Transparency and innovation in Ahold’s logistics

‘The Champions League of transport’ is how Mark van der Drift describes delivering to stores in town and city centres. As senior director of transport at Ahold, he is responsible for the retailer’s national and international transport activities. Partners and strategic partnerships play a crucial role. During a Supply Chain Media roundtable discussion, he explained Ahold’s philosophy behind the use of third parties: ‘The transport company takes a business risk to achieve important innovations for the sector.’

By Marco van der Hoeven

Supply Chain Media and Oracle recently organised a roundtable on logistics outsourcing. The topic was discussed based on the independent online self-assessment tool for logistics outsourcing which has been developed over the past two years by Nyenrode, consultancy firm Districon, logistics service provider DSV Solutions and Supply Chain Media. After an explanation of the model’s four archetypes for logistics outsourcing Mark van der Drift, senior director of transport at Ahold, described how the multinational manages its collaboration with third parties. He indicated that Ahold has a strategic alliance with JF Hillebrand for sea freight, and issues tenders for European road freight in view of the fierce price competition in that market. For national transport,  the collaboration is based on strategic partnerships with transport companies which offer flexibility and add value in  terms of quality on a daily basis.

Van der Drift is responsible for the transport activities of Ahold’s subsidiaries Albert Heijn, Etos and Gall&Gall. Every day, 1,200 trucks visit 2,000 different delivery addresses as part of the national and international transport for those companies, involving 25 different transport firms. ‘We purposefully don’t have our own transport for efficiency and flexibility reasons,’ said Van der Drift. ‘We work with external transport companies who have their own vehicles and drivers.’

Smart innovations

Van der Drift explained that Ahold’s transport is based on two pillars: transparency in its collaboration with transport companies, and a belief in smart innovations to achieve more sustainable and more efficient transport. ‘Because we have so many city-zone locations (Ahold has 80 stores in Amsterdam alone, Ed.) we must innovate to achieve quieter, cleaner, safer and more efficient deliveries – partly because of governmental pressure (Green Deal 6) and partly because of our responsibility to local residents, who after all are also our customers. The shopper’s voice is more powerful than any government regulation could ever be.’

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