Inside retail supply chains

Courtesy of DHL

Note from the editor

The COVID-19 pandemic has been hitting retail supply chains hard. When it first began, there was lack of demand to contend with. Then, as consumers returned to some of their old purchasing habits, it became way too much demand for a system that was trying to recover. It's upended some trends and dramatically accelerated others to further disrupt the flow of goods from manufacturers and suppliers through retailers to consumers.

Retailers are still dealing with supply chain ramifications, including major bottlenecks, complications around reverse logistics and the expense of streamlining omnichannel operations. Retailers chartered their own ships to secure holiday merchandise for 2021 and changed their approach in other areas of the business to make up for potential stockouts.

There's no doubt that more supply chain disruptions are on the way, but how things will shake out is yet to be seen. The only thing certain for the moment is that nothing is certain. 

'This is the time where supply chain comes to the fore': Under Armour's COO on 20 months of tumult

Colin Browne says the pandemic sped up operational changes already underway at the sportswear brand.

• Published Dec. 6, 2021

The omnichannel age is here — and it's expensive

Store pickup of online orders grew by triple digits amid the pandemic. Retailers are now scrambling to become more efficient sellers across channels.

• Published April 5, 2021

'We're going to see a lot of bare shelves': Retail preps for a holiday beset by supply chain pain

Bottlenecks from factories to cargo ships mean fewer goods on shelves and fewer discounts for the season.

• Published Oct. 4, 2021

It's a ho ho horrible shipping season for small businesses, too

Local makers have been preparing for complex holiday logistics. But a shorter supply chain may give them an edge.

• Published Nov. 1, 2021

'You can pay or you can wait': How retailers are navigating a shipping crisis

Consumer demand came raging back this year. The supply chain wasn't ready for it, and now retailers, brands and consumers are paying the price.

• Published Aug. 2, 2021

How the case for drone delivery expanded beyond parcels

Parcel-carrying drones haven't filled the skies yet. But some are taking on last-mile deliveries couriers can't do as efficiently.

• Published Oct. 5, 2021

Don't make it free, don't make it easy: How retailers can support sustainable returns

Consumers returned $428 billion in merchandise last year. Retailers need to change systems for the sake of the environment and the bottom line.

• Published April 19, 2021

'Real pressure on supply chains': How major players are balancing costs, speed and a new retail world

Executives from PVH, Under Armour, Dollar General, Tractor Supply and American Eagle spoke about current challenges at NRF's Retail Converge.

• Published July 6, 2021

How the pandemic drove retailers to on-demand warehousing

A pivot to holding more inventory, rising warehouse rents and Amazon's decision to limit its fulfillment service all played a role.

• Published April 12, 2021

RFID's e-commerce growth spurt

The need for visibility drove companies to invest in solutions for their complete supply chain while Adidas is using the technology to verify provenance.

• Published May 5, 2021

COVID-19's impact on retail supply chains

The COVID-19 pandemic dealt a harsh hand to the retail industry, between disrupting supply chains overseas, sinking demand for discretionary goods in the U.S. and forcing stores to temporarily close. Retailers are still dealing with those ramifications, including complicated decisions around inventory and handling returns as more purchases move online. 

included in this trendline
  • Under Armour's COO on 20 months of tumult
  • How the case for drone delivery expanded beyond parcels
  • 'Real pressure on supply chains': How major players are balancing costs, speed and a new retail world
Our Trendlines go deep on the biggest trends. These special reports, produced by our team of award-winning journalists, help business leaders understand how their industries are changing.
Davide Savenije Editor-in-Chief at Industry Dive.