Inbound Logistics | July 2023

JULY 2023




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U.S. HAS SOME WORK TO DO Highest ranking global economies in 2023: 1 Denmark 2 Ireland 3 Switzerland 4 Singapore 5 Netherlands 6 Taiwan 7 Hong Kong 8 Sweden 9 United States 10 UAE –2023 World Competitiveness Ranking published by the International Institute for Management Development

NO HORSING AROUND Florida-based Printed Farms completed the world’s largest 3D-printed building—a luxury horse barn—using COBOD’s BOD2 construction 3D printer. The unique structure features a total floor area of 10,100+ square feet. Situated in Wellington, Florida, the building is designed to withstand the extreme weather challenges of the hurricane-prone region, with a substantial focus on structural integrity and occupant safety.

The 10 most used passwords in the transportation and logistics sector: 1. company name* 2. password 3. 123456 4. company’s email* 5. aaron431 6. company name01* 7. company name123* 8. xxxcompany name* 9. Company name123* 10. company’s email*

*This password is directly referencing a company. NordPass is not naming the exact business. It notes the format in which this password was used, for example, the abbreviation of the company’s name, part of the name, or the name combined with other words or symbols. –NordPass study NEW TRANSPORT MODE IN THE WORKS? Social media had some fun when U.S. President Joe Biden talked about his administration’s plans to build a railroad from the Pacic Ocean “across” the Indian Ocean during a speech at the League of Conservation Voters Annual Capital Dinner. As soon as the short clip of the speech appeared on social media, a torrent of responses followed. “That is going to be a heck of a railroad,” tweeted GOP consultant Matt Whitlock. “Can’t wait to take a train to India for my next business trip! Should be great,” said another Twitter user.

STRESSED OUT Vivian Health asked U.S. workers to rate how stressful they felt their jobs were on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being “not at all” and 10 being “very stressful.”

How stressful workers perceive their job to be


Medical & health services

6.88 6.81 6.63 6.44 6.37 6.25 6.20 5.94 5.80 5.41

Financial services & accountancy

IT & telecoms

Hospitality & leisure


Media, marketing, advertising, PR, sales



Transportation & distribution


July 2023 • Inbound Logistics 1

CONTENTS JULY 2023 | VOL. 43 | NO. 7



MARKET RESEARCH REPORT Inbound Logistics’ 18th annual 3PL market research report examines the logistics trends and partnerships shaping 2023.

Upon leaving the service, many veterans report for duty in the transportation and supply chain sector.


124 A NEW MISSION: MILITARY VETS ENLIST IN LOGISTICS Military veterans are reporting for duty in today’s supply chain workforce. Logistics companies are tapping into this well-trained and disciplined group of employees to help ease driver shortages and translate their hard-earned skills into fulfilling transportation and logistics positions. 130 PROJECT LOGISTICS: ACHIEVING THE IMPOSSIBLE Shippers and specialized transportation providers accomplish the seemingly impossible when they plan and partner to transport oversized, heavyweight, or odd-sized shipments.

110 PUTTING 3PLS TO THE TEXT GR8 third-party logistics providers work diligently with shippers to help them navigate macro changes and to provide accountability, transparency, eciency, and streamlined supply chain operations.

3PL market share and other trends of note.

80 2023 TOP 100 3PLs Inbound Logistics editors choose the 100 3PL providers who never say BRB or TTYL when shippers need supply chain or transportation solutions—fast. 100 READERS’ CHOICE: TOP 10 3PL EXCELLENCE AWARDS The Inbound Logistics audience voted and sent the message: Here are the 10 3PL partners they trust to keep their supply chains moving.


The reel deal: Project logistics providers handle mission-critical challenges.

2 Inbound Logistics • July 2023

CONTENTS JULY 2023 | VOL. 43 | NO. 7

136 HOW TO ATTRACT AND RETAIN THE BEST SUPPLY CHAIN WORKFORCE As they steer through increasingly complex supply chain challenges, companies stay laser-focused on navigating the talent war and attracting the right people for the job. 142 TOP 20 AI APPLICATIONS IN THE SUPPLY CHAIN For small to mid-sized businesses and global corporations alike, artificial intelligence can help with everyday tasks—say filling out customs paperwork—as well as guide supply chain decision-making, enabling demand-driven responsiveness and resiliency. 148 GLOBAL LOGISTICS ESSENTIALS: WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU SOURCE, IMPORT, OR EXPORT Global logistics brings both challenges and opportunities for today’s shippers. We break down the nitty-gritty details every importer and exporter needs to know. 154 9 QUICK TIPS TO MAXIMIZE EXPEDITED SHIPPING ‘Expedite’ does not have to be a bad word in your supply chain. Here’s how to make expedited shipping a strategic strength.

