Blog

Anti-Brittle: Succeeding and Flourishing in these Uncertain and Volatile Times
Thu June 27, 2019

We are excited to share with you the latest video from Jim Tompkins, CEO of Tompkins International, supply chain and new retail strategy expert. Anti-Brittle: Succeeding and Flourishing in these Uncertain and Volatile Times focuses on the level of uncertainty and volatility organizations are facing today as a result of the digital era, disruption cycle, commerce, new retail, and technology innovations such as data science and robotics, to name a few. Tompkins’ continues to shape and grow the supply chain industry through innovative ideas, insight and reinvention.

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One-Day Delivery
Tue June 11, 2019

During a recent executive Q&A session, Jim Tompkins was asked a lot of questions regarding delivery strategies.  Many were interested in the reality of one-day delivery.  Amazon is disrupting themselves with one-day delivery.  One-day delivery is important in some cases but not all.  Amazon already has one-day delivery in most major markets. Tompkins does not believe 3rd tier markets will receive one-day delivery for some time, nor will they expect it.  Rather, the next stop on time of delivery will be same-day delivery where density will allow, such as major markets. 

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The ‘Power of Two’ for Flexible Online Fulfillment in Canada
Tue May 28, 2019

In Canada customer demands for more rapid and cost-effective eCommerce delivery are increasing daily.  Every week I speak with online sellers who, since the dawn of eCommerce, have successfully serviced Canada from one fulfillment operation.  Most have fixed national fulfillment operations positioned in Toronto, Montreal, or Vancouver and are currently rethinking this.  However, the days are now numbered for one eCommerce fulfillment operation being a viable customer delivery experience solution for Canada.

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Supply Chain Industry Executives Reveal Top Labor Challenges and Solutions
Thu May 23, 2019

A group of supply chain executives met over breakfast at this year’s Supply Chain Leadership Forum to share their views, experiences and current challenges. As it turns out, one topic was viewed so serious that it dominated the discussion. The question was, “How are you attracting and retaining top talent amidst the current labor shortage?”

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The Future Of Health Product Fulfillment Probably Will Not Look Like Anything We Have Seen Before
Tue May 14, 2019

Maybe it is a by-product of my chosen career, I have always been particularly intrigued with what the future holds for consumer experiences, particularly as it relates to health products.  In the post-scarcity, retail-space-at-a-premium economy that we seem to be hurtling towards, it is increasingly unlikely that buying decisions will be made amid cavernous, row-upon-row depots, jam-packed with products one on top of each other.  No one debates this.  Rather, the debate is what will come next.

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Grocery CPG’s adopting to the new world of Grocery
Tue May 07, 2019

Grocery has been a laggard for Direct to Consumer (D2C) but that is rapidly changing and is now considered among the fastest growth category for digital adoption.  Indeed, food and beverage forecasts for online sales are expected to increase 700 percent in seven years resulting in 20 percent of the $800B U.S. grocery market. 

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The Reality of CPG Online Growth
Tue April 30, 2019

The online portion of the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) industry has been on a rapid and steady rise for the past five years.  Online revenue increased five times since 2013 and three times since 2016.  These statistics indicate all is well in CPG sales online.  The reality is online sales compared to total sales are still below 5 percent, which is far from the average and levels of other industries.  Why is CPG lagging other industries?  

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How Robotics are Automating a Solution to the Labor Shortage & Growing Customer Demands
Thu April 25, 2019

Negative publicity and speculation that robots will eventually replace humans in the warehouse has circulated quite a bit in the last few years. While it’s true that robots are making their way into more and more operations, the truth is there are not enough skilled workers to fill the number of available jobs. ​

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Warehouse Robotics Outlook
Tue April 23, 2019

Warehouse robotics are growing at a rate that exceeds manufacturing robotics.  As key robotic skills improve and end users are educated in the best applications of robotics, robot adoption for warehousing tasks beyond transportation will become the drivers of growth in warehouse robotics.

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The Challenge of Strategic Alignment
Tue April 16, 2019

Strong strategic alignment among the people, processes, and technology components of a firm’s supply chain and across an organization have a huge impact on the success of the supply chain and the organization.  This has always been true, but in today’s complex, disruptive, competitive business environment, it is more difficult to establish and maintain this strategic alignment than ever before.  

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2019 Supply Chain Leadership Forum
Thu April 11, 2019

The 15th annual Supply Chain Leadership Forum (SCLF) is being held May 6-8 at the Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club in Durham, North Carolina. This year’s event will feature presentations from industry experts and live demonstrations of best-in-class supply chain technologies. 

