How to Outsource Retail Logistics

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Retailers are well attuned to the changing dynamics of consumer buying habits and the strategies necessary to ensure their supply chain can match inventory to demand. But ensuring product is staged in the right places at the right times is only part of the challenge; engaging the eye of the captive shopper with strategically placed product displays and storefronts keeps inventory moving and business growing.

Retailers intent on maintaining or gaining competitive market share are constantly looking for ideal locations to open new store fronts as well as remodeling existing locations with new fixtures and display cabinets, fitting rooms, and service areas. They might also introduce revised branding schemes through updated floor coverings, wall dÈcor, and signage. The retail outlet is a revolving door spinning to the whim of customer preference and convenience.

But managing retail fixture movement presents an entirely different supply fulfillment paradigm—one that doesn't necessarily integrate with general merchandise flow because of greater variability and the special care required in delivering, then setting up fixtures and displays.

Businesses typically include fixtures in their interior store designs, which are drafted by store planners, designers, or architects. These blueprints may then be shared among numerous parties (real estate, construction, consultants, public relations, and advertising) in addition to the vendors and transportation providers charged with managing the delivery.

With so many non-transportation vendors involved in the process, the number of variables increases dramatically as retailers consider necessary due diligence for moving forward with a retail logistics project: "What carrier/provider do I use?"; "What market rates for capacity are available?"; and "How do I handle fixture inventory from production to installation?"

Getting a new retail outlet up and running requires a collaborative effort that often leaves retailers outsourcing project management to third-party intermediaries. From providing "pop-up" warehouse space to locating carrier capacity, outsourcing retail logistics can be a big sell for growing businesses.

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