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DISTRIBUTION MONTH: How to ensure you pick the right route forward

Efficient and reliable distribution solutions are critical for UK brand supply chain professionals. Selecting the right provider can significantly impact your brand’s success, influencing product availability, customer satisfaction, and overall profitability. Here are some top tips to guide you in sourcing a trusted distribution solutions provider…

1. Define Your Needs Clearly:

Start by clearly outlining your specific needs. What types of products are you distributing? Do you require regional, national, or international reach? Consider factors like volume, storage requirements, and desired delivery speeds. Defining your needs allows for targeted selection, focusing on providers that specialize in areas relevant to your business.

2. Seek Expertise in Your Industry:

Choosing a provider with experience within your industry offers several advantages. They will understand the specific regulations, handling requirements, and potential challenges unique to your sector. This translates to tailored solutions that optimize your supply chain efficiency and meet industry-specific compliance needs.

3. Prioritise Transparency and Communication:

Effective communication is crucial for a successful partnership. Choose a provider that prioritizes open communication, offering regular updates on inventory levels, shipment tracking, and any potential disruptions. Look for providers that utilise online portals or accessible communication channels to ensure you have real-time information.

4. Evaluate Technology Integration:

Modern distribution relies on efficient technology integration. Opt for a provider that utilises robust warehouse management systems (WMS) and seamlessly integrates with your existing systems (e.g., order management systems, stock control software). This facilitates seamless information flow, improves order accuracy, and streamlines overall operational efficiency.

5. Consider Sustainability Practices:

Consumers increasingly value brands committed to environmental responsibility. Evaluate the provider’s sustainability practices, such as green warehousing initiatives, fuel-efficient transportation solutions, and responsible waste management. Aligning with a sustainability-focused provider can enhance your brand image and resonate with environmentally conscious customers.

6. Assess Scalability and Flexibility:

As your brand grows, your distribution needs will evolve. Choose a provider with the capacity and flexibility to scale with you. This ensures your distribution solution continues to meet your evolving requirements without the need for frequent changes or disruptions.

7. Negotiate Competitive Rates and Clear Contracts:

Secure transparent pricing structures and well-defined contracts outlining service level agreements (SLAs), performance metrics, and dispute resolution mechanisms. Be wary of hidden fees or ambiguous clauses. Negotiate competitive rates that align with your budget and the value of services provided.

8. Request References and Case Studies:

Seek references from existing clients within your industry or facing similar challenges. This offers valuable insights into the provider’s performance, customer service approach, and ability to deliver on promises. Additionally, request case studies showcasing their successful projects and strategies for optimizing supply chains.

9. Conduct Site Visits and Audits:

Don’t hesitate to conduct site visits to the provider’s facilities. This allows you to assess their infrastructure, storage practices, security measures, and overall adherence to safety and quality standards. Consider partnering with independent auditors to verify the provider’s compliance with relevant industry regulations.

By following these top tips, brand supply chain professionals can confidently navigate the selection process and secure trusted distribution solutions providers. Choosing the right partner will not only ensure efficient and reliable product delivery but also contribute to your brand’s overall success and customer satisfaction.

Are you looking for Distribution solutions for your organisation? The Total Supply Chain Summit can help!

Photo by Centre for Ageing Better on Unsplash

DISTRIBUTION MONTH: The pillars of successful A-Z planning

The distribution of goods stands as a critical component of supply chain management, ensuring that products reach their destination efficiently, cost-effectively, and within the expected timeframes, thereby maintaining customer satisfaction and competitive edge. Here are the key pillars for implementing an effective goods distribution strategy, based on inout for attendees at the Total Supply Chain Summit…

1. Comprehensive Planning and Analysis: The bedrock of any successful distribution strategy is thorough planning and analysis. This entails a deep understanding of market demands, customer expectations, and the geographical challenges specific to the UK. Supply chain professionals must analyse historical data, predict future trends, and consider factors such as seasonal fluctuations and economic shifts. This foundational step ensures that the distribution strategy is both proactive and responsive to changing market dynamics.

