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Logistics Rewired: How Parade and Reel Paper Stay In Stock and Unlock Growth

Logistics Rewired: How Parade and Reel Paper Stay In Stock and Unlock Growth

Ted Boeglin: Hello everybody and welcome to Flexport’s Logistics Rewired Webinar, we're going to have two amazing guests from Parade and from Reel Paper, we're going to be talking about how to stay in stock and unlock growth. We're hitting on all the most important topics today. Navigating market challenges, managing customer experience, building a logistics team, surviving rapid growth and picking the right partners for scale. It's going to be very fast paced, 45 minutes. So buckle up, and we are going to dive in after a few housekeeping items.

So one thing I want to do is on your screen if you look to the right of the main stage, if at any time you need assistance during the live webinar, please message us in the help chat and we will jump in to assist. You can also ask questions via the Q&A tab on the sidebar. Your questions will only be visible to you and the Flexport team, and we will be answering questions in written form throughout the webinar in lieu of doing a live Q&A at the end.

A copy of the presentation slides will be dropped into the chat at the end of the webinar. We would also like to invite you all to our next webinar, which is going to be on May 11th. And it's about duty drawbacks. It's correct. Just because you pay duty doesn't mean that you can't draw it back at some point in the future. We will explain how some companies benefit from that program during the webinar May 11th. Again, we will provide registration links and lastly an on-demand version of this webinar will be available after we conclude. So we will give you access through the same link that you've used to join today.

A brief legal note, please keep in mind that all information provided in this session is based on the current situation at hand and may not be customized for your specific business requirements. We always recommend that you reach out to Flexport, talk to an expert to discuss your particular situation. But with that, I want to welcome our two guests. First, I want to introduce Shreya Maddireddy from Parade. Shreya welcome. Can you introduce yourself and tell us a little about Parade?

Shreya Maddireddy: Absolutely. Thanks, Ted. So Hi everyone, my name is Shreya Maddireddy, I'm the Director of Operations and Customer Experience for Parade. Parade is a sustainable fashion DTC startup that was founded in 2019. I have had the pleasure of being a part of Parade’s massive hyper growth for the past eight months, and I'm really happy to be here today and speaking with Hector and the rest of this team.

Ted Boeglin: Shreya, it is so great to have you. And I want to also introduce Hector Omoigui. Hector is with Reel Paper. Hector, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and Reel Paper?

Hector Omoigui: Sure. Absolutely. Thanks. Thanks for having me. Very happy to be here to speak with both of you. Reel Paper is an alternative fiber paper products company. We started also in 2019 we believe in sustainability, which is why all of our products are tree free and plastic free. And you know, we just have a giveback attitude. We partner with Soil at Haiti to help build toilets and yeah, we've also had some pretty good growth and you know, we just want to spread the word about alternative paper sources in the world, save the trees.

Ted Boeglin: That's fantastic. Well, I know sustainability is important to both companies' missions, and we're going to touch on that as we go through some of the content today. So just opening up, you know, I think that the audience is going to be really fascinated because both of your companies have experienced rapid growth over the last two years.

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But rapid growth oftentimes comes with challenges, especially when you're talking about supply chain and logistics, and especially when we're talking about the last two years. So just to sort of get us open and talking about things, I would love to know about the most difficult logistics challenge that you faced in the last couple of years, especially in the face of the market conditions and the growth expectations from your customers. So Shreya, maybe you can kick us off and talk about what has been most difficult in managing the supply chain for Parade.

Shreya Maddireddy: Yeah, it's been a really interesting experience for Parade so far. Especially since 2019, the brand has really just kind of exploded in the market. With that, comes a lot of scaling challenges.

So when I first started with Parade, it was a brand that was just doing bralettes and underwear and a couple different fabrics. But now since then, you know, we've launched new countries, we've launched new products, new styles, you know, now we're doing, you know, shirts and loungewear and everything. This is a great shirt, and it's been a really exciting time to be a part of that growth.

One of the biggest challenges that I've kind of faced so far is really coming into this industry without seemingly that much experience in international freight and warehouse logistics, and figuring so much of it out in a time that has brought with so many challenges across the supply chain.

