Working With Lord & Taylor: Collaborative Lessons Learned in Fulfillment
The best business partners do more than just act as vendors or clients; they go the extra mile to collaborate and achieve targeted goals.
Within the third-party fulfillment space, that's not always easy, and sometimes collaboration means the distribution partner is literally working itself out of a job. But in the end, the collaborative process can result in key wins for both the brand and the fulfillment partner.
Lessons Learned From Dotcom Distribution's Collaboration With Lord & Taylor
Dotcom Distribution's relationship with Lord & Taylor is a great example of how a distribution partner can collaborate with its clients to learn key insights. When Lord & Taylor approached Dotcom as a fulfillment partner, it was preparing to launch a major initiative to expand its national footprint via e-commerce.
Although the brand already had a facility in Pennsylvania to handle its brick-and-mortar distribution requirements, that facility lacked the capacity to handle the influx of orders Lord & Taylor hoped to achieve through e-commerce expansion. Additionally, the Lord & Taylor team lacked the experience and expertise needed to manage a fast-growing e-commerce operation that would be required to scale from just a few hundred orders per day to more than 4,000 orders daily during the holiday season.
As one of the country's preeminent department stores with a strong focus on the customer experience, Lord & Taylor had very specific branding requirements relative to its e-commerce packaging. While Dotcom Distribution had a great reputation for quickly and accurately shipping online orders, Lord & Taylor's desire to duplicate the in-store experience created some initial challenges.
One key learning from the relationship was understanding just how important it is to leverage packaging to resell the Lord & Taylor brand and re-enforce the customer experience with each package delivered. Whether representing a gift order or a personal present, a package's beauty not only projects the image of Lord & Taylor, but it could also drive incremental sales.
As a result of this experience, Dotcom Distribution has increased its focus on luxury packaging and gifting, and has helped educate other clients about the benefits of premium packaging, whether it be gift wrapping, custom packaging, options for custom messaging or other solutions that can resell the client's brand at the time of delivery.
Like most retailers, Lord & Taylor's brick-and-mortar operations feature a large number of SKUs. Right away, Dotcom worked alongside Lord & Taylor's stakeholders to identify the fastest-selling products for online consumers, as well as the overall mix of products being offered. Managing the inventory in terms of creating locations within the warehouse is critical, and using the right size location is paramount to minimizing the use of warehouse space while maximizing picking efficiencies and minimizing the replenishment effort. In each instance, cost can be reduced significantly.
Key learnings for Lord & Taylor included understanding how to minimize the use of valuable warehouse space, while creating unique "locations" within the warehouse to maximize picking efficiencies. The retailer also gained a better overall understanding of the resources required to seamlessly scale a fast-growing e-commerce business.
As planned, Lord & Taylor eventually moved beyond its relationship with Dotcom Distribution, reconfigured its facility and transitioned fulfillment back in-house. By partnering with Dotcom, Lord & Taylor was able to leverage the learnings and develop a more efficient internal operation. Proof that a collaborative effort between business partners yields the best outcomes.
Maria Haggerty is CEO and one of the original founders of Dotcom Distribution, a premier provider of B2C and B2B fulfillment and distribution services. She received her Bachelor of Business Administration from University of Houston, C.T. Bauer College of Business with a concentration in Accounting. Maria plays an integral role in developing and defining all aspects of the business, including sales and marketing, operations, finance and IT. As CEO, she is responsible for providing strategic leadership, establishing long range goals, and developing strategies for the senior leadership team. Maria has developed the systemic and procedural infrastructure necessary to provide timely and accurate analysis of budgets, financial reports and financial trends in order to assist the Board, senior executives and clients in performing their responsibilities while achieving favorable results. She works closely with the leadership team to enhance, develop, and enforce procedures that will improve the overall operation and effectiveness of the corporation. During her tenure at the Dotcom, Maria has developed an environment of continual improvement by supporting the Senior Leadership Team and their department managers on continuous process, space labor, automation, and financial best practices. Prior to founding Dotcom, Maria was a CPA at Arthur Andersen and was later the CFO of GoodTimes Home Video where she helped grow the company’s distribution business. When Maria is not in the office, she enjoys traveling around the world and practicing her photography skills.