Transparency will improve supplies

In the main, the wholesale industry does not consider the back door and the logistics associated with intake of stock as a key part of its business process. Quite the contrary, the back door is often perceived as a cause of inconvenience and just a place that goods come through.

However, by opening ourselves up to our customers and adopting a position that advocates transparency something that currently runs counterintuitive to instinctive wholesale thinking wholesalers could actually become better operators and suppliers better providers.

The issues associated with logistics in the wholesale industry are well documented and oft-lamented from product being short delivered, or not delivered at all, to being an incorrect pack. Whatever the cause, the results are empty shelves and product being out of stock.

But where does the blame truly lie? What is the cause of the issue?

The problem is largely that wholesalers can’t answer these relatively simple questions. It could be that the supplier has short delivered product, a situation that not infrequently occurs with new product. But that is in itself hardly a surprise, when wholesalers have to compete for stock against multiples who are exacting in their demands. As a supplier, if you have Tesco saying, “Here’s an order for a truck, we want it at such and such RDC with such and such pallet labelling and we want it to arrive at 10:38 tomorrow morning”, who are you honestly going to prioritise? Or quite simply the delivery doesn’t turn up at all.

But the situation could equally be that the product is in the depot but sat up in storage above the floor level and not brought down. So it could theoretically be available for sale but is not within the customers’ reach.

Until such times as the wholesaler starts openly looking to ask and answer the questions posed above, the situation will remain as it is today.

Instead, what the wholesale industry needs is transparency. If all the stakeholders in the relationship customer, wholesaler and supplier have visibility of performance in a controlled, web-based environment for example, the sector will rapidly start to see improvement.

By publicising performance by product category on a monthly basis, for example, customers may see best and worst supplier performance, as well as clear evidence of where the issues may lie within the logistics operation.

Driven by customer demand, the responsibility for improvement will be shared by wholesaler and supplier alike.

In simply changing the way the wholesale industry views the back door and opening itself up to performance-based transparency, everyone will benefit customer, supplier and wholesaler.

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