Supply chain visibility platform FourKites announced Wednesday that its retail customer base has been experiencing unprecedented growth within a number of key industry metrics.

The company found that over the past six months, its retail customer base grew by 20% with a shipment increase in North America of 77%, 52% in Europe and 158% in Asia-Pacific.

“I think it’s obvious there has been a lot of disruption [worldwide] since COVID created manufacturing challenges,” said Glenn Koepke, senior vice president of customer success at FourKites, in an interview with FreightWaves. “Network visibility has created a level of collaboration people have dreamed about. This constant, real-time collaboration has supply chain teams working together versus the carrot-and-stick approach.”

The retail industry has seen exponential growth, with an overall 16.4% year-over-year growth for the first quarter of the year, including a consumer behavior shift to e-commerce that is now handling 16% of all retail sales. FourKites experienced this shift with a 67% growth in LTL shipments and 152% growth in parcel shipments over the past six months.

Photo: This FreightWaves SONAR chart shows the growth of retail sales within the United States over the past five years.
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In order for the company’s retailers to scale this growth effectively, FourKites customers have used new applications, including its Retail Manager and Merchandiser App, to manage labor, shipment volume and final-mile deliveries.

These tools provide value-added services like direct store delivery tracking and network visibility for better collaboration on inbound shipments and an appointment manager to help with back-room operations.

“A lot of the core components of our robust platform are designed to be very simple and easy to use,” said Koepke. “Usually standard retailers only control about half of the freight that comes into their warehouse network. Grocery retailers on average have about 2,000 suppliers, but they only control half of those vendors. By creating this kind of visibility layer for this giant black hole, your warehousing network can run smoothly and efficiently. We have added the ability to have an app-based experience versus an online website to manage your back room and that kind of innovation is a big reason why our retail customers have been working with us.”

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