February 24, 2023
Panel Discussion from RILA LINK: How Collaboration is Powering Supply Chain Innovation
RILA LINK, one of the largest and most influential retail industry supply chain conferences, took place from Feb 19-22, 2023 in Orlando, Florida. Put on by the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), the event is aimed at retail supply chain and logistics leaders and typically draws several thousand attendees. This year the conference provided the backdrop for a panel discussion hosted by Flexport’s own Enrique Porto, General Manager for Miami and Latin America.
Enrique was joined by Sabrina Carr, Director of Global Transportation for The Clorox Company, and Darius Adl, Senior Director of Global Logistics at Sonos, Inc. for a discussion titled A New Era: How “Forced Collaboration” Is Powering Supply Chain Innovation and Efficiency. The talk centered around how the last few years of unpredictability effectively forced departments from across companies to collaborate more closely in order to keep their supply chains running.
How Unpredictability Led to Tech-Enabled Collaboration
When asked about how the unpredictability of the last few years has impacted their work as supply chain leaders, the panelists were in agreement on three high-level things: logistics got a seat at the boardroom table, how tech assisted in the new need for enforced communication and cross-department collaboration, and how a data-forward model has made it all possible.
According to Darius, “Logistics has a more formal seat at the table. Now for the first time in my 20-year career, we’ve got a seat at the table to cover lead times, revenue generation.”
For Sabrina, this position has led to a more educated executive team. She views this as a key driver of being able to appropriately manage executive expectations, when they know market conditions and how they impact the business, they’re better able to provide support where it’s needed and have a grounded understanding of what’s going on in their end-to-end supply chain.
The two are equally in tune when it comes to communication, both up and down the supply chain and internally between departments. Sabrina says the key to their success has been establishing communication loops and breaking down silos within the company so the teams can operate as one entity.
“For a company like Sonos, it really started in 2017 with the implementation of the 301 Tariffs on imported products from China to the U.S. This shift in trade policy required us to work closely with our manufacturing and sourcing organization. Also, with the lockdowns in and around Shanghai in 2022, we collaborated closely with our Manufacturing and Integrated Business Planning Teams to set the right expectations on pick up timing from cargo ready date as it was difficult to physically pick up product."
- Darius Adl, Senior Director of Global Logistics, Sonos, Inc.
And when asked if there was one single piece of the puzzle that has set them and their companies up for ongoing success in 2023, once again they were in agreement—logistics technology is key to navigating uncertain times.
“We’re leveraging technology to create stronger feedback loops. As demonstrated by the past 24 months, we know where the supply chain bottlenecks exist. Now it’s about using technology to enable faster decision-making that doesn’t impede operational excellence.”
- Sabrina Carr, Director of Global Transportation, The Clorox Company
Darius adds, “At Sonos, we use technology to help inform the optimal mode of transportation (MOT), especially with regards to expedited freight. The pandemic presented significantly longer lead times and component constraints, creating challenges for our integrated business planning team.” He continues, “We’ve leveraged technology to help inform decisions around determining the optimal MOT.”
And to sum up their insights about what companies need to not only survive unpredictable times, but to come out on the other end strong, thriving businesses, Sabrina provided this summary:
“We’re really trying to leverage data to tell our story when communicating with executives…Data is a universal language.”
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