Delivery for Small-Format Stores: What MIT Found

Delivering goods to small-format stores – particularly those that require refrigerated or frozen goods – is not the same as getting them to larger outlets.

Recent research by MIT studeDelivery Trucknts (detailed here) looked at optimal multi-temperature delivery strategies for small stores, which are growing in popularity. What did they find?

  • Mixing ambient, refrigerated and frozen products in multi-temperature delivery trailers – delivering to multiple stores can reduce the number of stops required, reducing cost-per-pallet and delivering higher trailer utilization rates and higher delivery frequency.
  • The second-best option was using multi-temperature trailers dedicated to a single store.
  • Single-temperature trailers making multiple stops was the least cost-effective option.
  • In the words of Supply Chain Management Review, “smaller volumes, longer distances, and more frequent deliveries increased the benefits of using multi-temperature trailers for delivery.”

What does that mean? On a micro level, the SCMR piece speaks to strategies that can benefit a relatively limited number of large retailers. In the bigger picture, however, this study speaks to one of our favorite topics at ATS: Innovation. The world of logistics and supply chain management is changing rapidly – yearly, monthly, even weekly. Doing things the way they’ve always been done, just because they’ve always been done that way, isn’t a recipe for success. Pay attention to how things are changing and the amazing technology becoming available every day, and you’ll be in position to do your best work today and into the future.