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Elevating the Integration Approach
Tue April 09, 2019

Linking, sharing, and synchronizing data from diverse technology sources, also known as systems integration, is a critical aspect of supply chain management and is almost always ‘the long pole in the tent’.  In a world of rapidly changing technology integrating business systems, trading partners, service providers, applications, devices, and processes can be a highly technical undertaking, making even seasoned managers and executives feel powerless.  The resolution is simple, elevate systems integration to a business discussion.

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The Retail Revolution, What Do Customers Want?
Tue April 02, 2019

The world has never experienced a single marketplace where shoppers from anywhere in the world can buy from any vendor in the world, until today.  This single characteristic has fundamentally changed the complexion of how retail operates.  Early vendors knew their customers and provided products desired by their communities.  The efficiency of the mall changed the dynamic by forcing vendors to merge into a destination where goods could be efficiently delivered.

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Dynamic Transportation Planning in a Trade War
Tue March 26, 2019

The escalating trade war has significant transportation strategy and operations implications.  Tariffs are a tax on goods imported or exported.  The expense is tied to the transportation budget as part of the landed cost for a product or shipment.  This is an added complexity for transportation managers as they optimize mode, load size, and transit time, as well as cost.

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FIRST LEGO League Challenge
Wed March 20, 2019

It’s never too early to nurture young talent, so we were thrilled when Jill Hanstein, Robotics Instructor at Teague Middle School in Altamonte Springs, Fla., reached out to us about sponsoring their Robotics Teams in the FIRST LEGO League Challenge this season.

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The Advantage of Multi-Channel Reach
Mon March 18, 2019

It has been a very busy time for everyone trying to keep up with the latest news from Amazon. From the closure of their recently opened pop-up stores to the deluge of changes to their Vendor Central program and subsequent lifting of their restrictive seller pricing policies, the eCommerce giant has been quite unpredictable lately.

Most notably, on March 4, Amazon did something huge and completely unexpected. If you did not hear about it, do not worry, you were not supposed to ...

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Increasing Profitability Through Inventory Optimization
Mon March 11, 2019

Planning and execution have been more blurred in recent times, as technology is now providing users access to near real-time visibility and data, enabling them to adjust plans to meet reality. One of the most important execution issues is the management of inventories, especially in the new world of demand-driven operations. In traditional execution, inventories are pushed out to Distribution Centers/Fulfillment Centers (DCs/FCs) and business customers with expectations that those customers would need them at some point in time. Thus, deploying the inventory push to the network of DCs/FCs for customers has been the business objective. As business customers have become more sophisticated, and consumers have demanded more personalization and online buying, demand-driven operations have required more ‘pull’ inventory, which means decentralizing only which will be sold in the short term (think ‘sell one, replace one’). Therefore, distributed inventories based on pull for order fulfillment, or inventory flow, must complement the pull inventories at DCs/FCs for larger business customers. This new operating strategy has changed the business objective for the execution of product distribution, and in turn, created many challenges within the supply chain.

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The Economy and the Supply Chain in 2019
Wed February 27, 2019

I am not an economist, but I think it is important to stay informed as the economy has a huge impact on supply chains.  

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Steady State Supply Chains Must Be Replaced With Anti-Brittle Supply Chains
Mon February 18, 2019

Let me begin by saying “steady state” is an obsolete phrase. Corporate supply chains must be able to constantly adapt and evolve in order to survive and thrive in today’s fast-paced, dynamic environment. The frequency and impact of disruptions have grown exponentially over the last several decades, and are forcing companies into a state of continuous evolution.

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Supply Chain Planning and Network Design
Tue February 12, 2019

The greatest weakness of supply chain planning has been the overall topic of network design.  The current state of the art network design, models a variety of networks in an attempt to define the network of facilities that allows for the satisfaction of customer service requirements at a minimal cost for transportation, inventory, investment, and operating costs.

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Tompkins Robotics’ t-Sort Receives Product of the Year Award
Wed February 06, 2019

Tompkins Robotics’ t-Sort system has been selected by Modern Materials HandlingMaterial Handling Product News and Material Handling 24/7 as a winner of their fourth-annual Readers’ Choice Product of the Year Awards. t-Sort was the winning product in the category of conveyors and sortation. Tompkins Robotics is a business unit of Tompkins International. 

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The Key to a Distributed Logistics Solution
Mon February 04, 2019

As retailers and brands develop their unichannel solutions, there is a continuing focus on how to improve last mile delivery costs and the customer experience.  Last mile delivery consumes a significant portion of the total delivered cost of a product.  Retailers are experimenting with lockers, consumer pick-up, and optional delivery solutions aimed at reducing these costs. The real solution to reducing the cost of the last mile is distributed logistics and the distributed inventory flow forecasting that enables supply chains to work best.  