166 SPONSORED CANADA & THE UNITED STATES MAP OUT CROSS- BORDER CONNECTIONS The strength of the trade relationship between the neighboring countries is illustrated daily in border crossings, where freight handled by experienced logistics providers moves seamlessly both ways. 173 Throw these books into your beach bag and catch up on the latest supply chain trends and strategies. 180 SUPPLY CHAINS 2023 SUMMER READING GUIDE ARE SOCIAL NETWORKS While many of today’s new business skills require technical knowhow, it is social skills, ironically, that may be key for future human employment.


AI-enabled solutions supercharge supply chain data.


U.S. ports have weathered storms that forced slow steaming of supply chains across the globe. Through it all, the ports stand as studies of American resilience and innovation, serving as powerful lighthouses to the world.


Importing and exporting grows in both volume and complexity.

4 Inbound Logistics • July 2023

When you need expert care for everything you’re moving by land, ocean or air.


CONTENTS JULY 2023 | VOL. 43 | NO. 7

GOOD QUESTION Who would be your lifeline during a logistics crisis? Why?


36 RISKS & REWARDS What you don’t know about your suppliers can hurt you 38 SMART MOVES The future of work is already here 40 VIEWPOINT Asset management is everyone’s job 42 SC RESILIENCY Reducing the impact of global events 44 LEAN SUPPLY CHAIN Autonomous at last? 46 AUTOMOTIVE Auto industry shifts logistics strategies 48 RESHORING What to consider before you shift 50 OCEAN TRANSPORT Could ocean be the best solution? 52 GREEN LANDSCAPE Greening the last mile 54 TRANSPORT MANAGEMENT Market swing: prepare now or lose later

The changing baby supplies market


CONTENT PARTNERS SOLVED 58 Securing unmatched private equity solutions –Hub Group 59 Mileage audit spots excess charges and saves money for shippers –RSI Logistics 60 Advantages to building an Indianapolis warehouse network –MD Logistics 61 Powering up a better supply chain –RedStone Logistics 62 Masterful moves: overcoming deadlines, pressures, and distance with extraordinary service –Holman Logistics 63 Clean shave: brand handily achieves global expansion with 3PL partner –SEKO Logistics 64 Full steam ahead, don’t let ocean costs detain you –Trans Audit 65 3PL provides a well-oiled, single-source solution –Trinity Logistics 66 Providing transformative fulllment services –All Points ATL THOUGHT LEADERS 118 How shippers are taking control of supply chain management –DAT Solutions 119 Automating warehouse operations: where to start and how to maximize gains –Engineering Innovation 120 Navigating supply chain uncertainty and volatility with proven solutions –The Logistix Company 121 Solve inbound processing problems to boost fulllment performance –WS I 122 Navigating the insourcing vs. outsourcing debate in post-COVID logistics –Capstone Logistics

INPRACTICE 20 LEADERSHIP After 15 years providing seed capital for startups, Allan Marshall returns to the C-suite to lead Upexi to $100 million in projected revenue for 2023. 22 READER PROFILE Ramesh Murthy ensures a polished supply chain for Bob’s Discount Furniture. 187 CASEBOOK Morton Food Service boosted productivity by partnering with VAI to launch mobile order entry, suggested purchasing, warehouse management, and analytics applications. 191 IT TOOLKIT Bayer Crop Science turned to Blue Yonder to install transportation management solutions that improved asset utilization, streamlined miles traveled, increased operational e›ciency, and provided increased visibility into several hundred locations in more than To eliminate the baggage that comes with ine¨ective returns processes, Samsonite installed a returns management system from ReverseLogix that o¨ers increased visibility into the customer experience. 70 countries. 195 ETALES

INFOCUS 1 INFO SNACKS 18 VERTICAL FOCUS: BABY SUPPLIES 24 NOTED 28 TAKEAWAYS 214 IN BRIEF 224 LAST MILE Back-to-school report card INSIGHT 8 CHECKING IN 3PLs and AI – a historical combination 10 DIALOG 12 10 TIPS Boosting supply chain visibility 14 GOOD QUESTION Who would be your lifeline during a logistics crisis? Why? 16 WHAT’S THE WORD? 32 3PL LINE Thinking inside the box truck 34 IT MATTERS 3 ways predictive analytics improves fulfillment

56 CROSS-BORDER Strategies to overcome cross-border obstacles INFO 198 SUPPLY CHAIN INSIGHTS 202 WEB_CITE CITY 218 CALENDAR 220 RESOURCE CENTER

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6 Inbound Logistics • July 2023

Our specialty is your specialty.