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From shipments to constantly being delayed, you know, never knowing how long something is going to sit in a port, you know, banging at the customer's door trying to get, you know, shipments out, it's been a really fascinating to kind of grow and learn in this sort of environment particularly.

Ted Boeglin: Shreya, you told me something that I found fascinating, which was part of Parade's brand mission is also about inclusivity. Making sure that when everybody loads up, you know, their shopping cart is trying to check out on your website, that they see their size in stock. And you made an interesting point about one how difficult that is to do. It's not just staying in stock, but staying in stock in all of the right sizes. But you also made a comment that a lot of people think of demand driving inventory, but what Parade has realized is that inventory can also drive demand, meaning when customers see that they are included and cared for by the brands that they want to purchase from, they're more likely to come back, tell us more about how you navigated that challenge.

Shreya Maddireddy: Yeah, I think it's a really unique thing to our business, and for me, also being the Head of Customer Experience, something that was really critical to me is that, you know, we are representing our inclusivity constantly on our website. And you know, I as a medium sized person can go into the website, see many things in my size, and then go to my friend who has plus size and praise Parade, right. And it can be a great experience. But then when she goes on to the website, and she's not finding things in her size, that is a customer failure.

So for us, it is really critical for us to have that information and that knowledge kind of going into the demand planning that we're doing. So it can work in kind of complicated ways, right? So when you are looking at demand historically, let's say if we don't have those sizes on the website, or we're out of stock, we're then no longer selling those units, right.

So then when we are forecasting demand out, and we're saying, Well, we're selling 80% of underwear is largest and smaller. You know, what does that mean in terms of buying more for the plus sizes, you know, that can get really complicated. And so it's been really consciously aware and being very mission oriented about keeping our stock online, for our plus sizes, and really reflecting that inclusivity across the brand

Ted Boeglin: Shreya, thank you so much for sharing about that challenge. I mean, it sounds like the difficulty in keeping in stock, not just at the product level, but making sure that you have all of the sizes right, probably also puts a premium on being able to see your SKUs in transit, and having that SKU level visibility via a platform.

So it sounds like quite the complicated game of tetris that you all have to play across demand planning, supply chain, so thanks for sharing about that. Hector, let's turn it to you what was the most difficult challenge you faced at Reel Paper in the last few years.

Hector Omoigui: I mean, I'm sure we all remember the, you know, the run on toilet paper of 2020. And really just trying to put us in a position where we were completely stocked out. But then we were also kind of able to meet the moment. And then continue to meet the moment afterwards. Because, you know, shortly afterwards, everything started to kind of degrade as far as you know, capacity and reliability and supply chain and freight.

So I think, you know, my goal, you know, kind of since it's all gone down has been to really just keep us afloat and put us in a position where we can take advantage of opportunities. I think 2020 kind of open our eyes to on the one hand, what's out there and available.

I think people probably had their preferences when it comes to things like toilet paper and paper products and then realizing that they couldn't get them, open them up to experience different brands, and I'm glad that we were one of them. And yeah, we just needed to make sure that we retained them. And I think we did a really good job with that to prove that the subscription model had its benefits. And then you know, I had to make sure that we kind of met those expectations once we have them as part of our team. customer that is.

Ted Boeglin: Hector one thing you also mentioned to me was just the importance of sustainability for Reel Paper and how not just running a successful supply chain as did I meet my customers expectations, but also running a sustainable supply chain, can you share a little bit about how Reel thinks about supply chain and sustainability as two sides of the same coin?

Hector Omoigui: Sure, you know, we do our best when it comes to the supply chain. And establishing, you know, the different nodes or different warehouses in positions where maybe we don't have to truck as far. Obviously, you see that our boxes are pretty big.

So we offer quite a bit of product within the package, so that can reduce how much we're actually having to ship on a regular basis. We've partnered with Flexport to be a part of their carbon neutrality program. We really try to think of our operations in a way that are reliable, but then again, also sustainable, you know, our box, our product itself, as I mentioned, is plastic free, so we use a paper tape.

