The supply chain development of retailers has been a prominent feature in the logistics arena since the 1980’s. The rise of a few dominant chains in many countries, particularly in food, but also sections of non-food such as DIY and indeed fashion, has produced a market place where the top 5 can control 80%+ of national sales. Saturation of home markets, particularly in Western Europe has resulted in internationalisation.

The large volumes and control of supply has seen the retail sector lead in a number of key logistics developments including;

  • Dedicated logistics operations, both warehouse and transport.
  • One stop shop with butchery, bakery, fruit & vegetables etc under one roof
  • Out of town locations with more frequent, just in time deliveries
  • Higher sales form lower inventory and wider ranges
  • Direct purchasing from suppliers in countries of origin from fashion to fruit
  • Private label brands, related product development and in-house design
  • Information systems development to meet the demands

Many retail markets can clearly be seen as Tier 1, Tier 2 and the rest, but recent trends towards internet shopping, home delivery, discounters and convenience shopping challenges that.

We have seen a number of issues as a result within the retail industry that effect the retailers themselves but also suppliers and logistics service providers.


  • Providing a service-driven logistics system for low cost, to support margins as competition on price increases, intervention at the right part of the supply chain. Forecasting sales to support high availability from low inventory across a range of store formats and locations
  • Multi-temperature ranges and how best to serve the store
  • Promotions and new product introduction. How to focus on these key strategies within normal processes.
  • Private label. How far to take vertical integration?
  • Short order lead times for suppliers with pressure on price and green initiatives


  • How to control and where to intervene on an import dominated supply chain
  • The need to control inventory and availability with the directly sourced extended supply chain. The use of VMI, Country of origin consolidation, Import de-consolidation
  • Supporting multi-channel across wide product ranges. So store and home delivery from a cushion to a bathroom suite.
  • Product range control, with the potential for larger ranges on-line than in store. The use of virtual stock, sell by sample, and order to sales.

Fashion and electrical

  • Consumer electronics has entered the world of fashion, with the short life cycle of mobile phones, computing and audio devices
  • Core and fashion. How to support a core range with more predictability at the same time as the fashion around it in ever increasing and shorter cycles
  • Agility in the supply chain, from production to delivery to support successful fasion items
  • Potential return of the supply base nearer to home
  • Competing with the on-line asset light offer, price and service

Graphene Partners has a range of skills and experience to support retailers, suppliers and LSPs to address these issues.