As the lockdown in the UK continues, panic buying seems to have subsided.
This has resulted in supermarket shelves returning to normal and stock levels
stabilising. It has also allowed logistics firms such as Boughey Distribution
to take stock and evaluate the state of play.
The recent lockdown and virus crisis have been a challenging time for us,
as we worked around the clock to stay ahead of the curve in delivering our
customers’ products to retailers. Some supermarket outlets scaled back their
offering, to only stock the essentials. Instead of dozens or varieties of
products, they were reduced to some core varieties that would fulfil customer
needs and demand. However, this was at the cost of other items, that would have
otherwise been included on the shelves. Demand for some items, especially
long-life items such as pasta, or baking products like flour, has soared and
far outstripped supply.
A vital link
Many of Boughey’s clients in its warehousing and distribution operations in the UK are smaller businesses, that rely on that vital connection of having their products sold in supermarkets. They can be based all over the country, but Boughey’s hub anchors their supply chain and centralises their distribution to customers. Boughey is both able to get these products into supermarkets, but also via its e-commerce offering, directly to customers. A big plus has been that supermarkets have been able to remain open throughout the lockdown as essential stores. This has enabled food and drink brands to remain relevant and retain turnover, so even the smaller businesses have had an outlet for their wares.
Tastes have changed during lockdown too, with buying habits becoming divergent. Some households have been just buying the essentials – in these financially uncertain times, they are wary of overspending and sticking strictly to their budget. Others have been more willing to try something new, as they are confined to their homes and missing such leisure activities as eating out, or socialising. They may be more willing to try new food products they may have seen but never tried, which works in favour of newer companies trying to break into markets. Closely monitoring stock levels, which Boughey is able to do, ensures there is always product on the shelves.
As more – defined as non-essential – shops reopen again, there may be more competition for supermarkets again from shops at a local level. So it’s important that they retain their customers in the long-term. Plenty of people will have been shopping in supermarkets for convenience, and once a week. As the lockdown eases in some of the UK’s nations, it means more people are venturing out. This may change their spending patterns again and supermarkets need to ensure their supply closely reflects customer demand even more so in the future.
Of the Home Nations, Wales and Scotland have much tighter restrictions on
movement still in place, although supermarkets are still open. Boughey’s
capabilities have been tested to the full and its BougheyNET system and staff
have been working flat out to meet demand. Our trucks have been travelling the
length and breadth of Britain, to keep supermarkets and other retailers’
reserves topped up. Our customers would expect nothing less of us.