We, you know, we, how do I say? Yeah, and we continue to push and think about how else like right now we're looking into finding a way to also add carbon neutrality to our like, parcel, parts of processes as well. I think it's something that we wish was just kind of easy and easy to implement and easy to find. But the truth is, you really do have to kind of like to seek it out and that's something that we're just constantly working on.

Ted Boeglin: So if it adds complexity, you know, tell us why it's so important to both of your company's missions. How does it help you with customers? What's the upside of focusing on sustainability?

Shreya Maddireddy: Yeah, I think there's a massive upside. The obvious one is, it's the right thing to do. And I think, you know, we're headed towards a very scary climate crisis slash in a very scary climate crisis. And I think like, the more companies that are making this a mission of their business and prioritizing it in their business, even companies that you wouldn't expect it, it makes a huge difference, right? If a company switches over from air freight into vessels, right, that in and of itself, has a huge impact on the carbon emissions that you're putting out there, right, just as a business. And you don't need to be a sustainable company, you don't need to do recycled clothing, or recycled, you know, paper, that's any company can be sustainable, if you make that a priority.

Hector Omoigui: Yeah. Yeah, genuinely, you know, we, our product especially, it's not a reusable product, it's something inherently a waste product, right? And like, so we don't feel that it makes, I mean it doesn't, it really just doesn't make sense to utilize trees and to utilize things that don't quickly grow back, and of the Earth to make waste products, you know, we want to kind of change the paradigm as to how people think about things like that.

I think, you know, when it was first presented to me, as far as you know, here's a paper company that's trying to use an alternative source, it immediately made sense, it just kind of clicks with you. And I think for most people, that's true. It's just a matter of them being exposed to the reality that these products are out there and that they exist. And so hopefully, you know, by showing that it's something that you can accomplish, right, that you can have a successful business that is also sustainable, it pushes people and other companies to do the same. As Shreya have mentioned like we are, we're already in and we're already in climate change. It's just a matter of how much worse it's going to get.

Ted Boeglin: One of the reasons why we love working with both of your brands, because it's just such a philosophical alignment on the importance of carbon neutrality and supply chain, and we're going to touch on this later, too. But I think a big part is picking the right partners, you know, it's one click, go carbon neutral on your Flexport platform. And I know that there are a lot of other partners that you have to choose to work with to make that possible.

Another thing that I'm just fascinated by, you're both at extremely fast growing brands. You are both teams of one on the supply chain side. So I'm sure that's stressful. But the real question I have is like as your companies continue to grow, how do you plan to scale, how are you thinking about the balance of headcount versus driving efficiency through either tech or process? Maybe Hector, you can start off, but tell us how you plan to scale it real from your small but mighty team of one to, what comes next?

Hector Omoigui: Yeah, so we started, you know, I started with bringing in a couple of containers within, I don't know, a few months to bringing a large amount in a month, like, you know, tens of containers within just a single month, and then expanding our product lines, expanding our retail arm. And having tech be a part of that is huge.

There's a lot of manual work that goes into it, that can that you also don't want to just dish on to someone else. What you really want to do is make efficient processes and having technology and working technology into that is huge. However, certainly, you know, you want to continue to scale and you want to continue to bring on additional partners, additional retailers have additional distribution arms. And so with that is where I believe we'll then consider like actually adding on to the headcount.

But firstly, in order for us to even have gotten to this level, we needed to have the right systems in place and the right kind of technology, and as you mentioned, the right vendors in place. So that's kind of how I think about it.

Shreya Maddireddy: It's been a really wild ride. Like I said, when I first started, it was just bralettes and underwear. And then here we are launching a bunch of new styles, you know, looking at new country expansions, DTC retail partnerships. So obviously, I have given a lot of thought to how I want this team to grow and how I want this team to expand. Of course, when I first came in, I was a brute first operations person. So, so much of it was just setting up an organization of you know, what is going on in the system? How can I get answers to the right people?

I have lovingly called myself a Jishu queen, because I'm constantly finding ways to automate things. For me, the thing that I tell everybody is, if you're doing it over and over again, you're doing the same thing over and over and over again, it's the same task, automate it. There's a way to automate it somehow, because that is so boring to be doing the same thing over and over again.

