Sears – Achieving Home Delivery Excellence

Home delivery is a hot segment of omni-channel retailing and one of the best customer presentations at last year’s Descartes Evolution 2015 conference was from Sears. Joe Macro, Director of Logistics and Planning, and Steve Rutkowski, Director Logistics Systems from Sears provided a very detailed overview of the company’s journey toward becoming, as they put it, “the UPS of Big Box” — in other words, Sears is aiming to provide the same level of service for big box orders and deliveries (such as appliances, lawn and garden, and furniture) that consumers have come to expect with small parcel orders and deliveries.

In the short video below, just released by Descartes (a Talking Logistics sponsor), several Sears executives and team members — including Joe Macro, Bill Hutchinson (SVP Supply Chain), Kris Eyunni (VP Supply Chain, Home Delivery Distribution), and Catherina Taylor (Manager, Member Experience Office, South Region) — provide additional insight on the company’s journey to achieving home delivery excellence.

Here are some of my key takeaways from their comments:

  • Sears clearly understands that managing the end-customer experience is the most critical factor in last-mile delivery. As Ms. Taylor states, the main focus of the Member Experience Office is to “ensure our members [customers] receive a ‘Wow’ home delivery experience.”
  • Batch and static planning systems fall short of meeting customer expectations. “The biggest problem with our old proprietary solution was that it was a batch job,” explained Joe Macro. “Every day our last orders came in at 3:30 pm and the team had to quickly develop the routing solution by 6:00 pm. It was a one-time shot of getting the routes right.” Christina Gross, Sacramento Routing Manager, then added: “Because we’re now working with a live, real-time system, we’re able to make adjustments and see those reflected in the routes right away. So between the planning aspect of getting the 14-day look ahead and sometime prior to the morning of dispatch, we’re able to manipulate the routes, make adjustments if necessary…and have the routes update immediately.”
  • Flexibility and ease of use were key considerations for Sears when evaluating solutions, along with mobile capabilities for real-time execution and visibility. “When you combine flexibility with ease of use, it’s a pretty powerful statement,” commented Kris Eyunni.
  • Companies can deploy cloud-based route planning and execution solutions relatively quickly. In Sears’ case, it took about six months to deploy Descartes’ solution across 106 delivery hubs in the company’s network.

Sears has a long history in home delivery, but kudos to the company for recognizing that it needed to change the status quo and transform its delivery processes and technology — not only in transportation, but warehousing too. The journey to achieving home delivery excellence is never ending, as customer expectations continue to get more demanding, but Sears is ahead of most in getting there.