"We had three customer segments with three delivery methods, but we now have married together all of our inventory and processes to serve commercial businesses and residential consumers ordering online as well as retail stores," says Rick DiMaio, vice president of logistics operations. "A very aggressive plan rolled out over several years laid the groundwork for us to be truly omni-channel today," he says.
Combining inventory allowed the company to pull out working capital and invest more in customer satisfaction, says DiMaio. One example of this is more tailored services for customers. This might mean daily dock deliveries for some businesses and delivery direct to desktops for others. Similarly, residential consumers can opt to have deliveries left on the front porch or delivered and set up inside. Retail stores might have shrink-wrapped stock delivered to a back room or placed directly on the store shelf.
"We have a sales group that finds out exactly what our customers' needs are and we tailor our services to meet those needs," he says. DiMaio notes that Office Depot provides next-day delivery to more than 90 percent of the U.S. population, both residential and business. Stores also are serviced every day in a rapid replenishment environment, he says.
In terms of future supply chain trends, DiMaio expects greater efforts by supply chain partners to leverage each other's assets, he says. "Overall, there will be more reliability on systems, which means systems will need to be adaptable and capable of handling multiple functions."
Sustainability will continue to be a differentiator, he says. If price is about equal, the greener company will win the business, DiMaio says. He notes that Office Depot was a pioneer in replacing corrugated packages with plastic reusable totes. "This results in less material and lower cost and it is better for the environment," he says. "Our customers love it."
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