Costs and benefits of using cross-docking in the retail supply chain

Yassine Benrqya (School of Business Administration, Al Akhawayn University, Ifrane, Morocco)

International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management

ISSN: 0959-0552

Publication date: 8 April 2019



The purpose of this paper is to investigate the costs/benefits of implementing the cross-docking strategy in a retail supply chain context using a cost model. In particular, the effects of using different typologies of cross-docking compared to traditional warehousing are investigated, taking into consideration an actual case study of a fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) company and a major French retailer.


The research is based on a case study of an FMCG company and a major French retailer. The case study is used to develop a cost model and to identify the main cost parameters impacted by implementing the cross-docking strategy. Based on the cost model, a comparison of the main cost factors characterizing four different configurations is made. The configurations studied are, the traditional warehousing strategy (AS-IS configuration, the reference configuration for comparison), where both retailers and suppliers keep inventory in their warehouses; the cross-docking pick-by-line strategy, where inventory is removed from the retailer warehouse and the allocation and sorting are performed at the retailer distribution centre (DC) level (TO-BE1 configuration); the cross-docking pick-by-store strategy, where the allocation and sorting are done at the supplier DC level (TO-BE2 configuration); and finally a combination of cross-docking pick-by-line strategy and traditional warehousing strategy (TO-BE3 configuration).


The case study provides three main observations. First, compared to traditional warehousing, cross-docking with sorting and allocation done at the supplier level increases the entire supply chain cost by 5.3 per cent. Second, cross-docking with allocation and sorting of the products done at the retailer level is more economical than traditional warehousing: a 1 per cent reduction of the cost. Third, combining cross-docking and traditional warehousing reduces the supply chain cost by 6.4 per cent.

Research limitations/implications

A quantitative case study may not be highly generalisable; however, the findings form a foundation for further understanding of the reconfiguration of a retail supply chain.


This paper fills a gap by proposing a cost analysis based on a real case study and by investigating the costs and benefits of implementing different configurations in the retail supply chain context. Furthermore, the cost model may be used to help managers choose the right distribution strategy for their supply chain.



Yassine Benrqya (2019) "Costs and benefits of using cross-docking in the retail supply chain", International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 47 No. 4, pp. 412-432

Download as .RIS





Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

Please note you might not have access to this content

You may be able to access this content by login via Shibboleth, Open Athens or with your Emerald account.
If you would like to contact us about accessing this content, click the button and fill out the form.
To rent this content from Deepdyve, please click the button.