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Initial Results with MonarchFx
Thu January 31, 2019

MonarchFx, a business unit of Tompkins International, has just released its newest video, Initial Results with MonarchFx. This is the second video of the series, Get to know MonarchFx, the first video of the series discusses MonarchFx’s benefits for retailers, brands, and consumers. View the second creative, clever, animated video that explains the sales performance benefits when using the MonarchFx distributed logistics ecosystem. 

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Amazon is Gradually Unleashing the Power of its Whole Foods Acquisition
Tue January 29, 2019

My friend Brittain Ladd wrote an article for Forbes that posted on December 20, 2018, Was Acquiring Whole Foods Amazon’s ‘Bridge Too Far’? Well done Brittain, I have received several questions as a result of your article. The best questions were, “do you think Amazon is happy with their acquisition of Whole Foods and do you think Amazon will invest in growing the Whole Foods ecosystem?” These are great question, but one that goes deeper than the acquisition of Whole Foods.

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MonarchFx Has Partnered With Vanguard Software
Thu January 24, 2019

We are excited to announce that MonarchFx, a business unit of Tompkins International, has partnered with Vanguard Software. Vanguard Software is an internationally recognized leader of supply chain planning software solutions.

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The Robot Revolution
Mon January 21, 2019

Going into the new year, we expect to see many reports discussing problems faced during the 2018 holidays. We will also see many success stories from companies that learned from their past holidays and have joined the robot revolution.  

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Tompkins International Recognized as a Best Logistics Consulting Firm by ALM Intelligence
Thu January 17, 2019

Tompkins International has been recognized as a top leader in the consulting industry by ALM Intelligence Consulting division, previously known as Kennedy Consulting. Tompkins International was selected due to the ability to create impact for clients and overall logistics consulting capabilities.

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Tompkins International Identified by ALM Intelligence as a Best Logistics Consulting Firm
Thu January 10, 2019

ALM Intelligence Consulting division, previously known as Kennedy Consulting, has released its 2018 ratings of logistics consulting providers, naming Tompkins International as one of the top six leaders in the consulting industry. 

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Assisting Sellers with Inventory Management
Thu January 03, 2019

Managing inventories in the digital age is even more challenging than with traditional supply chains.  Inventory policies and processes established for volume sales and bulk shipments for a multi-tier network are ineffective when positioning stocks for fulfilling online orders for items, “eaches”.  Demand planning and inventory planning systems must be modified to accommodate intermittent, varied demand, and the increasing uncertainties that characterize eCommerce.

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The Real Cost Of In Store Fulfillment
Thu December 06, 2018

MonarchFx’s distributed network of fulfilment centers (FC) can boost profits by shifting eCommerce order fulfillment to FCs and away from stores.

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Reinventing Retail: What Investment Is Required?
Tue December 04, 2018

I read an interesting quote recently, “The truth is you cannot reinvent a retailer on the cheap,” Neil Saunders, GlobalData Retail. It led me to think more about what is really required by all types of retailers to compete in the changing world of The New Retail, which started in China and is now impacting all retail in North America. 

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How To Connect Directly With Your Customers
Thu November 29, 2018

For brands to succeed in The New Retail world they must seize control of their own destiny. “The New Retail is the complete integration of online, offline, logistics, and technology into a single value chain that places customer centricity and convenience above all else,” stated Michael Zakkour, VP with Tompkins International. 

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MonarchFx’s Information Technology Suite
Thu November 15, 2018

What are the technology breakthroughs MonarchFx is bringing to the table that will improve supply chain excellence?

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What are the benefits of MonarchFx?
Thu November 01, 2018

What are the top three reasons why sellers should consider MonarchFx?

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Retail Holiday Sales 2018: View From the C-Suite
Tue October 30, 2018

I have already seen projections, predictions, and political oriented statements about Holiday 2018 for both online and in-store sales for the U.S.

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Responding to Supply Chain Disruptions
Thu October 25, 2018

How can companies deal with the pace of disruptions occurring today?  As the pace of disruption has changed in a major way over the last 60 years, therefore too should the approach we use to deal with this change.

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How To Make The Each Supply Chain Efficient
Wed October 17, 2018

NextGen Retail Supply chain, is it inefficient, difficult, and expensive?

