Stirlingretail

“You can’t be a good retailer unless you’re good at logistics”

At the recent World Retail Congress in Singapore, Scott Price, CEO Wal-Mart Asia made the statement that ‘you can’t be a good retailer unless you’re good at logistics’. Regular readers of this blog know that this is a theme I have pursued before.

However the timing this time was really good, as we have just had first sight of our new edited volume Logistics and Retail Management, formally due for publication this week by Kogan Page. This will be the fourth edition of this book edited by myself and my ex-colleague, the currently globe-trotting John Fernie.

The previous volumes have always had a good reception and provide both academic and practitioner views on changing retail logistics and their significance for retailers worldwide. They have been translated into a variety of languages. The fourth volume contains updated and new chapters reflecting on the constantly changing world of the supply of goods to stores and consumers. If you are interested in obtaining a copy then you can do so via here.

This sense of change and development in retail logistics over the last few decades is captured in an article I wrote a few years ago and have made available for download here. It is interesting to reflect the development and sophistication now needed in modern retail supply chains, as the ‘dark frontier’ has been tamed. For many retailers this has involved substantive development of inbound supply systems linking producers to their stores.
However just as one frontier is conquered, so the internet has changed the nature of the game again. We are all aware of the way in which digitization altered the supply of some products; CDs and books being notable examples.

But the rise of digital shopping (online, mobile, tablet etc.) has forced retailers to confront a newer reality. The consumer is now in more control of the product supply and is more demanding. Gone are the days of sitting in at home waiting for delivery. Now consumers want to order product and get it quickly and in ways they find convenient. Some of these ways involve the fixed store (click and collect) but many of them increasingly involve alternative locations and approaches (work, other retail shops, lockers and even your car). Retailers need in some cases to chase down the consumer to deliver the product.

For retailers this as ever is a blessing and a curse. For those that can do this – and do it profitably – then there is real brand value and market. But others are not so accommodating or effective, disappointing consumers and destroying value.

The reality is that the consumer is increasingly in charge of more sections of retail logistics, and retailers and others will have to get used to keeping them informed and satisfied, and make a profit. Interesting times ahead for those that get it right and those that get it wrong. But, as the man said, you can’t be a good retailers unless you’re good at logistics.

Fernie J. and L. Sparks (2014) Logistics and Retail Management, 4th edition, Kogan Page.