@ UniGroup Logistics U.S. DOT No. 2216831

I am not much for predictions, but here’s one you can bank on: When articial intelligence (AI) is truly applied to logistics operations, that combination will be a dening moment like few that have come before. I believe that the use of AI in logistics will be as impactful as these historical developments in U.S. freight transportation history: • The Transcontinental Railroad that connected the East and West Coasts (1869). • Almost 90 years later, the creation of the U.S. Interstate Highway System (1956) that connected most everywhere else. • The patenting of the shipping container leading to intermodalism, envisioned by trucker Malcom McLean (1956 again), efciently connecting America to the world. • The Amazon effect. Jeff Bezos’s online bookstore ignited an ecommerce revolution that changed all aspects of transportation, connecting everything to everyone’s home. Yes, there is a lot of hype about what AI can do. But I am not talking about ChatGPT or Google’s Bard version of consumer-facing AI. I mean specialized applications written for transportation, logistics, and supply chain management. In two years or less, 3PLs will have deployed customer-facing AI-driven solutions that will rival, or better said, build on, those watershed moments in U.S. transportation history. I am not alone in this opinion—84% of 3PLs responding to our annual survey on the third-party logistics market say AI is the most impactful technology they can use. That is the highest percentage of tech use ever reported in the 20+ years we have been conducting our 3PL market research survey. Why do 3PL respondents overwhelmingly say that AI is the most impactful technology ever? Because they see what I see: external and internal applications of AI-driven solutions. The external customer-facing applications are the more exciting benet, one where the 3PL’s AI expertise is applied to remaster their customers’ supply chains to drive improvements in their overall business process and, by extension, the ability to serve their customers’ customers even more efciently. 3PLs already are building internal AI solutions to address their operations, and to build out networks to connect with new partners. It won’t be too long before the offerings to their customers materialize, going beyond traditional logistics and supply chain what? To guidance, advice, and consulting, which will truly drive transformational enterprise change. Beyond the practical solutions, AI will unleash the creativity of “what is possible?” CHECKINGIN 3PLs and AI – A Historical Combination Keith Biondo, Publisher



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data produced by supply chains and gain real-time visibility and insights. Utilizing data science and analytics can optimize routes, minimize empty miles, and reduce fuel consumption. When shippers, suppliers, and carriers prioritize visibility, it opens opportunities for innovation, collaboration, and accountability. –Nathan Harvey Director Business Intelligence and Data Insights TI & NTG

Companies are dealing with shortages of some items while inventory of others piles up. Demand

planning and deploying tools like arti- cial intelligence and machine learning will help to mitigate some of these struggles. Creating redundancy among suppliers will be critical to keeping inventory owing as disruptions occur. –Will Quinn Director, Industry and Solution Strategy, Infor

Re. Good Question: What one supply chain adjustment would make the biggest impact on ESG? More supply chain transparency and visibility. Continuous improvement in technology allows businesses to harvest

10 Inbound Logistics • July 2023

Optimizing Logistics on a Global Scale

SERVICES Consolidation Cross Border Third-Party Logistics Expedites Global Freight Forwarding Asset-Based Services


Backed by our innovative, best-in-class service, ProTrans develops tailored logistics solutions that reduce the overall cost of your global supply chain.


Supply chain visibility enables companies to respond quickly to changes in customer demands, optimize production and distribution, deliver a superior customer experience, and gain a competitive edge. Here’s how to achieve it. Boosting Supply Chain Visibility

1 OBTAIN GOOD QUALITY DATA. The old saying about “garbage in, garbage out” is true. Shippers cannot attain end-to-end visibility of their supply chain without good, clean, quality data gathered from multiple sources across the supply chain. Collect and analyze data on customer demand, order volumes, order patterns, typical shipment performance, common issues that arise, and more. This information will help you plan your shipments more accurately, mitigate risk by creating contingencies for issues that arise, and effectively respond to changes in the supply chain.

7 LEVERAGE A TECHNOLOGY PLATFORM. Find the technology solution that has the expertise of your specific market because the behavior of the consumer products or medical market is di‘erent from industrial bulk or break bulk markets. A supply chain visibility platform tailored to your industry can help shippers understand how the market behaves. 8 IMPLEMENT TRACKING TECHNOLOGIES. GPS, telematics, or other IoT devices sense and monitor the movement and condition of shipments in real time. These technologies provide visibility into the status and location of shipments throughout the transportation process. Shippers can proactively address any shipment issues or exceptions that arise. 9 USE RISK-BASED DECISION-MAKING. Leverage data analytics, predictive modeling, and proactive measures to identify, assess, prioritize, and mitigate risks that can impact supply chain visibility.

2 GET A COHESIVE VIEW OF ALL MODES. Gaining a seamless view of all transportation modes requires technology that can digest the data and provide a holistic overview of the supply chain. What good are your supply chain processes if you can see where your trucks are in real time but have no idea where your rail or ocean shipments are? 3 EMPLOY AI AND ML ALGORITHMS. Artificial intelligence and machine learning continuously learn from the collected data and provide details on how to optimize the supply chain. AI empowers organizations to make sense of complex supply chain data, improve forecasting accuracy, optimize operations, and enhance decision-making capabilities, enhancing supply chain visibility and performance.