2. Network Optimisation: Optimising the distribution network is crucial for minimising costs and maximising efficiency. This involves selecting the ideal locations for warehouses and distribution centres to ensure they are strategically positioned near key markets and transport links. Network optimisation also includes assessing the benefits of owning versus leasing facilities and determining the optimal number of sites to balance service levels with cost considerations.

3. Inventory Management: Effective inventory management is essential to avoid stockouts or excess stock, both of which can significantly impact the efficiency of goods distribution. Implementing just-in-time (JIT) inventory practices or leveraging sophisticated inventory management systems can help maintain the right balance, ensuring that products are available when and where they are needed without tying up excessive capital in stock.

4. Multi-modal Transportation Solutions: Utilising a mix of transportation modes – including road, rail, air, and sea – can offer flexibility and cost savings. Supply chain professionals should evaluate the advantages of each mode in terms of speed, cost, and capacity, tailoring the mix to suit the specific needs of their goods and delivery requirements. Additionally, staying abreast of developments in transportation infrastructure and technology in the UK is vital for maintaining an efficient distribution strategy.

5. Technology Integration and Data Analytics: Leveraging the latest technology and data analytics tools can significantly enhance distribution efficiency. From advanced tracking systems that provide real-time visibility of goods in transit to sophisticated analytics that optimise routes and predict potential disruptions, technology plays a pivotal role in modern distribution strategies.

6. Sustainability Considerations: With increasing emphasis on environmental responsibility, integrating sustainability into the distribution strategy is becoming a priority. This could involve using eco-friendly packaging, optimising routes to reduce carbon emissions, or selecting transportation modes based on their environmental impact.

7. Partnership and Collaboration: Building strong relationships with logistics partners, suppliers, and transportation providers is essential for an effective distribution strategy. Collaboration can lead to shared insights, cost savings, and enhanced service levels, benefiting all parties involved.

Implementing an effective goods distribution strategy in the UK requires a multifaceted approach, combining comprehensive planning, network optimisation, inventory management, multi-modal transportation, technology integration, sustainability efforts, and strategic partnerships. By focusing on these key pillars, supply chain professionals can ensure that their distribution strategy is both efficient and adaptable to the ever-changing market landscape.

Are you looking for Distribution solutions for your organisation? The Total Supply Chain Summit can help!

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Dedication to distribution

The challenges of distribution are manyfold. Whether that is looking at your carbon emissions, route planning or team availability, distribution is at the heart of any supply chain. So, from a planning point of view, you need to ensure that once your stock leaves your depot or distribution centre, it is not going to come back.

The first and most obvious reason for a ‘returning’ dispatch unit is incorrect stock. Whether that is an unfulfilled order which needs updating or an incorrect pick, the cost can impact the entire supply chain. Returned deliveries, reissuing of stock, and extra delivery components are all by-products of depot inaccuracy.

Warehouse stock availability is another key area that can cause delivery issues. A lack of clarity on stock availability can lead to repeat deliveries to catch up with ‘On-Shelf Availability’.

So, when we talk about distribution, the first point in any supply chain we need to get right is the start. The processes at the warehouse and distribution centre level are paramount to a successful and efficient delivery model. This includes ‘Origin Checks’ on incoming deliveries from abroad and ‘Pick Accuracy’ on selected lines.

For any warehouse, this is a time-consuming and costly exercise. Using a third-party company such as Orridge Supply Chain Services (SCS), you can remove the paperwork headaches included in supplier discrepancies, and remove the need for vast numbers of team members used to count everything in.

Orridge SCS tailor their services to your supply chain’s specific needs, with the goal of saving you time, money and unnecessary stress. Our independent position means that we can collaborate with suppliers or vendors in a uniquely neutral space, allowing peace of mind in all discrepancy adjustments.

In situations where there is inaccuracy throughout a supply chain, Orridge can offer accuracy benchmarks all the way down to store level, giving you the peace of mind you need to solve any issues.

If you want to get your distribution right, start at the top and work your way down. Orridge Supply Chain Services are here to help you resolve the nagging worries surrounding your distribution challenges.

If you specialise in Distribution solutions we want to hear from you!