So for me, it's been a lot of just like setting up automation, self serve, things that I can cut myself out as the middleman has been supremely key to me functioning in this job. But of course, as I'm thinking about kind of bringing on support and his team and thinking about how this team is expanding and growing, it's really about the different channels in which that we are prioritizing our business.

So, DTC is obviously a huge amount of our fulfillment. Right now, we've got one 3PL, a bunch of our suppliers out of Asia and a little bit out of Europe. But of course, we're thinking about retail partnerships, right? How do we get in store? How do we think about how that changes the nature of these relationships in store? So I think like thinking through those things, and you know, having dedicated resources on my team devoted to those different channels, is likely kind of the direction that this team is gonna go in. So until then, just a team of one Jishu queen over here trying to make it happen.

Ted Boeglin: You really did touch on, you both touch on like a lot of what I tend to hear. I tend to hear a lot of companies talk about landed costs, you know, it's like everybody's looking at landed costs and trying to optimize landed cost, but very few companies are also thinking about staffing cost. And, hey, you know, if I'm going to staff large teams, I need managers, I need recruiters, I need to, you know, have a knowledge base that they can tap into.

I was very interested, though, you said, you may need to add headcount to consider expansion into retail or to think about other channels. Why is that the key moment? What about that adds sufficient complexity or work that would require you to hire more people?

Shreya Maddireddy: Yeah, I think the reason why I said that is because those channels take a lot of dedication to them, right? Sometimes there is a seasonal element to it, especially in fashion in this type of work.

There are elements that are seasonal, right? Maybe one week is really high in terms of retail, maybe one week is really high in terms of DTC. Sometimes those things fluctuate, sometimes they're both on at the same time. And I think having the support to kind of meet those moments is so key and so critical, right?

So, you know, as we are thinking about in-store partnerships, we have now clients that we are beholden to. So making sure those relationships are aligned and working for both parties is, it takes dedication, so I think like having dedicated resources for those things, that you know, we're not splitting focus in the event that there are times where we will often need to split focus, but having dedicated resources for those things, I think are so critical.

Ted Boeglin: You've both used this term now meet the moment. Hector, you used it when describing the challenges of the beginning of the pandemic, and the rush on toilet paper that you all were part of. Shreya, you just mentioned it in saying, hey, when you're trying to craft new partnerships, you really need to meet the moment. What are some times you know, in the last, last 12 months, last 24 months where you really did feel you had to meet the moment. And when you needed to meet that moment, who were the partners that you relied on.

Hector Omoigui: I'll go ahead and go first and say, so we've recently expanded our store account, within Target. And it's, you know, throughout the pandemic, as I mentioned, I think we all were hoping that at some point, things would kind of start to ease up. And what I realized in the past 12 months, especially were was that our supply chain goals actually only got worse somehow, as time went on. And so, you know, getting into a retailer, such as Target is a huge deal, especially for us and needing products to be at a certain place by a certain time is huge.

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And I think like, throughout the past 12 months, you know, container reliability has been somewhere at around like 30%. And I think it's like 10%, just for LA. So being able to kind of get product where it needed to be, when it needed to be there with any degree of certainty was, you know, just the pain and scary, honestly. Because, like, we've been saying, we want to meet that moment, we want to be able to scale up and have the inventory there to take advantage of those opportunities, you've done all the right things, you've taken all the right steps, it's literally just a matter of like, hey, maybe your container will leave, maybe it won't, and you have to kind of deal with the repercussions of that.

So, you know, I'll say with a lot of planning and a little bit of luck, working with Flexport to just make sure that, you know, we were getting as much of a reliable service as we possibly could was huge working with our supplier to make sure that they were producing on time, working through potential lock downs, working through port closures, making those phone calls, sending those emails making sure that everyone was on the exact same page about how important everything was and feeling like they also took it on as as important on their end was huge.

Ted Boeglin: Hector, it's like you described so many of the difficulties that I think everybody watching this is going to be nodding their head and say, yeah, I can relate to that. You've managed to grow and secure new contracts and deliver for customers. So I think the question is, you know like, how have you done such a good job of managing through that volatility and managing all those trends?