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When Healthcare Meets eCommerce
Tue October 16, 2018

It seems that not a day goes by without seeing news about Amazon or some trendy new start-up trying to disrupt the consumer shopping experience. More soberly, observing neighborhoods and cities now being dominated by empty storefronts and shopping malls.  While we live in a country that invented the modern shopping mall, consumers are increasingly seeking out the latest and greatest in Unichannel shopping experiences instead. It does not stop at retail. Traditional retailers are now getting into the health business. Amazon bought Whole Foods, a grocer that began as a health food store and PillPack, an online pharmacy startup. In the biggest retail healthcare deal yet, CVS is buying Aetna for a proposed $69 billion, bringing together a retail chain with nearly 10,000 stores and a major national health insurer.

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The Each Supply Chain
Thu October 11, 2018

How has digital disrupted supply chains and do these disruptions also impact the supply chains of traditional retail?

Each for eCommerce

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The Healthcare Logistics Solution
Tue October 09, 2018

Benjamin Patipa, MD., Vice President of Healthcare Strategy for MonarchFx, has just recorded a new video The Healthcare Logistics Solution. Patipa explains why the healthcare product supply business as we know it has changed forever, why sellers must switch to a single unified supply chain, and MonarchFx’s healthcare logistics solution.

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Amazon Has Challenges Too
Thu October 04, 2018

There is a subliminal fear of Amazon because they have so much scale, what are your thoughts? Amazon is very good, no question. They too have challenges.

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Online Order Fulfillment: A Summary Comparison of MonarchFx with 3PL Common Practices
Tue October 02, 2018

Sellers of products online, when selecting a fulfillment provider, are asking how MonarchFx compares to contracting directly with a 3PL.  This article summarizes the critical success factors that should be considered and how the respective solutions compare.

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Product Firm vs Service Firm – Is There a Difference?
Thu September 27, 2018

Is MonarchFx is a product firm or a service firm?

Consulting firms and 3PLs are service firms, MonarchFx is not. Service firms begin with a client’s requirements and develop a customized solution. Service firms have a project orientation. The customized solution is a one-off application of process, people, and technology to address a certain set of requirements.

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How to Disrupt Your Competition
Thu September 20, 2018

What are the biggest drivers disrupting today’s supply chains?

Here are my top five drivers creating disruption:

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Labor Concerns within the Supply Chain Field
Thu September 13, 2018

There seems to be a big talent gap in supply chain – how can we solve for it?

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Key Inventory Management Terms
Tue September 11, 2018

In this discussion, we review those critical activities in managing inventory.  We help you decouple the terms and recognize the magnitude of work needed to effectively manage the inventory you invest in.

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How to Challenge Amazon
Thu September 06, 2018

Which company, if any, can challenge Amazon? My answer may surprise you ...

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The Benefits of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)
Tue August 28, 2018

Each year the National Retail Federation (NRF) publishes the shrinkage realized within the all aspects of the retail industry.  With shrink consistently hovering around 1.4%, tightening margins require that retailers become more creative to sell enough goods to cover this loss.  When you apply this percentage against the industry revenue, what appears to be a manageable number equates to an estimated $46.8B in 2018. 

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Achieving Revenue Gains from Distributed Logistics
Tue August 21, 2018

The rapid growth and expansion of eCommerce has raised and highlighted important questions for all companies involved in online sales

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Democratizing Artificial Intelligence for Supply Chain
Thu August 16, 2018

With all the hype around Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data science these days, it’s easy for sellers to feel lost in the mix.

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The Benefits of Augmented Fulfillment
Tue August 14, 2018

As previously discussed, Augmented Fulfillment (AF) is the addition and integration of a specialized suite of technology, flexible automation and forward micro-fulfillment locations which will effectively 'augment' your current fulfillment network allowing you to improve next day and same day delivery to consumers.

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Augment Your Current Fulfillment Network
Tue August 07, 2018

Augmented Reality (AR) utilizes technology to provide additional insights and abilities in the real world, with one example being the Google Translate app's ability to take a picture of text in many languages and then immediately translate it for you onscreen. An excellent AR app to help you understand signs or menus in foreign countries, or even that fancy restaurant around the corner.

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Why Accurate Prediction isn't Always Enough
Tue July 24, 2018

When looking through data science case studies, posts, and articles you will likely notice the majority focus on prediction, not inference. Although this is not necessarily surprising, it is important to not overlook the value of inference. The difference between these is significant so it is critical to understand when you should pursue one versus the other.

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Amazon’s 2018 Prime Day Sales Event
Thu July 19, 2018

As Amazon concludes another successful Prime Day and begins to report the impressive results of the expanded 36 hours, we at MonarchFx would like to offer some comments.

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The Automated Local Fulfillment Imperative
Fri June 08, 2018

Having been a contributor to many SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats) analyses for e-commerce service providers, retailers and even CPG manufacturers, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve warned all who would listen that fulfillment automation (or the lack thereof) will be a significant threat to their online business in the future.

