Supermarket shortage of 1-pint milk – Importance of supply chain

Shortage of 1-pint milk

It appears that over the past few weeks, several supermarket chains across the south coast of England and online retailers delivering to that area appear to have withdrawn the sale of one-pint milk bottles. A store representative informed Mytaxhelper that they were suffering a supply chain breakdown and the distribution of 1pint milk is likely to be available to consumers in the very near future.

(Tesco, Hove. 22 Nov 2020) (Morrisons, Amazon. 2 Nov 2020)

Supply Chain

Supply chain management is a key factor to the success of many small businesses. There is now rising consumer expectation to have their required goods and services available as and when they need it. This is something often described as the “Amazon Effect”. Amazon have raised expectations of how quickly products can be delivered and how cheaply.

Small business must plan and anticipate in advance the products and services that are likely to be their key sellers in the short/ medium term. They must then manage their supply chains to ensure these products are in stock to sell when their consumers most need it.

Often this is manageable using tools such as profit and loss forecasting and seasonal sales variation reviews. Sometimes it is difficult to anticipate supplier needs in advance, as we found in early 2020 when UK and other countries faced a shortage of toilet papers. In September 2020, The Guardian reported that “toilet paper sales roxse by more than a fifth amid new UK covid-19 restrictions”. In March 2020 CNBC reported that UK hand sanitisers sales grew 255% vs prior year. Due to the stress of increase demand in their supply chain, Boots implemented a limit of two hand sanitisers per person purchase across 2465 stores.

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