Understanding Retail Supply Chain Jobs

By: Mark Doherty

In the retail world, there are a number of push and pull factors that will keep customers coming in for more products. The price of a product is often the first thing that a customer will look at, at least after deciding that they have an interest in a particular product like jeans or a video game. However, price is not the only consideration for consumers. The quality of a product, the reusability of a product, and the assessment of its necessity by an individual customer all go into the decision making process. However, this line of thinking assumes that there is an adequate stock of products available to every consumer.

Graduates who are looking for a job should consider the fact that consumers take for granted that the products they want will be available upon demand. Certainly, intelligent graduates and young professionals understand that the retail outlet does not have a warehouse behind it or a corporate office in its basement. Products ranging from cell phones to jackets get to their final destination through a long and complex process referred to as the supply chain. The supply chain can be a convoluted idea to new graduates unfamiliar with the retail business. However, once a graduate understands retail supply chains and the professionals that facilitate them, it can become quite an appealing career prospect.

One aspect of the supply chain is strategic planning. Companies throughout the UK employ professionals to develop various strategic plans for a variety of products. For example, supply chain professionals will assess the sales numbers of a particular retail outlet that provides cell phone accessories. This professional may see that a certain color or brand of accessory is selling in higher numbers. The task of this strategic planner is to ensure that the supply chain facilitates the flexible movement of products to areas where they can be sold quickly.

Another aspect of the supply chain field that is important is in operations management. Supply chain professionals don't just look at the larger issues that affect sales but issues of getting the product from its raw state into something finished and marketable. Supply chain professionals are often tasked with assessing production methods and the smooth transition of raw materials brought into the workplace into finished products leaving for warehouses around the country. Strategic and operational planning are incredibly important positions and the right graduate in the UK can find success in these areas once they understand retail supply chains.

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