Supply Chain Stages: where do our products come from?

In an age of online shopping it’s very easy to forget the processes involved in getting products delivered to your door or local shop – one click of a button and the next day you can be enjoying your new purchase… But what steps do our goods go through to get to us? There are 4 main stages to the supply chain model; from the initial manufactured products, through to the transportation of goods ready for distribution, and finally, to the retailer ready for sale to the consumer.

Stage 1: Manufacturing

The first stage of this process involves the manufacturing of goods. The producer will assemble or transform materials into a developed product. Suppliers will source and provide the raw materials, goods or services required to create a product within the factory and production will begin. Products can be manufactured in various ways, tailored to the requirements of the brand: Mass, Batch, One-off and Continuous.

Stage 2: Distribution– Logistics and Transportation

The next step is to have the finished products distributed to Warehouses and Distribution Centres across the globe. Goods will be transported via Air, Road, Ocean and Rail from the factory site to destination; the mode of transport is dependent on the terminus. Logistics ensures that the product moves through the supply chain efficiently within scheduled timings. Before arriving at their destination, products will be required to pass through Customs, ensuring they adhere to strict product guidelines and the correct tariff is paid.

Stage 3: Retail

The goods are then stored at warehouses before they are distributed out to the relevant wholesalers and retail stores, transported by delivery drivers across the country. Goods arrive at the retailers ready to be stocked on the shelves and sold to the public. Before this process the products will be stock-checked and quality assured to ensure they are in top condition before sale. The retailer will liaise with the brand’s head office to work with merchandising, HR, finance and marketing in order to get the best coverage for the company.

Stage 4: Shopper – Online or Instore

The products have now finally reached the stage at which the consumer can begin the shopping process. This can be done one of two ways; ordering online or shopping instore. Nowadays almost all retailers will have an online presence allowing you to click and collect instore or have your goods delivered to your address, allowing you to bring the shopping experience to the comfort of your home! Ecommerce is taking over the way we traditionally shop and is becoming one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy.

Changes to the traditional Supply Chain Model?

With the growth of online orders, the supply chain model has had to develop and has greatly accelerated in order to keep up with quick changes. The speed at which the goods arrive in warehouses and get distributed has rapidly increased due to the high demand of the next day delivery option. The basic principles remain the same but with technology now leading the way, providing us with automated warehouses and robotics in fulfilment centres, the process is likely to only get quicker, bringing more success to the businesses that can keep up… and failure to those that can’t!

Written by Emma Bray – Recruitment Consultant at Alchemy Global Talent Solutions