4 INTEGRATE AND SYNCHRONIZE DATA. Do this across the entire supply chain, from suppliers to end customers. This data needs to exist in a centralized data repository accessible to authorized stakeholders across the supply chain, enabling them to view and utilize the information for decision-making. 5 DEPLOY ADVANCED ANALYTICS. Analyze the collected data and generate actionable insights. So many shippers spend time trying to execute faster, but few really take the time to analyze their data and work better. The right analytics identify trends, optimize processes, predict demand, and

mitigate risks. When issues or disruptions occur in the supply chain, advanced analytics can help identify the root causes, enabling stakeholders to understand the underlying factors contributing to problems such as delays, quality issues, or ineŽciencies. 6 CONSIDER DATA VISUALIZATION. To help people better understand and interpret supply chain information, data is transformed into visual elements like charts or graphs that can be easily comprehended so that viewers quickly grasp insight, trends, and patterns that might not be apparent from the raw data alone.


Gain insights about sustainable practices. By working closely with suppliers and promoting transparency, organizations gain visibility into supplier operations, enabling them to assess sustainability performance and make informed sourcing decisions.


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Maximizing customer value through continuous improvement and innovation, CJ Logistics provides customers visibility to supply chain data to help them improve, optimize and make informed decisions. Data is transformed into intelligence. Maximizing customer value through continuous improvement and innovation, CJ Logistics provides customers visibility to supply chain data to help them improve, optimize and make informed decisions. Data is transformed into intelligence.



Who Would Be Your Lifeline During a Logistics Crisis? Why? Quenching Logistics Challenges

A HISTORIC MILITARY LEADER who identified logistics as one of the most critical success factors and elevated the profession: ♦ Dwight D. Eisenhower: “You will not find it dicult to prove that battles, campaigns, and even wars have been won or lost primarily because of logistics.” ♦ Napoleon Bonaparte: “Amateurs discuss tactics, professionals discuss logistics.” ♦ Alexander the Great: “My logisticians are a humorless lot. They know if my campaign fails, they are the first ones I will slay.” –Andre Luecht Global Practice Lead, Manufacturing, Transportation & Logistics, Zebra Technologies TONY FADELL. He was the creator of a number of critical software and hardware technologies—including the iPod and Nest thermostat—which makes him qualified to understand both elements that generally exist in logistical crises. Tony was hired to design and build what became the iPod and shipped the first one to customers 290 days after beginning the project. –Michael Johnson CEO, Metrc ELON MUSK. He is never satisfied with the current way of things. He always has a plan for the future and is not afraid to tell the truth as he sees it. Finally, he has the resources. –Reo Hatfield VP, Corporate Services TA Services

The leadership at Coca-Cola. They have the best distribution network in the entire world, getting products onto shelves incredibly soon after launch. With the ability to navigate and thrive within international supply chains, while dealing with a diverse set of regulatory requirements, they are an ideal source for dealing with a complex logistics crisis. –Bryan Gerber Founder & CEO, HARA Supply

MY DAD. I was lucky to work with him to help grow his company Canyon State Courier when I was fresh out of college. I remember thinking how lucky I was to spend time with him daily, sitting in his oce and working through the crazy challenges this industry brings our way. –Tim Cocchia CLDA Treasurer Board Member and COO, Xcel Delivery Services DR. JOHN COYLE from Penn State, though sadly he passed away. In his absence I would say that any of the logistics professors in Penn State’s Smeal College of Business could serve as a tremendous resource in a bind. I have alumni bias, but they have always been at the forefront of new research and trends related to the profession. –Eric Elter Director, Information and Technology Services, KDL Logistics SAM WALTON. As the founder of Walmart, his extensive experience in building and managing a retail empire

with a strong focus on logistics and supply chain management would be invaluable in navigating and resolving the crisis e‘ectively. –George Maksimenko CEO, Adexin ULYSSES S. GRANT. He won the U.S. Civil War based on excellence in supply chains. –Antony Yousefian VP Climate & Circularity, Wiliot LAURA LANE, chief corporate a‘airs and sustainability ocer at UPS. During the pandemic I saw firsthand her ability to navigate through unprecedented government regulations. She kept UPS operating, both domestically and internationally. –Melissa Somsen Chief Commercial O„cer, AFS Logistics RAY KROC. The McDonald’s founder was driven to maintain consistency. He drove eciencies and delivered a high-quality customer experience while maintaining costs. His innovative

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practices more than three quarters of a century ago, are still influencing how supply chains are managed today. –Stephen Dombroski Director, Consumer Products and Food & Beverage Markets, QAD THE ALLIED LOGISTICIANS who engineered victory for the United States, UK, Soviet Union, and their allies in World War II. They had to move hundreds of thousands of people and vehicles to every part of the world—from remote Pacific islands to the deserts of North Africa—in extreme circumstances in very short periods of time. I think they could figure out how to move couches or clothes. –Tony Pelli Practice Director, Security and Resilience, BSI FREDERICK McKINLEY JONES, a revolutionary inventor in the transportation industry. In the early 1900s, he patented the mechanical transport refrigeration unit, making it possible to transport food around the world, all while battling discrimination. His insight and leadership would be tremendously valuable for leveraging temperature-controlled technology to simplify transportation. –Sean Burke Chief Commercial Officer, Echo Global Logistics Put Pep In Your Step Pep Guardiola, the Spanish coach who just led English soccer team Manchester City to the treble, would be an ideal advisor. Guardiola is a