Today I’m going even further to state that this threat has now evolved into what I’m coining as simply ‘The Automated Local Fulfillment Imperative.’

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150 Days Until the 2018 Holiday Season… Still Time to Use Augmented Order Fulfillment Services
Thu May 24, 2018

For many organizations, peak order fulfillment and returns crunch time is only 150 days away or less.

Remember last year? Why are you sweating? Do you remember the process and equipment improvements you were going to implement to make you, your staff’s and your organization’s lives less stressful. Did they get done?

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Inside an Executive Meeting at the 2018 Supply Chain Leadership Forum
Wed May 16, 2018

At this year’s Tompkins Supply Chain Leadership Forum (SCLF) two executives from a retailer asked me if they could meet for 15 minutes to address a question their board had asked them. We met at 7PM at the Tuesday evening, Night at the Ballpark, event. We grabbed a corner table. After a few pleasantries the CEO opened his notebook, it was clear our meeting had started.

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How Getting Logistically Closer to Your Customers Means More Sales
Wed May 16, 2018

Customer Experience is a complex thing. Many companies now spend countless hours focusing on the online and offline journeys of their customers looking for any possible ways to improve and reduce the ‘friction’ encountered by consumers who do business with them.

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Meeting Consumer Needs Through Multiple Channels
Thu May 17, 2018

With the historic rate of brick and mortar retail operation closures, the competitive stress of eCommerce is deeply upon us.

Many have blamed the reduction in customer traffic in brick and mortar stores as a reason for the decline. Rather, is this a reflection of the store experience or a real change in the traffic behaviors of the base consumer? At the same time, businesses that offer high customer service (e.g. Starbuck’s, Chick Fil-A, and Apple) have carved out a competitive stronghold with price not being the driver.

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Why Should You Choose MonarchFx?
Wed March 28, 2018

Can you continue to provide the delivery windows your customers expect? If so, at what cost?

The challenge of satisfying customers delivery expectations becomes more difficult as the requirements continue to change and evolve.

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Does Your Supply Chain Generate Good Customer Service and Good Profitability?
Thu March 15, 2018

1. We are torn between shipping our eCommerce orders fast and expensive vs. slow and cheap, how should this be addressed?

2. In 2016 we were pushing hard to hit two-day delivery for 50% of the U.S. and three-day delivery for the additional 50%. In 2017 we were pushing to hit next day delivery to 25% of the country and two-day to 75% of the U.S. How far can this go?

3. For retailers with brick and mortar, is using stores as fulfillment centers viable?

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Fast is expensive but cheap is slow, until now
Mon February 12, 2018

Whether it is a Ferrari vs. a Fiat or a Jet Engine vs. a Propeller, generally speaking, to move something quickly has a higher cost than to move it slowly. The ability to move fast at a lower cost is a challenge that has pervaded the supply chain industry for years.

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Is the Beauty Industry at Risk?
Wed January 17, 2018

The growth of the beauty industry is staggering. Beauty, whether green, prestige, or mass is on the rise, as is Amazon. It is not farfetched that beauty may be Amazon’s next big play.

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The Reports of the Death of Brick & Mortar are Greatly Exaggerated
Fri June 02, 2017
Today, June 2, 2017 I picked up a journal article that stated that the death of Brick & Mortar is upon us, which is a complete exaggeration. Mark Twain faced a similar dilemma 120 years ago, June 2, 1897, when he replied to a New York Journal article stating, “The report of my death was an exaggeration”, in which the journal confused him, with a seriously ill cousin. read more
The High Variable Cost Structure of Omnichannel Order Fulfillment
Mon May 08, 2017
One of the serious challenges with building omnichannel order fulfillment operations and information systems is the fact that there is an inherent variable cost structure that is unavoidable in this strategy and business model. The challenges with fulfillment network location and optimization, inventory allocations and assortments, variable process operations, and system features and functions, are examples of the causes of increasing costs to supply chains, logistics, and inventory management. read more
What's in a Name: The MonarchFx Alliance?
Sat April 01, 2017
The four parts of The MonarchFx Alliance’s name: Monarch: Our representation of reinvention is the Monarch. The beautiful butterfly that results from the metamorphosis from egg, to caterpillar, to cocoon, and finally to the butterfly. This is how we view post-clique logistics. From a corner in a Distribution Center (DC) to a separate Fulfillment Center (FC), to a network of DC/FCs with a specialized “Get Local,” automated multi-tenant commingled FC’s. A beautiful reinvention that provides for significant cost reduction, speed, and enhanced customer satisfaction.