Life is more than a little unsettled for retail supply chain executives these days. Since the start of the year they've had to deal with rising commodity prices, oil prices that have sprinted past $100 a barrel, turmoil in the Middle East that impacts oil prices and poses a potential threat to transportation routes, and the earthquake and tsunami in Japan that is likely to impact the availability of electronic components and devices.
Several retailers have expressed mounting frustration over a lack of control when it comes to issues negatively impacting the supply chain. Still, they remain focused on managing through the mayhem, factoring unrest into their planning and, in particular, doing whatever they can to offset rising fuel costs - their No. 1 concern.
With margins, sourcing and transportation costs under increasing pressure as a result of spiking oil prices, retailers across the country are considering changes and weighing various options. Some are considering conversion to slower modes of transit. Other talk of increased use of consolidation or multi-stop pickups. They are quick to concede that all of these solutions either add time or cost to the supply chain, yet the consensus is that they don't expect to see fuel-price relief in the near future.
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