France’s Supply Chain Much Different Than U.S.

I’m looking for pallets on my trip to France and you don’t see many.

Here’s what you notice. The infrastructure in the cities were created in the 1500’s. Thus, the streets are narrow and the cars are small. Modern stores are jammed into ancient buildings and the space we see in America is not available.

So, deliveries are made in smaller trucks designed to navigate the limited areas designed to serve the smaller spaces.

I see a bunch of small pallets (20 x 24) carrying smaller unit loads. The storage areas at the stores are limited so multiple deliveries daily are made with stock coming from the small trucks.

Semi-trucks with a 53 foot trailer are rare sights. You have to travel a distance from the city centers before you see distribution centers like we have in the U.S.

Shoppers also buy in smaller quantities. It is more likely that Frenchmen will shop daily for their food than weekly like we might do. Living areas are smaller.

Let me give you an example. At the grocers, you must pay a small deposit for the grocery cart. You slide a $1 euro coin in the cart and get the cart back after you return it to the stall.

There are no bags, paper or plastic, provided without a charge to you. The purchaser does the bagging rather than store personnel.

Every shopper brings their reusable grocery bags from home and, since they are only shopping for the day, they don’t typically require a cart.

Can you see Wal-Mart charging a cart deposit and encouraging folks to buy smaller quantities instead of “loading up”?

It’s a very different system. Makes you aware that there’s more than one way to do things.