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The Weakest Links

PG explores five areas of the supply chain that are causing headaches for retailers and what may be done to reinforce them.

Throughout history, circus and carnival strongmen have broken chains in their shows as an ultimate demonstration of power. Indeed, chains are strong devices that aren’t broken easily, and certainly not without a lot of effort.

Yet there’s also a famous proverb: “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.”

In the food retailing industry, retailers and manufacturers alike have been challenged recently with their own weak links — areas that threaten to bring dissatisfaction, or, at the worst, harm, to consumers, and also directly block their paths to profitability and growth. Factors such as food safety, competition, the growth of online retailing, and headaches in transportation and logistics are perplexing supply chain executives more than ever before.

Luckily, the industry’s leading trade groups are keeping these issues top of mind to help the industry manage conflict as best it can. Yet CEOs and other leading executives have a major role to play in pinpointing their weakest links and managing risk before their supply chains experience major disruptions. In fact, sometimes the most vulnerable areas reveal themselves in the forms of poor communication and execution, or inexperienced management.

Progressive Grocer spoke with several executives in the trenches of the grocery supply chain, while also examining the new “State of the Retail Supply Chain” report published by the Arlington, Va.-based Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), to get a better sense of the weakest links. Here are the five that came up time and time again.

Read more here.

July 17, 2015