trader joe's

Delivering product to Trader Joe’s can be challenging for CPGs that do not wield an efficiently optimized logistics function or experience in working with the grocer. Like many in the industry, Trader Joe’s has specific delivery requirements that its suppliers must meet in order to create a mutually beneficial partnership.

The retailer has become an increasingly popular chain, rising to prominence over the past several decades. Though far from a big box, Trader Joe’s is a fixture in the grocery space.

Even though the company does not tout as stringent a program as Walmart’s OTIF, it still expects suppliers to meet appointment times and delivery standards. Those suppliers that cannot meet these expectations will see fines, fees, or unprofitable short-term relationships with grocery stores.

We are here to break down what you need to master delivery into the retailer’s various distribution centers. But first, let’s take a look at a bit of background.

Background About Trader Joe’s 

The company launched its first branded store in Pasadena, California, in the 1960s. Since then, the grocer has expanded beyond the West Coast, opening its first stores in the Boston area in the 1990s. Following the success of these locations, Trader Joe’s has opened 530 storefronts throughout the United States.

With an impressive selection of specialty products, the retailer is an essential customer for mid-sized CPG brands. As a supplier, your organization must build a supply chain set to handle the needs of your most crucial retailer relationships. If you are working extensively with Trader Joe’s, it is critical to understand how to deliver successfully to the grocery outlet.

Working with Trader Joe’s as a Supplier

Trader Joe’s is known for its successful supply chain strategy. Part of that lies in its selective-SKU count. According to an MIT Sloan study, the retailer operates with about 2,000 SKUs in a specific store, which is in direct contrast to larger retailers that operate with roughly 30,000. That means brands working with the grocer have little margin for error since competition fierce among the small sample of brands.

It also requires all suppliers to arrange delivery to one of its regional distribution centers. They do not use customer pick-up options or direct-to-store delivery. Instead, brands must schedule a strictly set appointment time at one of their distribution centers to ensure their product is in their network by its intended due date.

These appointments are usually difficult to schedule because of the massive inflow of deliveries the company’s distribution centers must accommodate. It is not uncommon to not be able to schedule a delivery appointment until well after your order’s due date.

Though it grants suppliers a wider-than-average delivery window and grace period, Trader Joe’s requires extensive knowledge of receivers and appointment times to correctly transport your product to their distribution centers.

You may need to work with both your buyer and the distribution center to arrange a delivery that suits your production schedule and transportation capabilities.

How a Retail Specialized Logistics Provider Can Help Your Organization with Trader Joe’s 

Even though Trader Joe’s may not be as challenging to work with as some of its bigger box peers, it is still difficult for brands that do not have a mastery of their retail supply chain strategy.

Meeting pre-arranged order due dates takes time and operational bandwidth, which can be too short in supply to work with the retailer correctly. Scheduling and rescheduling appointment times and working with your buyer to set up optimal delivery schedules can be a difficult undertaking without a fully staffed and dedicated logistics department.

Additionally, even if you can handle the influx of communication to set appointment times that can be met, these might not be optimal for the disparate pieces of your organization. A retail-focused logistics provider can assist you in creating production and transportation schedules that work in sync. This synergistic supply chain approach can help you lower costs, increase efficiency, and better your Trader Joe’s relationship.

Moreover, a good logistics partner can provide expert consultation on your logistics network, making suggestions for optimal warehousing placement, consolidation opportunities, and implementing pool distribution strategies that are integral in acing your retail relationships.

Zipline Logistics Works with Brands to Create a Supply Chain Differentiation Strategy 

If you have just started working with Trader Joe’s or have recently begun expanding your sales with the company, it may be beneficial for you to work with a retail specialized logistics partner.

Successfully, consistently delivering to Trader Joe’s takes a thorough understanding of the retailer’s logistics requirements.

Simply scheduling transport into one of their distribution centers is not an effective long-term strategy for working with the grocery.

You must create an effective plan to ensure that orders are not subject to fines and are aligned with the remainder of your organization. Production functions that are out of sync are not only inefficient. They can also be a source of money left on the table.

Since over 95 percent of our orders end up on a retail shelf, we understand what it takes to ensure your product arrives at its destination as intended and on time.

We work with customers to manage their retail orders to create cost-reduction and performance-enhancing supply chain strategies.

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