The NRF Supply Chain 360 conference and expo was held in Cleveland, June 20-21, 2022. It explored the modes and methods needed to build a stronger, more sustainable supply chain and ensure resiliency in challenging times. Learn more about the conference here.
Specialty retail company Floor & Décor has an aggressive growth strategy — 20 percent growth year-over-year. To hit that mark, the retailer has to move a lot of product — both inbound and outbound.
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“Back in 2015, we were much smaller. We had roughly 55-60 locations, and when I was brought in from a transportation aspect, we did a lot of spot-buy. As we grew, we had to change our strategy to be able to compete and keep up with our growth,” Floor & Décor’s Director of North American Logistics Charles Chambers said during a keynote session at the NRF Supply Chain 360 conference in Cleveland, where he was joined by Transfix’s CEO and President Lily Shen.
Now with more than 185 stores across the U.S., Floor & Décor still looks for transportation partners that can help the company meet its aggressive growth goals. “We needed to work with carriers that were able to provide scalability and a commitment to capacity to allow our growth,” Chambers said.
For many retailers, including Floor & Décor, that has meant moving from a committed capacity model to a dedicated capacity model, or as Chambers described it, “capacity when you need it and the ability to flex when you need to flex.”
Another logistics trend that Chambers said isn’t going anywhere any time soon is transloading containers coming into the port — transferring shipments from one mode of transportation to another. Floor & Décor recently opened a distribution center in Carson, Calif., within the heavy weight corridor that allows the company to transload shipments from the Port of Los Angeles. That has allowed Floor & Décor to bring in 60 containers rather than 45, with more weight per container, which has reduced costs.
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Technology — particularly data analytics — plays a large part in Floor & Décor’s logistics transformation under Chambers’ watch. “In 2015-2016, if you had a truck and good rate, we were doing business. Now you have to be able to provide us with the analytics, integrate with us, work with our third-party vendors to give us visibility — to be part of our full network. We need that capacity, visibility and integration,” Chambers said. “Visibility is the key thing any retailer or business needs to move forward. It’s going to allow them to make quicker, better decisions.
The days of “just moving trucks or moving pallets around” are long gone, Chambers said. Today, logistics personnel need to be able to use data analytics to guide decision making. Floor & Décor recently started its own supply chain reporting team — an extension of the IT department, but specifically focused on supply chain initiatives — to support the logistics and inventory divisions. “We’ve created this team because now we have the data analytical tools that allow us to make decisions quicker, allow us to react to outside factors quicker and make better decisions,” he said.
With over five decades of logistics experience, including 15 years with Floor & Décor, Chambers said the secret to unlocking the modern supply chain is having the right technology as well as the right people in place.
“Logistics — regardless of what position or department you’re in, if you’re in logistics, it’s a people business. We’re getting way more analytical, we’re getting way more data, way more systems in place, but ultimately the people you work with — the people you are going through the mud with — those are the people who are really going to be the ones to take you over the top.”