Distribution insights of Albert Heijn during Covid-19 crisis

27 March 2020

We recently spoke to Bas Kaper, Supermarket Manager at Albert Heijn Blekersvaart. We asked him four questions regarding the distribution of products during the Covid-19 crisis.

  • What impact has the crisis regarding Covid-19 on the delivery of specific product types and the supply chain?

The impact that Covid-19 has on us is the fact that suddenly specific products were extremely high demanded. Distribution centres and suppliers are very pressured because of this. Normally, the distribution centres work with a 12-hour schedule. However, the sudden extremely high demand of products caused the distribution centres to run out of products extremely fast. Furthermore, this results in the increasing demand of truck drivers, suppliers and transport. The suppliers have to spread their distribution over multiple channels, not only the Netherlands. Therefore, suppliers cannot handle the sudden extremely high demand of specific products. Also, the announcement of the Dutch government on Sunday March 15 regarding shutting down the hospitality industry had an impact on the difficulties we are currently dealing with. Normally, supermarkets would be happy because it means more revenue for us. However, this time we thought; oh no, not on top of the issues we already have.

  • With which problems are you dealing once deliveries differ?

One of the problems we run into is if the deliveries deviate, it can go two ways. One; more sales so the products go out of stock and two; certain products do not sell and you get stuck with it. Due to the mass hysteria, we have got a shortage of products in this case.

  • What is the difference between the logistic process before the coronavirus and now?

One of the main differences is that before the coronavirus, we were assured of stable sales that could be predicted based on history. Normally, days like Easter and Kingsday are already calculated beforehand because you have knowledge and insights about the demand of products at these times. Sudden sales means that we do not only need more products but this also results in the fact that truck drivers have to drive more and employees have to come to unload and load the truck at deviating working hours. The pressure on distribution centres and transport has increased enormously. Trucks from suppliers, for example Grand Italia, are now also being sent directly to our store to provide us with the products.

  • How do you communicate with the distribution centre to stay informed about the developments?

Due to the crisis we live from day to day, we have decided to have conference calls three times a day. This means that I am calling with six other stores. They provide me with information about deliveries and delivery issues. I collect this information and discuss it twice a day with my manager. He is in direct contact with the management and they are, on their turn, in direct contact with the management of logistics. Problems within logistics are discussed several times a day with distribution centres to stay as up to date as possible.

We want to thank Bas for his time and his insights about the supply chain and delivery of our daily needs during these uncertain times. We hope better times will come soon. Would you like to share your own story with us? Please contact us via info@foodsciencescommunity.com or +31(23)7548660.


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