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 the continued impact of COVID-19. It 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. Retailers are still dealing with supply chain ramifications, including turning untraditional spaces into warehouses, shipping direct to consumer, complications surrounding reverse logistics and the expense surrounding streamlining omnichannel operations. 

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

Liza Casabona Deputy Editor

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

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

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

American Eagle cuts SKUs, speeds delivery with supply chain transformation

• Published June 2, 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

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.

• Published Aug. 19, 2020

Adidas aims for DTC to be 50% of sales by 2025

A new strategy is predicated on doubling e-commerce sales, building up an athleisure offering and refocusing on women, among other things.

• Published March 11, 2021

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.

• Published Nov. 16, 2020

Home Depot, Lowe's build on supply chain foundations to make quick work of omnichannel

When the pandemic arrived around the same time as the home improvement retailers' busy spring season, they had to pivot to meet demand.

• Published March 29, 2021

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.

• Published Jan. 25, 2021

Walmart gives diverse suppliers option for early payment to help increase access to capital

• Published May 7, 2021

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.