks is essential. Thankfully we have reached a stage where technology can be leveraged to cut downtime and processing times, while reducing empty miles. 

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The latest insights from the world of transport, logistics and supply chain from our team of in-house experts


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