Hector Omoigui: I think early on, again, I think we kind of got punched in the mouth a bit, probably before everyone else did, as far as with the whole, the run on toilet paper. So I kind of immediately felt the pressure. And from that moment, I was saying, okay, we just need to carry a little bit more stock, we just need to have a little bit more on hand, forecast a little bit further out. So that we can, so that we don't stock out, essentially, so that we have that buffer in case there's another spike in case, you know who knows what will happen, so we just wanted to be prepared. It's taken a lot of communication with the team to understand that like, hey, this is what's going to allow us to take advantage of these opportunities throughout this uncertain time, and to be a resource for people.

Again, we were able to kind of keep our subscriber base happy, because we had stock on hand. Whereas again, maybe other companies right now, you know, they couldn't get product in time to refill. Luckily for us, you know, we saw the writing on the wall very quickly, and we just kind of adapted our strategy.

Ted Boeglin: If you have a core group of people and really strong communication, decision making can happen faster and more clearly. It sounds like you all made really strong decisions with your partners to prioritize delivering for your customers. So I'm not surprised at all to hear that you all have been winning more business despite the volatility. Shreya, I mean Parade story as well is one of just rapid growth. I feel like I've seen a lot of news articles about Parade growth, funding, customer love. You said you also had to rise to the occasion and meet some moments, what are those, what were those moments for you?

Shreya Maddireddy: So, a huge thing that we did was move our 3PL to Mexico. And it's been a huge upgrade since then. So now we're going from three to four weeks of uncertainly time to three to five days of shipping. I mean, it's just a massive, massive upgrade to, I think our entire supply chain, our trust, our brand, everything with our customers. And then the second one, which is one of the best things that I got to be a part of with Parade was onboarding our recycling vendor.

So that's a huge moment that we met, because I think, again, a huge part of our community, a huge part of our Parade brand is focused on sustainability. It's focused on finding ways to be creative, and how we're able to contribute back to our green Earth, right.

So for us, this was really interesting, because in fashion there's massive amounts of waste generated by clothing, just unreal egregious numbers. And so we were trying to find an interesting way to kind of solve for that problem. And what we ended up doing was onboarding TerraCycle, one of our lovely recycling partners.

And now we've got this program where customers on our website can come order a recycled like poly mailer bag, we will send them a poly mailer, they will put all of their old old underwear in there, from any brand and it gets, we send them a shipping label, and they send it off to TerraCycle. From there, TerraCycle is finding second life opportunities for our products. And that's to us is again, really critical. And it's about kind of bringing that sustainability in all forms of that sense to.

Ted Boeglin: So, independent of Flexport, who are some of these partners that you all rely on to be able to create these magic moments for your customer, that you mentioned TerraCycle. Are there other partners that you would recommend to the listeners?

Shreya Maddireddy: Yeah, for sure. My biggest and best one is my warehouse, my 3PL, I rely on them daily, I communicate with them daily, they're a great group of people, XB Fulfillment if you ever see this, shout out to you, you guys are great. You know, it's kind of crazy how they never say no to us, you know, there are so many kind of new ventures we're kind of jumping into, we're like, hey, can you embroider clothes for us? They've never done that, or at least to my knowledge, they haven't done that before. But they say yes, they say yes to everything, which is fantastic. I almost wish sometimes as an ops person, they would start to say no. But they're, I mean, they've been amazing. And then apart from that, Happy Returns has been another really kind of key critical moment for us. Where, before Happy Returns, we didn't have a feasible way to kind of accept reverse logistics, especially when we were operating out of China, there's really no point in someone sending a return all the way back to China, only for us to also have to send it again back to the US. That was crazy.

So you know, it was kind of a very kind of frustrating financial pain point of the company, where we were refunding customers without physically being able to accept the product back and have another opportunity to resell it again. So that was a huge one, Happy Returns has been really great to work with. Since then they've been acquired by PayPal, which is kind of expanded out their product offering as well. So, and then of course, you said aside from Flexport, but shout out to Jake and Tom, you guys, and Nick, you guys are, you know, my backbone and have taught me so much since I've joined with Parade and heavily heavily relied on them.

Ted Boeglin: Jake and Tom, Nick are my backbone, I love those team members. So Hector, what about you? What partners would you recommend?