Each month on Supply Chain Briefing we’ll be shining the spotlight on a different part of the logistics market – and in February we’ll be focussing on Distribution.

It’s all part of our ‘Recommended’ editorial feature, designed to help supply chain industry buyers find the best products and services available today.

So, if you’re a Distribution specialist and would like to be included as part of this exciting new shop window, we’d love to hear from you – for more info, contact Nick Stannard on n.stannard@forumevents.co.uk.

Feb 2024 – Distribution
Mar 2024 – Forecasting
Apr 2024 – Warehouse Management Software
May 2024 – Total End-to-End Solution
Jun 2024 – Cost Reductions
Aug 2024 – Logistics & Operations Management
Sept 2024 – Labelling & Packaging
Oct 2024 – 3PL & 4PL
Nov 2024 – Order Fulfilment
Dec 2024 – Transport Planning & Load Optimisation
Jan 2025 – Delivery Management

American online consumers have a craving for UK products

The US e-commerce market is the second largest in the world. Surpassed only by the Chinese, which underwent an almost improbable development in the last ten years. The Americans are keen and experienced online shoppers. According to the IPC* Cross-border E-commerce Shopper survey 2022, more than 50 percent of the US online audience shopped online at least once a week. That is considerably more than the total average in the 39 countries covered by the study, which was 34 percent.

This enthusiasm is also reflected in how online spending in the US has developed in recent years. In 2017, the retail e-commerce revenue was 416 billion U.S. dollars. In 2022, it had increased to 850 billion U.S. dollars, and is forecasted to reach 1 357 billion U.S. dollars by 2025.

26 percent of American cross border consumers made purchases from the United Kingdom in 2022, making it the number two foreign destination after China. For those UK e-tailers who are not yet offering their products to the US market that number should be of interest. The top three product categories that US online consumers are buying from abroad are Clothing, footwear and apparel, consumer electronics and accessories, and personal care and beauty products.

So, UK products are in demand in the US and have a strong reputation for quality. The US is the UK’s largest export market for both goods and services. In general terms, it’s quite unadventurous to export to the US, with low regulatory barriers and minimal language barriers.

However, the US is not a single national market. It’s a federal system which means that you as an exporter need to do your homework and treat each state as a separate entity with its own procedures and regulations.

Contact Direct Link UK department to see how they can help you with your e-commerce deliveries from the UK to US!

*International Post Corporation

Do you specialise in Distribution solutions? We want to hear from you!

Each month on Supply Chain Briefing we’ll be shining the spotlight on a different part of the logistics market – and in February we’ll be focussing on Distribution

It’s all part of our ‘Recommended’ editorial feature, designed to help supply chain industry buyers find the best products and services available today.

So, if you’re a Distribution specialist and would like to be included as part of this exciting new shop window, we’d love to hear from you – for more info, contact Nick Stannard on n.stannard@forumevents.co.uk.

Feb – Distribution
Mar – Forecasting
Apr – Warehouse Management Software
May – Total End-to-End Solutions
Jun – Cost Reductions
Jul – Supply Chain Software
Aug – Logistics & Operations Management
Sept – Labelling & Packaging
Oct – 3PL & 4PL
Nov – Order Fulfilment
Dec – Transport Planning & Load Optimisation
Jan 2024 – Delivery Management

Launching your eCommerce brand stateside: a five-step guide to setting up US fulfilment

Operating effective eCommerce fulfilment across the globe has become essential for many growing brands, as consumers in various countries increasingly demand certainty and speed of delivery. This has therefore necessitated the requirement for businesses to consider opening fulfilment centres in different locations to keep pace with demand. One region that continues to be of great appeal is the US market. 

However, “setting up shop” stateside is not as straightforward as one might think for foreign businesses. It demands a vast amount of preparation and planning behind the scenes – which can often go unnoticed and is underestimated. Emma Dempsey, CEO, James and James Fulfilment explains more… 

The US retail opportunity

Traditionally the UK and USA have strong trade ties, and the UK Government has committed to continue to deepen its trading relationships with the United States (and the European Union). It also sees the US as a ready-to-trade market, and says it will continue to promote exporters to this region, among others.

