Supply Chain Success
It is quite obvious that Mud Bay, Pet Business’ 2015 Retailer of the Year, is great at cultivating a difference-making staff and fiercely loyal customer base. As you will read in this month’s cover story, the pet specialty chain, which operates 33 stores in the Pacific Northwest, has based its entire retail model on the idea that it can (and should) deliver the best experience possible to its employees and shoppers, to great success.
What is less apparent, at least from the outside, is the crucial role that a well-developed supply chain strategy has played in Mud Bay’s success. The company uses a hybrid approach that utilizes a handful of pet industry distributors, as well as the chain’s own warehouse facilities, to not only ensure that its stores’ shelves are always well-stocked, but also provide its customers access to a wider range of products than can be housed in any single location.
According to Al Puntillo, Mud Bay’s chief merchandising officer, the company utilizes four distributors to supply products whenever possible—Animal Supply Company (ASC), Central Pet, Pet Food Experts and Independent Pet Supply. ASC serves as the chain’s main supplier—in fact, Puntillo describes the company as a “true business partner” to Mud Bay—with the other distributors filling in any gaps in its available selection.
Interestingly, Mud Bay also utilizes its distributor partners to deliver product from the chain’s own warehouse facilities to its stores. Of course, the distributors are compensated for these trucking services.
To keep the restocking process from being intrusive to shoppers, Mud Bay locations receive their product deliveries exclusively at night, when the stores are closed. These deliveries are made as often as three times per week—in some cases, even on Sundays—and product shipments are brought through the stores’ front entrance whenever possible to make filling the shelves easier.
Also making the process of restocking the shelves easier are the fixtures Mud Bay uses in many of its stores. In addition to beautifully displaying product, these fixtures also feature built-in storage, so excess inventory does not have to be stashed in a back room. This enables store associates to fill holes on the shelf by simply pulling stored product from underneath the fixture.
Of course, all of these elements of a well-oiled supply chain remain firmly behind the scenes, where they belong. Their impact on Mud Bay’s success, however, couldn’t be clearer.