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Retail supply chain

Courtesy of DHL

Note from the editor

Traditional retail supply chains have been disrupted by the rise of new distribution and fulfillment channels. Delivery times are faster, stores are becoming online fulfillment centers and many retailers are considering how to pull last-mile delivery in house. These modern challenges have been layered on top of the already complicated traditional supply chains that have kept goods moving to brick-and-mortar stores and into consumers' hands for generations. And that was before a global pandemic complicated both back- and front-end operations for retailers.

In this collection of features, Retail Dive looks at how the COVID-19 pandemic upended some trends, and dramatically accelerated others to further disrupt the flow of goods from manufacturers and suppliers through retailers to consumers. 

The COVID-19 pandemic dealt a harsh hand to the retail industry, first disrupting supply chains overseas and then by 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, how to order for an unpredictable future and what to do with returns as more purchases move online.  

The only thing certain for the moment is that nothing is certain. 

Liza Casabona Managing Editor

The strategy behind turning department stores into warehouses

Rumors circulated about Amazon converting vacant mall space into fulfillment centers — a move experts say would round out its omnichannel approach.

4 elements of the next phase of last-mile delivery

The technologies to move retail delivery forward already exist. The next step is fully weaving last-mile services into the retail landscape.

Retail suppliers are still under strain — and it could hurt everyone

Stores are open, but vendors face longer payment terms and financial uncertainty.

How Sephora prepped for an e-commerce onslaught

With its biggest sale of the year last April, the retailer was ready for surging volume when stores closed that March, SVP for Supply Chain Mike Racer said.

Suppliers feel retail's pain, too

As retailers canceled orders and held payments, their vendors were stretched for cash, making hard decisions and worried about what might come next.

COVID-19 changed the stakes for e-commerce. Do fulfillment networks need to change too?

​The pandemic that cratered demand for discretionary goods and upped screen time has changed the risk calculus for online operations.

After COVID-19, is curbside delivery here to stay?

The need for contactless fulfillment is spurring retailers of all sizes and categories to pursue new pickup options that could last.

The implications of shipping direct to consumer

On top of high costs, fast and free delivery expectations, and returns, brands also put customer retention at risk by forfeiting control over the last mile.

COVID-19's impact on retail supply chain

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
  • How Sephora prepped for an e-commerce onslaught
  • The strategy behind turning department stores into warehouses
  • After COVID-19, is curbside delivery here to stay?
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.