“We have real-time visibility into nearly all aspects of our business,” Levy says. “Many companies wait a little longer to invest in this type of technology. While we’re still in the earlier innings, we have big ambitions. “By putting the right system in place, we created the ability to scale to much larger volumes efciently, and to serve world-class retailers and partners—from major retailers like Kroger, CVS, and Rite Aid to the foodservice industry to travel and hospitality companies like United Airlines.” The system upgrade integrates customer management, supply and demand planning, and track and trace functionality—which is crucial in the food industry. Additions include implementing handheld devices used for pick and pack in the warehouse and connectivity with customers and suppliers through EDI. Undercover Snacks and ShopWorn’s moves to collect and use more data reect wider trends among small and mid-sized shippers particularly in the middle mile—that leg of the supply chain between the factory or distribution center and the retailer. One invaluable byproduct of utilizing consistent carriers is that you can build a good database to drive decisions, according to Christopher Kupillas, vice president of managed logistics at BlueGrace Logistics, a third- party logistics provider based in Los Angeles, California.
have product available. Retailers who allocate slots on a shelf want to make sure they are lled, particularly after what happened with the run on the center aisle and in grocery stores early in the pandemic. “Part of our success was that we were able to have products available to step in if other suppliers couldn’t deliver,” Levy explains. “We’ve forged some nice relationships that we expect to grow signicantly with customers who now trust and understand that we have strong manufacturing capabilities as well as the ability to execute on the logistics side,” he adds. For New Jersey-based luxury e-tailer ShopWorn, which receives almost all its merchandise from overseas, relationships with freight forwarders—some stretching back 20 years—were essential. They enabled the ow of “shopworn” designer handbags, watches, jewelry, and accessories—merchandise that has only been worn in the shop and never used— to keep owing despite the ocean and air capacity crunch. “Our business is built on relationships, starting with the brand and our consumers as well as with our carriers, whether for small packages or inbound freight,” says Larry Birnbaum, president of ShopWorn. ShopWorn’s relationship with its customers continues to grow. Sales jumped 67% in 2021—more than double their average annual growth of
30%, according to Birnbaum. ShopWorn also made a seminal technology leap in 2021 from an accounting-based solution to a system that could integrate inventory, sales, and fulllment management. “We just outgrew our old system. It couldn’t give us the data that we needed,” says Birnbaum. “Unfortunately, we had to launch the new system in the middle of October, which was the start of the season, but we wouldn’t have been able to do what we’ve done to date without it.” Undercover Snacks also enhanced its systems signicantly during the pandemic. They switched from an accounting platform to Oracle NetSuite, which integrates order fulllment, nancial reporting, quality control, track and trace functionality, and purchasing, receiving, and demand planning management.
SMBs increasingly focus on improving efficiencies in the middle mile—the part of the supply chain between the factory or distribution center and the retailer.
CHART: BLUEGRACE LOGISTICS
192 Inbound Logistics • January 2022
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