don’t just exist on the shop floor, behind the scenes are some hardworking staff making sure stores have something to sell in the first place.
Interested in stepping away from the shop floor and into distribution? Then working in a supply chain is perfect for you…
So, what will I actually be doing?
Helping to transfer products from the manufacturers and suppliers right to the retail door, this vital role makes sure shops remain fully stocked and business.
There are a range of job titles available in supply chains, and if you start in a junior role your daily duties may include:
- Planning delivery timetables
- Ensuring stores have enough stock
- Making sure suppliers have enough stock to meet demand
- Overseeing the ordering and packaging process
- Monitoring stock levels
- Tracking products through depots to make sure they arrive at their destination
- Overseeing arrival of shipments
Once you’ve got some work experience behind you, you’ll be ready for a supervisor or even management role, where you’re given more responsibilities to keep you busy. You’ll be expected to:
- Monitor and motivate staff
- Ensure targets are met
- Recruit and train staff
Overseeing the distribution process every step of the way, you’ll also be keeping an eye on staff to make sure the products are not only stored correctly but dispatched on time too.
A very hands-on role, you’ll need to enjoy working in large teams, as you’ll constantly be liaising with purchasing officers, warehouse staff and transport clerks to ensure a smooth process.
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The nitty gritty
Ideal if you’re looking for structured hours, you’ll work from 8am to 5pm during the week. However, just like most retail jobs, you won’t be able to escape working the occasional evening and weekend shift.
When it comes to your working environment, typically you’ll be in an office, usually based within a distribution warehouse or depot.
No one wants to be stuck in a dead-end job, and the good news is when it comes to career progression, there’s plenty of room to grow. Beginning in a clerk role, you can work your way up to supervisor, then a supply chain manager (who essentially organises the whole process), right up to a senior planner or consultant.
Money, money, money
We know you won’t want to work in warehouses for no money, so what salary can you expect?
- Starting salaries for graduates range from £18,000 to £22,000 a year
- Once you’ve got more experience in the job, you could earn between £25,000 and £35,000 a year
- Reach the senior management positions and take home up to £60,000 a year
Although these wages can change depending on your employer, your location and your job title.
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The good points...
If you’re a career fidget, constantly moving on to different sectors and always after variety in your job, this is perfect for you. The skills you learn are not only highly transferable, but you’ll also find yourself working for a variety of organisations, from small firms and large chain stores, to manufacturers and charities.
...and the bad
Distribution is an industry that rarely sleeps and with so many business opening their shop doors 24 hours a day, expect to be on-call for any emergencies, even when you go home at night.
Is there study involved?
Depending on what job you want within the supply chain sector, you’ll need different qualifications on your CV.
If you’ve got your sights set on a management job (and why not aim high), the most direct way is to study a foundation degree or a BTEC HNC/HND. A qualification in a relevant degree will make sure you don’t waste your time, which includes subjects like:
- International transport
- Supply chain management
- Transport management
- NVQ in distribution, warehousing and storage operations Level 3
- NVQ in integrated logistics support management Level 4
If you’re already a graduate, some employers do offer a graduate training scheme. These can last anything from a few months to a few years, and you’ll be sent to several different work placements so you can learn while you earn.
OK, I'm interested... But is it really the job for me?
So what does it take to work in a supply chain? Handy skills include:
- Good team leader
- Planning skills
- Plenty of initiative and can work unsupervised
- Knowledge of geography
Good communication skills
- Attention to detail
- Ability to use spreadsheets, databases and other IT programmes
- Writing skills
- Ability to remain calm under pressure and make decisions quickly
- Ability to speak other languages (although this isn’t essential, just useful)