Upstream Focus is Sourcing Journal’s series of conversations with suppliers, associations and sourcing professionals to get their insights on the state of sourcing, innovations in manufacturing and how to improve operations. In this Q&A, Berthold Reinke, vice president business development and sales consumer products at Arvato Supply Chain Solutions, discusses how his company is planning for uncertainties and why retailers should consolidate their inventory across channels.
Name: Berthold Reinke
Title: Vice president business development and sales, consumer products
Company: Arvato Supply Chain Solutions
What is the number one question you get from your apparel clients now that was never really a consideration before?
Often the issue is peak capacity. Therefore, the most common question from our customers is: How much throughput capacity can we insure for peak season and special days, such as Singles’ Day or Black Friday?
What is the main thing brands and retailers could do (or stop doing) right now that would immediately improve logistics?
This is a tough question. I would recommend brands and retailers to improve planning and segregation of campaigns to split the peak volumes.
Given the rollercoaster of demand and shipment volumes during the pandemic, how are you adapting your operations to better prepare for and react to uncertainty?
There are several areas we are addressing to be better prepared and able to respond to uncertainties. First, we are ensuring labor availability by more intense planning and additional incentives. We are also paying attention to the available capacity for outbound carrier or last-mile carrier and aligning our planning accordingly. Furthermore, we are defining new operational rules for the workforce in operations to reduce the risk of a potential Covid-19 spread.
Which piece of technology or innovation have you found most useful during this time?
In today’s world, a modern workplace that allows people with critical functions to work remotely to reduce impact and ensure availability during lockdowns and restricted periods is very important.
Resiliency has become a buzzword since the disruption caused by the pandemic. What could brands and retailers do right now to immediately start preparing for the next unforeseen event?
At Arvato Supply Chain Solutions, we have defined four segments to improve supply chain resilience: cloud-based IT, automation such as AutoStore, network design with backup sites, and digital solutions to improve remote work and management.
What should be brands’ and retailers’ top lesson from Covid? How can they address this in their operations?
In my opinion, it is important to ensure consolidation of inventory for different channels, so retail allocated inventory can be shifted to e-commerce inventory. This will help secure stock for online sales and reduce obsolescence ratio if retail closes. It would also be helpful to combine logistics operations through new features such as ship-from-store or click-and-collect.
What’s one piece of pending legislation that should be on fashion firms’ radar? How can companies proactively prepare for this potential policy?
An important issue could be sustainability to reduce environmental impact. For example, it would be crucial to optimize packaging in order to recycle it and use less material.
The Trump administration’s trade policies tended toward protectionism. What tone is the Biden administration striking when it comes to trade?
As Arvato, we do not comment on any policy direction and/or alignment. But in my view, free trade has always been beneficial on a global level.
What keeps you up at night?
What keeps me up at night is that our children are not well protected during this Covid-19 pandemic. Moreover, digital learning should become mandatory for all schools worldwide.
What makes you most optimistic?
There is enough intelligence in this world. I believe we will find solutions and answers to the most important impacts on global civilization in most cases.