Additionally, the potential to drive retail eCommerce revenue here is exciting. Statista forecasts that by 2025, online shopping revenue in the US will exceed 1.3 trillion dollars, highlighting the potential of this market. However, despite the opportunity that the US market presents, only 27 percent of SMEs have selected it as a preferred market destination, according to  research by Newable. British businesses need further education about this opportunity and how to capitalise on it. At its highest level, this involves appreciating that there are five key steps UK eCommerce businesses should consider as they try to enter the US.

Step 1: Register as a foreign for-profit corporation

The first step is to register your existing business as a foreign for-profit corporation with the appropriate US governing body, which differs across states. This essentially gives organisations the licence to do business in the US. In Ohio – where we have a fulfilment centre, for example – you can do this by completing a 530A form. The form is quite straightforward to complete and requires the following typical information:

  • Page 1: Your existing business contact details
  • Page 2: A Certificate of Good Standing, which you can get from Companies House
  • Page 3: The details of an “agent” in Ohio – such as James and James, which can act as your fulfilment partner and centre
  • Page 4: A Notary Public, who should be local to you, to sign and seal a hard copy of the form.

Step 2: Register to collect and remit sales tax

Unlike in the UK, there’s no blanket Value Added Tax (VAT) in the US. Instead, different states have different rules around sales tax. Usually, organisations have to collect sales tax from consumers and pass this on (or remit it) to the state, providing your organisation has a “nexus” or permission to trade.

Importantly, within this context, there are two types of nexus to consider. The first is a ‘Sales tax nexus’, which results from having a physical presence in the state, including inventory in a fulfilment centre. The second is an ‘Economic nexus’, which results from achieving a certain amount of revenue or orders from a state. So, for example, if you hold stock in Columbus, while your biggest markets are Los Angeles and New York, you’ll collect and remit sales tax in Ohio, California and New York.

Step 3: Set up your local fulfilment centre

The next step is to set up a fulfilment centre. The USA is obviously a big place, so shipping nationwide isn’t as quick or easy as it is in the UK. Having a few US fulfilment centres can help, but it also adds complexity to inventory management. For businesses entering this market, the Midwest is a good starting location, as it enables 2-3 day shipping across North America (the bar set by Amazon Prime) from one central spot.

Managing your orders and inventory in another country, with a five-to-eight hour time difference, is a complicated and complex process at the best of times too. For this operation to run as efficiently as possible, it is best to ensure that the facility is being driven by a powerful cloud-based warehouse management system (WMS), order management system (OMS), and that the centre has been set up effectively to manage any customer product returns, a bugbear for customers these days.

Equally, you want to ensure that these various systems are tied back into your UK HQ or fulfilment centres for better data management and insights. This kind of technology enables teams to know in real-time, the status of stock levels and what goods are coming in and out. It also enables retailers to track any further details about products that can be used to inform future product purchasing decisions and marketing campaigns in that region.

Step 4: Send stock in bulk to the USA

Once your US fulfilment centre has been set up correctly, it’s time to send your stock to it in bulk. Using a freight forwarding company removes a lot of hassle here. These companies help with managing aspects of the logistics and customs processes. For example, from a logistics perspective, they organise the transportation of goods to the US, whether from existing UK stock or from a manufacturer in another country. They also help to manage customs, and act as the Customs Broker or Importer of Record (IOR); making the path easier for goods as they make their way through customs, and ensuring the correct duties are paid.

Step 5: Sell, sell, sell

While you’re likely to be making some sales to the US already, once you’re properly set up, you can really turn your marketing engine on. When doing this, it’s important to think about how to localise your eCommerce store (website) for American customers, with prices in dollars and sizes in US or imperial measurements. Ensure you really are making the most of your local fulfilment centre, by promoting cheaper shipping, faster delivery and simpler returns to US customers.

Tune your email and social media campaigns to US culture, with its more direct approach – and target those numerous appropriate national holidays and discount days. Finally, ensure you register and protect your trademarks and intellectual property in the US, as well as at home.

