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8 in 10 retailers planning for growth but face operational challenges, survey finds

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UK retailers are positive about their growth prospects in the coming years, but face challenges to scale up operations to meet these ambitions, according to a new industry survey.

The study also highlighted that retailers see an opportunity to solve some of these supply chain issues by partnering with logistics firms, which offer shared-user facilities and technology.

New research from Wincanton, a supply chain partner for British business, found that 83% of UK retailers are planning for order volume growth over the next three years. The logistics firm said this demonstrates the resurgent confidence in UK retail and the strong opportunities in the sector, following a period of difficulties including those caused by the pandemic and Brexit.

However, the report stressed to achieve any such growth, there are several challenges that retailers will need to overcome. Some 89% of those surveyed reported that increased orders would negatively impact their ability to successfully fulfil customer orders.

While, 68% of respondents of the survey said that a shortage of good quality labour has negatively their ability to keep up with customer demand, and that labour concerns can prevent them from scaling up during peak demand.

Many retailers are also struggling to make the investment needed to modernise and implement robotics or automation in their operations. Some 61% of those surveyed said that investment in this area won’t be feasible in the next five years.

The data also showed a potential solution as shared-user facilities could help mitigate labour and investment issues. This would enable retailers to improve their supply chain flexibility, with seven in 10 agreeing that outsourcing fulfilment and logistics functions would make them more agile.

Furthermore, 69% agree that having access to a managed shared transport network would improve their ability to cope with fluctuations in demand.

Carl Moore, managing director of eFulfilment at Wincanton, said: “It’s fantastic news to hear that UK retailers are planning for growth, even against a backdrop that presents a number of challenges. Embracing more collaborative approaches to supply chains, such as shared warehousing and transport solutions, will go a long way towards making retailers more agile and able to achieve the growth they’re targeting.”

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