I Like Ike Dwight D. Eisenhower. I make use of the Eisenhower Matrix (pictured) . I would want to have heard from the man himself. Planning, preparing, and executing a moment in history like the Normandy invasion puts any logistics

crisis in perspective. Do everything in your power to prepare. And at a certain point you need to have confidence in that preparation—and your people—to get on with the task at hand. –Richard Kohn Director, Global Logistics & Optimization, SeaCube Containers

THE LEADERS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE MOVEMENT OF GOODS at the largest companies in the United States. These experts are actively utilizing technology to solve real-world supply chain issues. Hearing how they handle the obstacles they face daily would be inspiring. –Eric Vasquez Owner, Veterans Logistics Group A LONG-TERM MENTOR who is always eager to listen, share, and challenge points of view to get to the root cause of a problem. With creative solutions, she has helped me overcome problems, threats, and challenges in the face of disruption. –Ann Marie Jonkman, PMP Senior Director, Global Industry Strategies, Blue Yonder

GEORGE WASHINGTON was a surveyor by profession. I remember the photo of him in my middle school history book looking through his trusty theodolite. He understood the value of visibility and recognized the inherent challenge of fixing and reacting to what you can’t see, and improving what you can’t measure. This notion resonates strongly in the context of logistics visibility, which is crucial in avoiding disruption or minimizing impact, even for the best-laid transportation plans. –Douglas DeLuca Business Network Solution Marketing, SAP

Have a great answer to a good question? Be sure to participate next month. We want to know: What’s your controversial take on a supply chain issue? We’ll publish some answers. Tell us at or tweet us @ILMAGAZINE #ILGOODQUESTION

meticulous planner—leaving no stone unturned. He would have 360-degree visibility of his supply base and identify potential problems long before they became an issue.

–Matthias Gutzmann Founder & CEO, DPW

July 2023 • Inbound Logistics 15


The Language of Logistics



Logistics Visibility

BOPIS: Buy Online/Pick up In Store BORIS: Buy Online/Return In Store BOPIS and BORIS are two ecommerce options, in addition to direct fulfillment and return paths, that supply chain stakeholders must rethink to better support customers. With ecommerce fulfillment occurring from brick-and-mortar stores, warehouses/ distribution centers, and even manufacturing facilities in some direct-to-consumer models, supply chain stakeholders find fulfillment and shipping complex. Operational speed, new product profiles, packaging levels, and paths to market are expected as they further refine operations. –Mark Wheeler, Vertical Strategy Lead, Supply Chain Execution, Zebra Technologies The process of achieving and maintaining acceptable risk levels for supply chains, in the areas of operational reliability, regulatory compliance, environmental, finance, and organization, which may include identifying alternative actions and managing trade-o¨s. Supply chains regularly face a myriad of challenges that can adversely impact their e¨ectiveness. Proactively identifying alternative actions and implementing them when required will help de-risk the supply chain. –Steve Blust, President, Containerization & Intermodal Institute SUPPLY CHAIN DE RISKING

This refers to the capability of monitoring the progress and status of orders or movement of goods, products, and materials for a clearer view along a process or route. With real-time order and shipment tracking, businesses can manage disruptions when they occur, becoming more agile and resilient. Competitive companies achieve logistics agility and supply chain resilience through transparent shipping and logistics processes, including tendering, pickup, and last-mile delivery. —TONY HARRIS VP & Chief Marketing & Solutions OŽcer, SAP Business Network

WALKING FREIGHT Definition: Delivery mode that relies on people on foot Application: Last-mile logistics Benefit: Can reduce congestion from light goods vehicles (LGVs) Test run: UPS and the Cross River Partnership started a walking freight trial in the London borough of Camden. Launched in May 2023 and set to last until September 2024, the London Light Freight Walking Trial aims to replace LGVs with couriers who deliver freight on foot using an electric- assisted trolley or e-walker (pictured above) from manufacturer Fernhay. HOTSHOT SHIPPING

A logistics service where smaller, specialized vehicles are used to haul time-sensitive, smaller less-than-truckload (LTL) freight. For shippers that don’t have a full truckload weekly and need to ship products quickly and cost eciently, hotshot shipping can provide advantages over traditional LTL, such as: ● Faster transit times ● Reduced damages from less handling ● Cost savings

With no touchpoints, hotshot shipping is ideal for high-value shipments. Since LTL carriers are beholden to a rule tari„ of no more than six skids on a truck at one time or loads exceeding 8 feet, hotshot is one way to avoid the complications of compliance concerns and regulations. –Dustin Kreigh, Operations Manager, TA Services