Conclusion

As the UK and US economies continue to grow, eCommerce businesses must ensure they have the right operations and support teams in place to fully take advantage of these markets. Today, a large part of getting eCommerce right locally involves setting up your back office infrastructure and fulfilment centres correctly and effectively. Add in another market though, like the US, and this becomes far more complex. This is why it is important for British businesses to consider how best to expand their business in the US – and to work with proven fulfilment partners, that can enable them to deliver goods to customers successfully and grow their brands, allowing them to tap into the 1.3 trillion US dollars on offer.

British Corner Shop opens Dutch distribution centre

Online grocery store British Corner Shop has opened a new warehouse in Wijchen, The Netherlands – the first of its kind for the Bristol-based business as it seeks to offset the impact of Brexit and associated supply chain issues.

The new distribution centre doubles the size of the company’s previous warehouse, allowing them to stock more of their extensive selection of produce. It has also enabled them to hire their own employees, which ensures a higher quality of packing and stocking management, improving communication, and allowing greater oversight over orders.

The export industry has been massively impacted by Brexit, with British Corner Shop seeing a drop of 40% in turnover in the European market. This move to a fully dedicated European warehouse allows them to return to giving their customers service, free of supply chain and cross border compliance delays.

The retailer, which currently has 2,000 products from Britain’s most loved brands available to EU destinations, stocks many items not currently accessible to other supermarkets across Europe. Delays and ambiguities caused by the new Brexit laws saw a decrease in orders, and the company hope their new presence in Europe itself will help them to again meet the demands for British Products in the expat community.

With the new supply chain in place, British Corner Shop will enhance the proposition for their European customers. Plans include expansion of the brands and products on offer, increasing their range to over 5,000 of the best loved British products. This will also involve expanding the Marks & Spencer product range, including chilled, fresh and bakery, and adding new categories including alcohol and organic ranges.

Jon Farrar, Head of Marketing at British Corner Shop, said: “For British Corner Shop our customer base in Europe has, and continues to be, of great importance to us. Brexit changed the way we serve our customers, adding complexity in both the physical movement of goods and compliance in terms of the cross-border trade between the UK and Europe.

“With our new integrated, warehousing and supply chain operations based in the Netherlands, we have welcomed our first cohort of local employees and are dispatching orders for next day delivery across Europe successfully. The initial customer feedback has been extremely positive.

We feel positive that the challenges brought about by Brexit are behind us, and that we are moving forward now in way that is significantly better than before for our European customers.

Do you specialise in Distribution? We want to hear from you!

Each month on Supply Chain Briefing we’ll be shining the spotlight on a different part of the logistics market – and in February we’ll be focussing on Distribution. It’s all part of our ‘Recommended’ editorial feature, designed to help supply chain industry buyers find the best products and services available today. So, if you specialise in Distribution and would like to be included as part of this exciting new shop window, we’d love to hear from you – for more info, contact Nick Stannard on n.stannard@forumevents.co.uk. Feb – Distribution Mar – Forecasting Apr – Warehouse Management Software May – Total End-to-End Solutions Jun – Cost Reductions Jul – Supply Chain Software Aug – Logistics & Operations Management Sept – Labelling & Packaging Oct – 3PL & 4PL Nov – Order Fulfilment Dec – Transport Planning & Load Optimisation

DOWNLOAD: Shipping and Distribution – The State of the Deskless Workforce

Are staffing problems leaving your business high and dry? Download Quinyx’s new report for invaluable employee retention and scheduling advice. 

Current worker shortages in the UK are continuing to cause problems. Many firms are desperately trying to avoid business disruption as they attempt to plug staffing gaps, whilst running the risk of overworking existing team members too.

Workforce management solution provider Quinyx has released a new report aimed at leaders within the shipping and distribution sectors. Full of useful tips and advice on staff scheduling and employee engagement, the report outlines findings from Quinyx’s recent study of ‘deskless’ workers in the industry, highlighting what matters most to employees.

As the sector faces uncertainty following COVID-19 and Brexit, looking after loyal staff has never been more important. Quinyx’s report contains key insights on employee retention, plus details of how managers can implement scheduling processes to make day-to-day operations run more smoothly.

Download your free copy here.

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