Sir: Waitrose’s increased focus on improving stock availability highlights the importance of a robust and agile supply chain (‘Waitrose makes improving availability its top priority,’). Visibility, communication and agility are paramount in today’s market.

The increasing prominence of multichannel strategies is driving the need for product availability, with retailers needing to accurately control stock levels between their brick-and-mortar and online offerings.

Retailers need to have close contact with their suppliers to ensure thorough understanding of the needs on both sides, and gain visibility of their entire supply chain in order to mitigate disruption.

By using advanced shipping notices (ASNs) to track orders, retailers can also gain an even more accurate view of their supply chain.

This enables the use of techniques like cross-docking and direct store delivery to drastically reduce delivery times and improve shelf life for perishables such as fruit and dairy, greatly improving availability.

Denise Oakley, international marketing director, GXS