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SEKO delivers a seamless end-to-end solution for some of the world’s most iconic brands. From value-added freight forwarding to integrated ecommerce and specialist White Glove services, we are a trusted 3PL provider that can powerfully drive your ambitious growth plans forward - so you can move at the speed of global commerce. Proudly voted Top 10 3PL for another year running SEKOLOGISTICS.COM

Baby Supplies

CHANGING THE DIAPER MARKET Despite supply chain disruptions, raw material shortages, and inflation, innovation is thriving in the baby diaper market and new brands continue to be born. Although the United States is a mature market for diapers, a Euromonitor report still predicts modest growth for baby diapers over the next five years, driven by disposable pants. Most of the growth today is driven not by volume but by price because of inflation, says the report. The supply chain has proven to be one of the most pressing challenges for young diaper brands. “The pandemic, raw material availability and fluctuating prices created a constant flux,” says Sergio Radovcic, CEO of Dyper. “Brands such as Dyper that rely on specialized plant-based materials and unique raw materials are particularly challenged and have to exhibit high resilience to assure uninterrupted supply to consumers,” Radovcic says. “These and other challenges also present unique opportunities to innovate, which comes naturally to young brands rooted in challenging the status quo.” –Nonwovens Industry

In 2022, parents faced a nightmare when the pandemic and panic-buying, a large-scale voluntary infant formula recall, and the shutdown of a major manufacturing facility due to unsanitary conditions caused supply chain shortages of infant formula. To avoid a repeat of that scenario, U.S. regulatory agencies are studying ways to improve the country’s baby formula supply chain. As part of the Food and Drug Omnibus Reform Act of 2022, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a report titled Immediate National Strategy to Increase the Resiliency of the U.S. Infant Formula Market . The report outlines several ways to improve the infant formula supply chain: • Advance strategies to prevent illness associated with cronobacter sakazakii in powdered infant formula. • Collaborate with U.S. government partners to address tari¨s and market concentration. • Enhance FDA inspections at infant formula manufacturing plants and provide investigators with more thorough training. • Make information about formulas easier to understand on the FDA website. • Make sure formula manufacturing companies understand the need to create and execute backup plans to manage risks and prevent production disruptions in the supply chain. • Monitor the availability of infant formula and create a prediction model that will help the FDA minimize future supply issues. • Speed up reviews of applications for new baby formula products to help prevent or reduce shortages. • Work with the USDA to ensure the Women, Infants and Children formula programs remain resilient. • Work with health care providers and professionals to help educate consumers. A FORMULA TO COMBAT SHORTAGES

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ROCK-A-BYTE BABY The supply chain is not the only sector that has embraced technology. Dandelion Chandelier, a digital luxury lifestyle magazine, cites some new baby products that incorporate technology to make life a little easier for parents and babies. Smart car seat. Cybex’s Sirona S 360 features a special clip on the harness to alert parents via their smartphone if they leave the baby behind in the car. It also notifies parents if a child unbuckles the clip, is too warm or is seated too long. And if the driver doesn’t respond to an alert about a child left behind, it alerts emergency contacts. All-in-one monitor. Miku’s Pro Smart Baby Monitor tracks breathing and sleep patterns in real time without wearables. 1080p HD video and night vision ensure video is crystal clear, while 2-way talk allows parents to communicate and verbally soothe their baby. And if anything is amiss, Miku’s app sends an alert to a smartphone. Stroller that pushes and rocks itself . E-Priam, a battery-powered and app-controlled stroller (pictured above) is powered by an electric motor to propel the walker more easily uphill or over rough terrain. The stroller’s lithium ion battery has a six-hour charge time and gets anywhere between five to 28 miles per charge.

TURNING GREEN Parents shopping for baby essentials increasingly search for sustainable options, driving manufacturers and brands to examine some of their supply chain practices. Some baby brands, for instance, are converting to packaging that uses biodegradable, compostable, or reusable materials. And, while it may be unavoidable for some items, brands are minimizing single-use plastic in the packaging and in the product itself. When it comes to materials, parents gravitate toward bamboo and organic cotton for clothing, bedding, and for both cloth and disposable diapers. They also opt for stainless steel or glass bottles over plastic bottles, and sustainably sourced and natural wood for cribs and other furniture. For baby skin care and bathing products, natural oils such as coconut, avocado, and calendula, as well as organic and plant-based ingredients such as chamomile, aloe, and shea butter, are on the sustainable shopping list.

