What Is Retail Consolidation & Is It Right for You? | C.H. Robinson

Handling ever-changing retailer requirements can be overwhelming—especially if you’re working with multiple retailers across the country or the world. Maintaining compliance with these rules requires a strategic approach. If you’re currently shipping less than truckload (LTL) or underutilized truckload freight, a retail consolidation program might be the answer you need.

What is a retail consolidation program?

Simply put, a retail consolidation program combines shipments to make the process of delivering into a retailer simpler and more efficient. This helps meet any retailer compliance programs that may exist.

Retailer compliance programs are unique to each company. These programs specify how shippers must set appointments, maintain on time delivery performance, and deliver in full. All activities that help the retailer improve efficiency, lower inventories, focus on an omni-channel approach, and respond most effectively to the consumer’s demands. It relies on having product available when and where the consumers want it.

A retail consolidation program helps you meet the standards set forth in a compliance program and eliminates unnecessary waste and expense from your supply chain.

How a strategic retail consolidation program works

In retail consolidation, a consolidator has an order level solution for less than truckload shipments—one that spans across multiple suppliers all delivering to the same retailer. Most programs include a consistent shipping schedule and alignment with lead time and retailer delivery expectations. The program should be fully compliant with the retailer’s expectations from ordering patterns, to appointment scheduling requirements, to on-time performance measurements.

For example, if your dock space is limited, a regular schedule through the consolidation program eliminates the need to accommodate pickups of small order quantities from multiple transportation providers.

You can send LTL or partial truckload shipments based on consolidation delivery schedules. Once ready to move, your products are sent to a consolidation center where they are optimized with deliveries from other shippers and delivered to retailers in time to meet tight delivery windows.

Top benefits of retail consolidation

While retail consolidation programs may improve the speed of delivery, that is not their only benefit. You might turn to retail consolidation to align with specific retailer compliance initiatives, improve your on time delivery performance, and add connectivity across supply chain partners (think manufacturing, suppliers, transportation providers, consolidator, and retailers). It’s also a solid cost-saving initiative for LTL/order level business. Many shippers also discover a reduction in total lead time, which in turn can reduce inventory carrying costs.

And because your products move more quickly off the books on a prepaid basis, you might notice an improved cash-to-cash cycle that leads to profits. These benefits can also add to your ability to precisely address metrics that retailers use to gauge performance, which leads to fewer missed delivery appointments and reduced out of stock incidents.

Why you should work with an experienced consolidator

The key to a successful retail consolidation program is high volumes of shipments, which is why retail consolidation works best when handled by an experienced consolidator who has substantial experience within the retail industry. This knowledge helps your consolidator understand requirements, initiatives, and behaviors of retailers.

C.H. Robinson already works with many established, well-known retailers. We can help you begin or enhance a retail consolidation program by combining your freight with freight from other companies who are also shipping to the same retailers. And because we operate globally, we have significant volumes to make consolidation efficient for you.

In addition, when you choose C.H. Robinson, know that our experts understand the compliance requirements. Often we add connectivity between retailers and customers—from appointments to business intelligence. Finally, we are able to provide global technology that helps simplify your transportation, reduce dock congestion, and increase visibility into your products in transit.

Is retail consolidation right for your business?

Shippers currently utilizing LTL, partial, or underutilized truckload service stand to gain the most from a retail consolidation program. If you can answer yes to one or more of these questions, a retail consolidation program may be the right opportunity for your business.

  1. Do you need to improve your compliance levels with retailers?
  2. Have your transportation costs for retail customers been increasing?
  3. Is your bottom line affected by out of stock items or compliance fines?
  4. Do you regularly schedule retail deliveries to multiple distribution centers?
  5. Is a lack of expertise, technology, or visibility negatively affecting communications with retailers?
  6. Do your shipment sizes and purchase orders vary?
  7. Would preferential appointment status help speed up your deliveries?
  8. Would you like your providers to have subject matter expertise specific to the retailers you serve?

What did your answers reveal about the needs of your supply chain? Contact one of our supply chain experts today to get started on your own retail consolidation program.