All Articles Food Changing the game with customized supply chain solutions

Changing the game with customized supply chain solutions

4 min read


Donnie Burris, CEO of Burris Logistics

This post is sponsored by Burris Logistics.

Donnie Burris became the CEO of Burris Logistics in 2010, and before becoming CEO, Burris had worked throughout the organization. As a fifth generation member of his family’s team, he’s worked for the company for more than 20 years. Burris is passionate about providing high-quality supply chain solutions, “WOW Service” to customers and a culture where team members feel like they’re with family. In this Q&A, he talks about the demands on food retailers and how customized supply chain management solutions can help solve some of these issues.

 Question: How are consumer demands in the perishables department impacting the demands placed on food retailers?

Donnie Burris: Increased demand for healthy, fresh, prepared foods and rapidly expanding SKU levels can affect retailers in several ways. Some common challenges in expanding perishable offerings would likely include: physical store layouts and equipment, increased regulatory compliance, food safety management and a host of cold chain/supply chain complexities.

As store level operations become more complex, workforce skill levels have intensified.  The blurred lines between foodservice and retail offerings call for a higher level of food preparation talent and food safety assurance within the store. Store layouts, especially with respect to food preparation areas, refrigerated displays and temperature-controlled storage, are costly and not easily planned or executed. These store-level challenges can be daunting in themselves, without factoring in the complexities further up the perishable supply chain.

The technical expertise and capital required to get the fresh supply chain right is substantial. Supply chain execution with perishables ideally optimizes speed to shelf capabilities, efficiency, on-shelf availability and minimizes in-store shrink. This requires enhanced management in demand planning, end-to-end cold chain integrity, expedited deliveries and all the activities up-stream from point of production to store with speed to shelf agility.

Q: How can customized supply chain solutions help?

DB: Every retailer has unique supply chain needs, which are constantly changing.  Accordingly, a customized solution is unique to each client, dynamic and built for constant improvement. Many retailers procure products through the traditional wholesale distributor model and others self-distribute. For the retailers who utilized traditional wholesalers, a customized solution can provide many of the benefits of self-distribution – such as increased control and reduced costs – without the up-front capital burden, expertise and on-going expenses of managing such an operation. However, customized solutions can also help retailers in self-distribution through a more supplemental and complimentary approach.

We look to add value to each situation through collaboration and a true partnership development process. Our partners leverage our more than 90 years of experience, physical assets and highly specialized work teams to provide solutions built to perform and last.

We bring the cold chain expertise, best of class IT and demand planning tools, procurement teams, refrigerated warehousing and dedicated fleets, and all these up-stream tools without the capital burden. This allows the retailer to focus on all the in-store needs – what they do best – and outsource the rest.

Q: What are some examples of solutions that customers of Burris Logistics have leveraged?

DB: We operate at all points of the cold chain and provide diverse solutions for shippers, processors and retailers. We excel in providing solutions to the more complex situations. We focus on customers’ unique needs and collaborate with them to form solutions.

Examples include: comprehensive full-service distribution solutions involving procurement and Burris-owned but client-dedicated inventories, in-bound logistics management, distribution centers and dedicated fleets providing daily store door deliveries. Many of these solutions now utilize multi-temp fleets.

Other examples of retail distribution solutions provided on a smaller scale could be limited to a specific category such as frozen, bakery or meats. We have also provided some unique solutions with partners for regional consolidated inventories. Recently, a retail partner was experiencing increased in-store shrink within a specific category. We worked with them to reduce inventory and increase SKU velocity.

On our end, we continue to work everyday to increase our capabilities and improve our processes and systems to become more adaptive and agile for our partners facing these challenges.  When a customer is faced with a challenge, we always want to be prepared for, and able to, respond to their needs. We are truly grateful to our partners and are dedicated to their continued success.

Burris Logistics, based in Milford, Del., provides high-quality, customized supply chain solutions with an emphasis on frozen and refrigerated products. Burris Logistics has 1,800 team members, 17 distribution centers, a fleet of 250 trucks and annual sales in excess of $3 billion.