BABY BUMP Looks like the baby supply chain will get busier this year. The U.S. birth rate continues to grow year by year, according to United Nations projections. • The current U.S. birth rate in 2023 is 12.02 births per 1,000 people. • The U.S. birth rate in 2022 was 12.01 births per 1,000 people. • The U.S. birth rate in 2021 was 12 births per 1,000 people. • The U.S. birth rate in 2020 was 11.9 births per 1,000 people. —Macrotrends

$8.46 BILLION Baby food revenue in the United States in 2023 3.5% Expected annual growth in the baby food market (CAGR 2023-2028) CHINA Country that generates the most baby food revenue globally (US$17.8 billion in 2023). FEEDING TIME

– Statista

July 2023 • Inbound Logistics 19

LEADERSHIP Conversations with the Captains of Industry

Ecommerce Plug and Play

Allan Marshall gured his days as a CEO were complete. He’d founded several successful logistics rms, including Segmentz, which eventually became XPO Logistics. Satised with all he had accomplished, Marshall then spent about 15 years providing seed capital for promising startups. One of those startups, called Grove, struck Marshall as a particular standout. Grove offered a corporate infrastructure for direct-to-consumer merchants. The potential was strong, but the rm needed better management. “I decided to put in a little more money, take control of the company, and give everyone who invested a chance to be successful,” he says. Marshall became CEO and, in 2022, changed the rm’s name to Upexi. In 2023, it’s poised to make a prot on $100 million in revenues. Marshall talked with us about his leadership trajectory and his rapidly growing enterprise. IL: What opportunities made Upexi so interesting to you? Amazon had created a launching pad for small brands. But if you start a brand today, you reach a point where you don’t know how to get bigger. You can’t afford a development team, an advertising team, and a marketing team. So you hire agencies, and they eat up all your cash. We offer an alternative, acquiring ecommerce and Amazon brands and providing a plug-and-play model to make them protable and more efcient. IL: Tell us about an event from early in your career that helped to shape you as a leader. Early on, I learned that you have to understand every aspect of your business. When I was in my 20s, my friends and I started a temporary agency for truck drivers. I learned the business by making deliveries. Then I moved into sales, where my conversations with customers clued me in to new opportunities. They needed trucks as well as drivers. They needed linehaul services. Even at XPO, I used to drive the forklifts on some days, or unload. At Upexi, I’ve worked on the oor; I’ve xed our packaging machines. We have our own third-party logistics services and our own pick-and-pack. I walk through there regularly, asking about the problems and about what we could do better.

Allan Marshall CEO, Upexi

Allan Marshall by the numbers: He wakes up at 5 a.m., responds to 100-300 Slack messages daily, and has calls five or six days each week with his teams. In 2023, his company is poised to make a profit on $100 million in revenue.

by Merrill Douglas

20 Inbound Logistics • July 2023


Learning by Doing

Some people learn leadership skills from role models and mentors who teach by example. Allan Marshall got his education by jumping in with both feet and getting his hands dirty. “I’ve never worked for another person,” Marshall says. “I’ve only had my own businesses.” Necessity and experience taught him to love hard work. “There was no task I wouldn’t do,” he says. “When we had our first office, I cleaned the bathrooms; I’d come in early and vacuum so the place would look good.” Marshall has also learned a great deal from the teams that have defined the success of his companies. “It’s about having people who work hard because you work hard, because you care about them and they care about you.”

IL: Right now, what’s the most interesting challenge at Upexi? Our biggest challenge is nding human capital that doesn’t want to specialize in just one thing. I look for people who want to be generalists and understand our whole business. You always have to plug in the specialists to help train others. But the generalists can also train the specialists. IL : What do you most look forward to achieving at the company in the next 12 months? I want to see our earlier stage brands grow up. We’ve created some economies of scale for them; now we’re working to drive them to the next level of product development. I want our three main brands—VitaMedica, Tytan Tiles, and Lucky Tail—to grow to the next level and become better known in their sectors. IL: Which emerging technology will have the greatest impact on your business? We’ve just launched an initiative to build our own articial intelligence (AI) engine, which we’ll use to develop business intelligence to increase sales. For example, when was a customer shopping? Was it raining? What was the temperature? What other products have they bought from us? And what offer did they act on? Was it two-for-one? Free shipping? We want the AI to analyze all that and give us the best opportunity to sell to that demographic. The volume of data AI can sort through in one minute is more than we can sort through in one month. And it bases its decisions on data, not on a gut feeling. I’m excited to see how we can use this to spend our money in the best possible way while also creating the best possible experience. We’re developing the AI engine in partnership with SME Solutions Group. I used ChatGPT to write the press release announcing the partnership. I had to edit the results. But I was amazed at what it produced in about eight seconds. IL: What characteristics make you an effective leader? I don’t treat anyone like I’m the CEO. I treat everyone like I’m their resource and they’re my resource. I want people to follow me because they know I’ll do the same job they do, and I’m there for all the projects and problems. In collaboration, we do a better job. It’s the same when I hire an executive. I

don’t want them to tell people what to do, but to tell people they’re going to help them, whatever they need.

