By definition, successful retailers are very good at logistics.
“Compared with other industries, retailers are a benchmark of logistical efficiency for moving items through their distribution channels and on to shelves in a timely way,” said Jim Griffin, senior VP sales, PODS, whose detached delivery system allows placement of containers in tough-to-reach and hard-to-fit locations.
Griffin spoke with Chain Store Age about how logistics efficiency can add to a retailer’s bottom line.
What are some of the most common challenges retailers face when it comes to logistics (moving and storage)?
Common problems can include moving important items that need to be routed to their stores in a time-sensitive way, special or new merchandising units, or seasonal displays and special operational support equipment. These types of ‘unique items’ can create inefficiency and error and often end up being mishandled, misplaced or damaged in that process.
How does PODS help retailers with these challenges?
In essence, PODS is a mobile on-demand warehouse that can handle, in many cases, a retailer’s special items and/or initiatives that require moving and storing more effectively than the company’s own logistical systems — and with far less damage, more control and at a lower total cost than traditional third-party truck and fixed warehouse logistical providers.
With over 160,000 containers spread across our network of local and regional storage centers in North America, PODS is an innovator and a leading provider of containerized solutions. Our extensive footprint and dedicated fleets of local and long-distance trucks often provide a level of flexibility at a much lower cost than traditional third-party logistical suppliers. This is especially true when the items require more careful handling of the materials and when time is of the essence. We can place the containers virtually anywhere with our patented, level-loading PODS container lifting system, known as ‘Podzilla.’ We easily support the logistical flow of the retailer.
How does PODS help retailers with new store openings, resets and renovations?
By bringing our dedicated PODS commercial team into the early planning of their events, we develop cost-effective, customized solutions, which enable the retailer to complete the projects often with less damage and usually with better labor and time management control. Here are just a few ways: Retailers can ‘kit,’ or combine, materials into PODS containers in advance of the project, and the materials for these events can be pre-positioned in our network and then scheduled for delivery on short notice whenever the individual stores are ready.
Using PODS also helps a retailer reduce the number of ‘touches’ of the materials and quite often lowers the amount of required labor time to implement because of the ‘on-demand’ nature of our model. For many of our retail customers, the reduced damage savings alone justify the switch to using PODS.
What about disaster and emergency responses?
We pre-position critical disaster supplies and materials in our network and get them to the affected areas often more quickly than alternative methods. Many retailers contract with us to bring containers directly to any of their stores that are damaged in an emergency. Our storage centers provide warehousing until repairs can be made to the impacted facilities. Depending on a retailer’s individualized recovery plan, our commercial customized PODS solution provides a more effective and lower cost alternative.
Logistically, how does PODS move its containers?
With more than 400 storage facilities and warehouse locations spread across the United States and Canada, PODS uses a hub-and-spoke model. Our dedicated fleet of flatbed trucks moves longer distances, and then our fleet of local delivery trucks handles the last-mile needs of our customers. Our container-tracking capabilities allow us to advise customers of where their containers are in our system at any time. We control our entire network and ensure gentle handling, while keeping the containers level at all times, which dramatically reduces damage versus traditional carriers.
What do you see as the biggest advantage PODS offers retailers?
Our innovative PODS commercial team brings expertise to retailers’ moving and storage needs, working with them to cost-effectively gain strategic advantages over their competitors.
One of our retail customers used PODS to stay ahead of competitors by opening new locations faster. A leading fashion retailer utilized PODS for moving and storage, which allowed it to afford to update its key category merchandising every other year. And our logistics allowed the retailer to cost-effectively update more often versus the three-to-four-year model previously used with traditional methods of trucks and 3PL suppliers.
Other retailers have gained significant cost and time improvements, which enables them to keep their stores looking fresher and more contemporary than their competitors.