Hector Omoigui: Yeah, not to pit 3PL against each other, but I also feel like my 3PL has been a huge huge integral part of our success. So and the whole team at Flowspace, essentially that those are our guys and gals over there who really just have our backs when it comes to, I mean everything under the sun. To your point, we've had a couple of special projects with them that we needed to kind of implement on the fly, and they've said yes for anything we need any issues we have, they're quick to respond. And I think that's one of the biggest things, we actually changed. We switched 3PL mid, like after 2020, so like mid pandemic, and we moved to them and it was just a bit of night and day between the accountability, the transparency and the service level that we were getting.

They are definitely right there, you know, right hand. Right hand on the domestic side. Yeah and at least for me, as an ops that's in between them. And you guys, honestly, I'll give a shout out to Gary, who I know is no longer with the company, but he was he was awesome. Jake, Jake was also there, to Kylie on a team now. Yeah, you know, it's pretty awesome when you can just text your, you know, your freight forwarder your brokers and just kind of sort out any issues quickly over the phone, that level of service and that care is exactly why we partnered and why you use it, you know, why you guys actually our partners, you know.

Ted Boeglin: Well we feel the same way, likewise. So I want to take a little bit of a different direction now. So Shreya, I love that your role is actually in charge of operations and customer experience, I don't see that very often that, it's like actually in the title operations and customer experience. How do you view the interaction between those two?

Shreya Maddireddy: Yeah I think it's really tied together. I'm actually surprised people tell me this all the time that it's kind of a rare thing to have both of those roles combined, but I really loved it, I, the way that I describe it to people is that I'm responsible for the product, the second that it's done being manufactured at the factory. So the second that it's ready to be put on a boat, put on a flight, I'm coordinating with Flexport getting it to our warehouse and then getting it from our warehouse, to our customer, and then of course from a cx perspective, responsible for that customer experience up to 30 days after the customer has it.

So I think, you know, those two things, I think they give a lot of perspective into each other, right? I think kind of my ops background gives me perspective into a customer experience side where i'm thinking, how can I make, you know, how can I gamify, how can I surprise, how can I delight the customer experience, but how can I feasibly do it using operations. I think having that operations mindset, kind of explore, expands my brain into like, what is possible, what is in scope, how can I, you know, be creative with our collateral, how can I be creative with our gifting, finding ways to do that, and then in reverse again, it really, it constantly ties in, you know, when customers are contacting us about some SKU issue, because of course it happens, we've got 20,000 SKU’s, like SKU’s issues happen sometimes. And our customer support team is telling us, hey, 100 people have contacted us about some very specific SKU issue.

Those two things go tied, hand in hand together right, it's me going back to our operations team, our warehouse and saying, hey, what is going on here, you know, what is causing this issue. And you know having those two things married together I think allows me to kind of, again, gain better perspective into both.

Ted Boeglin: Both of those things I think are beautiful marriages of ops and customer experience. And Hector, I know that, you know Reel Paper has delivered a fantastic customer experience their subscriber base. How do you work with other team members within Reel Paper to make sure that customer experience and operations go hand in hand?

Hector Omoigui: Our CX manager there, he's, he's like our North Star, honestly. I feel like when they are the, you know, they're like, the tires on the road. They're there when it's making contact and kind of letting us know given us the feedback as to what's working and what isn't. So I genuinely use them as my compass. If ever there's an issue whenever we're seeing that something's becoming more of a pattern than we want it to be. That means it's time to go in and address it and to make changes and you know, he does a good, great job, shout out to V, V does a great job of keeping us honest and keeping us informed as to what's really happening. You know, for instance, early on our cases were just getting mangled by the carriers, you know, UPS, FedEx didn't matter. They were showing up, they were getting ripped open, you know, they were wet, and they just weren't surviving the journey.

So that made us kind of go back and be like, hey, you know, what, what can we do about this? It's not our fault, necessarily. And, you know, you try to address it with the carriers, but they're gonna do what they do. So it's like, hey we need a stronger box, we need stronger tape, we need to really sure this thing up for the journey, the beating that it's going to take up. So we did that, you know, we're close, we've pretty much all the decisions that we make at least at a product level and a process level, it's done through V, and when he's happy that means I know things are working well.