IL: If we followed you on a typical day, what would we see? I wake up at about 5 a.m. and log into all our sales channels. I look at the return on equity on all our spend every morning. I look at our board to see the projects everyone is working on, and I might send e-mails about some of them. Then I work out to get motivated for the second part of my day. I have calls ve or six days a week with each of our teams, and I catch up with our CFO during the day. After lunch, I check our sales numbers to see if we’re on trend. Later, I follow up on future projects. I respond to 100 to 300 Slack messages a day. And since we’re a public company, I spend about 15 hours a week on calls with investors and analysts. IL: What business books would you recommend? Two books that have inuenced me are Good to Great by Jim Collins and The Ride of a Lifetime by Bob Iger. And I’ve read books about some of the great investors, such as Peter Lynch and Warren Buffett. IL: Outside of work, how do you like to spend your time? I love to be outdoors, especially walking in the mountains with my dog and my wife. We spend time in Jackson, Wyoming in the summer and for part of the winter, when I go snowmobiling and snowshoeing. In Canada, where I was born, I have a cabin on a lake. It’s off the grid, with only solar power. n

July 2023 • Inbound Logistics 21


as told to Karen Kroll

Embracing the System

RESPONSIBILITIES: Merchandise planning and demand forecasting, supply and inventory planning, inbound logistics, warehousing and distribution, final-mile delivery, supply chain technology process and analytics, and quality assurance. EXPERIENCE: Senior vice president, global planning and logistics, and vice president, global planning, both with Hasbro; head of retail and CPG consulting, North America, Tata Consultancy Services; vice president, business development, KKM; vice president, inventory replenishment, CVS Pharmacy; managerial and executive positions with Retail Solutions, Inc.; American Greetings, Arthur Andersen, E&Y, and Ciba Corning Diagnostics. EDUCATION: M.S., biomedical engineering, Boston University; B.S., biomedical and electrical engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. RAMESH MURTHY is executive vice president and chief supply chain officer with Bob’s Discount Furniture, a rapidly growing omnichannel furniture retailer, with 164 stores across 24 states.

a large number of carriers to make sure that we have the capacity we need to move all our goods. The third step was boosting visibility. That is a big challenge and a big opportunity for everybody in the supply chain. INSTOCK LEVELS With these initiatives, we were able to drive our in-stock levels to where they needed to be. Today we’re about back to pre-pandemic levels. That has been exciting for us.

months into this effort. Our goods come from abroad in many cases. During and coming out of the pandemic, the thinking was, ‘just get your hands on whatever goods you can get your hands on.’ At some point, though, we have to prioritize. We have several thousand stock-keeping units (SKUs) across 75 suppliers, and all have nite capacity. We worked to help our suppliers prioritize our critical needs. As a second step, we spent a lot of time this year building relationships with

M y role at Bob’s Discount Furniture is a new one. We brought all the supply chain areas across our organization into one place, and I’m responsible for moving goods from start to nish. A rst step was getting everyone to work together. I started with a weekly call with the leadership team. I love making sure everyone knows exactly what everyone else knows. MAKING IT RIGHT The lightning rod that brought together every function was asking: ‘How do we make it right for the customer every time?’ If we promise we’ll get a product to a customer in one week, then we have to deliver on that promise. To get there, we are working hard to make sure our in-stock levels are where they need to be. We are nine

The lightning rod that brought together every function was asking: ‘How do we make it right for the customer every time?’ If we promise we’ll get a product to a customer in one week, then we have to deliver on that promise.

22 Inbound Logistics • July 2023


My career has been non-linear. I started as an academic scientist, and then moved to medical products, consulting, and consumer goods. The academic world was great. I was studying movement and neuromuscular systems. It was really interesting and great scientic work, but it didn’t have that practical, pragmatic element to it. In my rst supply chain role, the challenge for me was pushing out of my comfort zone, trying new things, and guring out how to get my arms around the system. That’s where my engineering degree helps. Everything to me is a big, complex system, whether it’s running a supply chain or running a company. What I love about supply chain is how it combines several cool things. It’s a large and complex system. It’s a big mathematical problem–‘I have to move these things from point A to point B and these are the variables I have to deal with’—so it has intellectual excitement to it. I also love that it’s practical. And, nally, we serve customers. I love when someone receives our furniture and it feels good in their home. n

Ramesh Murthy Answers the Big Questions 1 What activities help you in your role?

strategy. That was a big change for me. I had always felt you lay out the strategy and then hand it to people to go do it. It’s much better the other way around. 3 If you could time travel, what period would most interest you? As an engineer and a bit of a nerd, I always wanted to be in the Renaissance period; to spend time with Da Vinci and watch how he invented. Today we’re in a period of technological creativity. It’s di‘erent from the pure physical creativity of that time.

I am into music and enjoy figuring out how all the components and systems go together so I can get the outcome I want. If you mix and match di‘erent equipment, you get very di‘erent sounds. It’s Zen and also analytical. 2 What’s the best leadership or supply chain advice you received? Early in my career I learned success is about having the best people you can get, as opposed to necessarily having the best plan or

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