As British Columbians across the Lower Mainland wind down their work in time for the holiday season’s cherished promises of family and relaxation, at retail distribution centres like London Drugs’ Richmond-based warehouse, our gears are kicked into overdrive for the most busy time of the year.
During this season, Canadians will spend an average of $1,500—with gifts accounting for more than 40 per cent of that figure.
And while the retail madness associated with gift giving may be all too familiar, you might be surprised to learn about how the collective efforts of Richmond workers ensured that store shelves were stocked in time.
At London Drugs’ main distribution facility, for example, where I work with 345 fellow Richmondites, our planning of gifts journeys to underneath Christmas trees actually began six months ago.
At this time, our merchandise buyers began auditing manufacturers from across the world to source the most desirable gifts to be imported in time for the holiday season.
From there, the long process of meeting with suppliers, arranging orders, and coordinating local deliveries begins—enabled in large part by the Port of Vancouver, Canada’s largest port, which imported nearly six million tonnes of consumer goods last year alone.
Once the goods are here, the real work begins as an integrated network of workers must coordinate to ensure that gifts can reach store shelves and customer doorsteps in time. Warehouse staff unload and sort tonnes of goods, fulfillment specialists work around the clock to steer product allocations where demand is greatest, and fleet vehicle drivers transport replenishment orders to our network of over 80 stores.
It is thanks to the collective efforts of thousands of these British Columbians—from those at the shipyards, in warehouses, and within stores, that this complex, logistical dance works seamlessly, and it always seems a little like magic when it does.
So, the next time you embark on a gift-shopping run or place an order online, consider how the work of your fellow Richmondites enabled your gifts to transform from ship-container cargo to gift-wrapped presents for your loved ones.