Ted Boeglin: One of the things that we hear a lot when we're talking to customers is that their cross functional partners are constantly asking them for data related to their supply chain. What requests are being made of you, for data, who makes those requests? And how have you found good systems to be able to satisfy those requests from finance or marketing or other teams who are coming to you for that information?

Shreya Maddireddy: Yeah, absolutely. You know, I hope there's a collective gasp when I say this, but we are operating right now without an ERP. So, so much of the business that we you know, that I walked into was so manual. And mind you, I think I mentioned this 20,000 SKU's, don't say that again. You know it got really messy, and so people were constantly in the beginning. Hey, Shreya, where's the SKU? Okay, well, what should what PO is it on? Oh, well, it's on this PO I think, I don't know. Okay, well, what sub shipment of that PO is that on? And it was kind of like a constant back and forth, where I was doing a lot of heavily data researching and trying to get them answers.

When until I said, enough. So again, Jishu queen, I created custom reports out of Flexport, I export them on a daily basis. And now I populate that into a data sheet that is then saying, okay, this is going to make the launch date, this is not going to make the launch day, this delay is now impacting this, this is who we need to contact, this is how we need to move forward. So on a daily basis, I'm updating my cross functional teams when things are delayed.

So, I think we we talked about this before, I don't think in this conversation, but so much of our business is seasonal, so much of our business is tied to specific dates, right? You don't want to be getting your sexy lingerie on February 17, you want to get it on February 10, in time for Valentine's Day. So you know, when we have those sorts of delays, they are critical in our business, and they are critical for our launches. So it's been so pivotal, I think, for us to have that information coming out of Flexport and a really quick and easy manner. And then from, like an order management system, I can't wait until I can onboard Flexport OMS like I am, you know, ripping up the seams to finally get to it. So, I think we are well at that position and I'm really excited to kind of see what that offering will be able to now enable us to do.

Ted Boeglin: Shreya, who benefits the most from this report that you're producing, like what teams at Parade couldn't live without it?

Shreya Maddireddy: Yeah, our production teams for sure. So I'm constantly telling them, hey, this factory is behind, we need to make this booking, this is not ready yet, or CRD as expected, they haven't made any bookings, what's going on. And then of course our launch team. So our growth or marketing teams, this is all critical information. I mean, product is literally the backbone of this business. Without product, there is no business.

Ted Boeglin: It's always amazing when I do talk to companies that don't have efficient systems for tracking or SKU, because that data is so valuable to use in business planning, and being able to do, you know, scenario planning, what if to decide, how much you should charge for your product to look at, you know, what can be the effects of inflation on the business going forward. I mean, it's even valuable for investors or, you know, if you're trying to secure a loan, so I mean, the value of that data goes so far beyond just trying to minimize freight costs. And I'm glad to hear that you all are using that data and weaving into other business processes, because I think that's where you really start to differentiate yourself operator as well.

Hector Omoigui: Yeah, we have to make decisions based off of what we're seeing in real time and then project out, hey, is this a long term reality or short term reality? Can we kind of live with this in the moment and do we see a benefit to continue to run X promotion? Or should we actually scale that back and maybe put that towards something else? That's not as cash intensive. So, yeah, it really is important, and that's where that communication again is key.

Ted Boeglin: Well and I have all, you know, you just have to hit the nail on the head of that. And I've even seen a lot of customers use transit time, you know, manufacturing lead times to help model out their cash to cash cycles, so they can estimate how much working capital they need. And that's always a big question for companies that are growing fast is how much working capital, are they going to need to fuel that growth? And it's extremely hard to model working capital needs accurately. If you don't have good data from the time you cut that PO until the time you're getting cash from the end customer. And it's really a black box if you don't have have structured data to make those assessments. And so then you don't know how much do you need to raise in venture, how big does the line of credit need to be from the bank to be able to fuel your growth. So totally agree and excited to see you all use data from the platform in innovative ways, so excited to excited to hear that.

Shreya Maddireddy: Yeah. Remember, someone told me once they they said, If you don't know your numbers, you don't know your business.

Ted Boeglin: Well, I love that.

Shreya Maddireddy: And I know that's so true, right? Like, if you don't know your numbers, you really have no idea what's going on in your business. And if you're not paying attention, you know, those cost per unit numbers, they'll creep up on you and those pennies.

Hector Omoigui: Yeah.

Shreya Maddireddy: Pennies that they creep up, like those are thousands, if not sometimes millions of dollars expenditure. So, yeah, it's so critical, I think, for us to have that insight into the business at this point.

Hector Omoigui: Absolutely.

Ted Boeglin: What do you wish you knew? If you rewind the clock back pre pandemic, before rapid growth? What do you wish you knew before you had that moment that you needed to rise to the occasion and meet your scale moment?

Shreya Maddireddy: Yeah, this is my general advice, particularly for any women out there. I read this in Lean In, in Sheryl Sandberg book, but she said, women often feel like they need to be 100% qualified for something to even consider applying for it. Don't, you don't need to be 100% qualified for something to be 100% qualified for it, you can figure it out. And I think you know, that's been my best learning from this job. Even talking to Hector has been so interesting, because both of us operate pretty similar, you know, DTC brands, but then even within that, there's so much variation within our businesses, that has us focused on very separate things.

So you will never be 100% qualified, or 100% experienced in whatever you're kind of going into. Just feel the confidence that you'll figure it out, and you will figure it out, you know, just kind of surround yourself by smarter people. Like I said, Jake, Tom, Nick, they taught me so much in the beginning, I was like, is this normal? Is this not normal? I don't know, can you tell me? Am I bothering you too much? No. And they're so they're so generous with their time and you know, with their knowledge, just be open to that be okay, with not having all the answers be okay with looking a little dumb. Be okay with that, because I think it really opens you up to learning and growing and being hungry and staying hungry. So I think like, you know, ladies, I was not a director for this position. Here am walking into a director level position and figuring it out. So that was 100% my advice is don't feel like you need to be 100% qualified for something to consider yourself ready for it.

Hector Omoigui: Speak up, you know, like, that's the biggest thing for me. It's speak up, don't be afraid, as Shreya mentioned, to look dumb or to seem as if though, or feel to judge, or judge yourself even for, you know, for not having the answer. More likely than not, you know, the answer isn't just out there, the answer is something that you'll need to figure out. And so I think, really speaking up and being open about your position on things being open about and how you always have tried to have a way in which you intend to tackle something, but never be, never necessarily feel like that's the right answer, like that needs to be how you do something. Yeah, that's really been the biggest kind of benefit on this team.

And I think that's been a huge, huge reason for why I've been able to be successful in this role. You know, we, we really strive to communicate as much as we can. It's a small team, so it's easy to do in a lot of sense, but also my team is great because they're willing to listen, and they're willing to tackle those kind of big challenges with me. So, yeah, to speak up and and own it, you know, on your decision making. It's okay to be wrong, you know, you just keep trying until you figure it out.

Ted Boeglin: I just want to say thank you so much Shreya and Hector, sort of as we're concluding today's webinar, you know, I couldn't have asked for two better guests. And I think it's amazing how similar and how different your experiences have been over the last two years. This is definitely a brain trust that I'll come back to when I want to reason about supply chain and talk about how to deal with the facts that we see on the ground. So thank you both for joining us. And for everybody who is listening, thank you so much for the great questions that you put into the chat. If we were unable to answer your question live, we will make sure that we follow up with you after the webinar. And if you enjoy this type of content, we have a newsletter that focuses exclusively on the most important topic for ecommerce companies. We will put a link to subscribe into the chat.

Ukraine Crisis How Can You Help

And before we say goodbye, we would also like to mention that flexport.org, which is our philanthropic arm is raising donations to send shipments of relief supplies to refugees from Ukraine. We will put another link in the chat if you want to explore more about how to participate in those relief efforts. And anything and everything is appreciated on that front as we try to meet our moment to help the refugees from Ukraine. Thank you everyone for joining us today. The copy of the slide deck and an access to the to this recording will be emailed to you. Thanks so much. Stay safe everybody and goodbye.

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