The World of E-Commerce and Fulfillment with GEODIS e-Logistics
Episode Transcript
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On this episode of Everything is Logistics, host Blythe Brumleve welcomes Reed Loeffel, manager of merchant acquisition and strategy at GEODIS e-Logistics, to discuss the world of e-commerce and fulfillment. Blythe and Reed reminisce about meeting at the Manifest logistics conference and discuss the infamous GEODIS puppy lounge sponsorship that garnered lots of attention.

The conversation touches on the latest trends in e-commerce, the challenges of fulfillment in a fast-paced industry, and how e-commerce companies can optimize their supply chain networks.



The listener will learn about GEODIS eLogistics, a logistics company that offers end-to-end services for e-commerce brands, including packaging, fulfillment, and delivery.

The episode discusses the company’s use of robotic systems, the importance of building a strong website, and the challenges of managing returns and inventory levels during COVID. The guest speaker shares their expertise in e-commerce logistics, including insights on trends, challenges, and best practices, and the potential impact of AI on jobs in the marketing industry.


[00:00:25] Geodes eLogistics and e-commerce.

[00:06:13] E-commerce fulfillment and delivery.

[00:07:33] International Fulfillment Department.

[00:11:22] Robotics in e-commerce.

[00:15:54] Robotics in warehouse operations.

[00:19:02] E-logistics and customer experience.

[00:21:30] E-Logistics and Warehousing.

[00:25:14] When to reach out to 3PL.

[00:29:00] My e-Logistics Portal.

[00:33:11] Reverse logistics solutions.

[00:36:18] Returns as customer retention.

[00:40:03] Launching a new product.

[00:44:42] Opportunities for e-com brands.

[00:48:35] E-commerce logistics expertise.

[00:51:23] AI as a tool in marketing.

[00:54:21] Puppy video and show notes.



At SPI Logistics they have industry-leading technology, systems, and back-office support to help you succeed. Learn more about SPI’s freight agent program here. Make sure to let them know we sent you!

Digital Dispatch helps you speak confidently about ROI with a website built for your customers, prospects, and employees. With plans starting as low as $90/month, learn how you can take your website from good to great by visiting Digital Dispatch.



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Show Transcript

See full episode transcriptTranscript is autogenerated by AI

Blythe Brumleve: 0:00

LinkedIn presents welcome into another episode of everything is logistics, a podcast for the thinkers in freight. I'm your host, Blythe Brumleve. And I'm happy to welcome in Reed Loeffel. He is the manager of merchant acquisition and strategy at GEODIS e-logistics. And we're going to be talking about the world of E commerce and fulfillment because a lot of stuff has been going on over the last few years. I don't have to tell any of y'all that I certainly don't have to tell Reed that. But welcome to the show. Thank you.

Reed Loeffel: 0:36

It's pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me on.

Blythe Brumleve: 0:38

Absolutely. Now, now, the first time we met was back at manifest future of logistics back in late January, early February. And we were surrounded by some very difficult guests that made it very difficult to have a conversation. And of course, I'm talking about the infamous puppy lounge sponsored by GEODIS. I think it's the best sponsorship money can buy, frankly, just because of the amount of people that just gravitate towards this area. For folks who don't know, it's a little lounge area. And you can literally sit on the ground and they bring in puppies, and they just run all over you and run all around and they sometimes sleep on you. And it's just a really like beautiful experience to get away from all the peopling at the conference. So read it that is where we first met. So hopefully Did you take any puppies home that that? Oh, gosh,

Reed Loeffel: 1:29

I certainly wanted to I don't know how my, my sheepadoodle at home would have felt about that. But yes, it was a pleasant distraction during during the trade show and certainly as a fan favorite. So kudos to the marketing group and everybody that got that together. It's it's always a, it's always a blast getting to see puppies wherever you are.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:50

And we had to do so you were kind enough to accept my interview to say, Hey, can you sit on the ground with me and do this quick, like one minute logistics interview? And you had to answer a bunch of questions with the puppies all around us? Was that a very was that a challenging conversation to have? I barely remember what we talked,

Reed Loeffel: 2:09

I couldn't tell you a single thing that I said, a lot of focus on the puppies. But hey, I mean, again, anytime that you have, you know, precious, adorable puppies around you is going to be a good time. So yeah, I couldn't tell you anything that we talked about. So excited to kind of pick up the conversation here today.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:28

Right? He did say, Yeah, that. So for folks who are just listening, I will link to that video in the show notes. So you can see exactly what we are talking about. And you know, the challenge that was in front of us with even trying to pretend like we were listening to it. So that's why we're having a more formal discussion today. So So read back to, I guess, sort of the business at hand. You know, for folks who may not be familiar with GEODIS, with the logistics brand with you yourself? Can you kind of give us a background of your transportation logistics experience? Maybe you had that before? GEODISbefore you joined the team, give us a sense of your background, and then how you eventually joined the team at over a god yeah, absolutely

Unknown: 3:08

blind. So I actually I'm a child of logistics. My father was a lifelong industry. God and Osbourne has the logistics before that. And so this industry has been a part of my life, basically, since I was born. So where my career started, was actually working in the warehouse during summers and winters in between semesters, both in high school and in college. So I learned a lot about the actual day to day operations got to meet with really the the life force of logistics, which is the actual employees on the floor, who are doing the day to day operations. So started there, you know, really throughout 2012 into 2016. So, got a lot of experience operating an electric pallet jack, stacking pallets, the whole nine yards. So my actual corporate career started here with GEODIS, back in February of 2020, which actually coincides with another event where I was actually working on our international freight forwarding team. So managing imports exports into and out of the United States Customs clearance. So really learned a lot about that side of the business for about a year and a half, when I actually moved over to our warehousing side of the business in our contract logistics department, so it was there for a couple of months. And then the opportunity arose for me to come over and join the geo to see logistics team. So I've been on this team, managing our Merchant acquisition activities for about two years now. So all in all, roughly around three and a half years of experience in the corporate world here at GEODIS, located here in Brentwood, Tennessee, Eat. So that's really the extent of my logistics experience. And just a little bit more about GEODIS as a whole. So GEODIS is actually a French based company, headquartered in Paris, France. So we actually have offices all over the world. And are America's headquarters is here in Brentwood, Tennessee, where I'm located. So as a part of that God has been around for over 100 years, is actually, you know, a part of the French government. And, you know, like I mentioned stations all over the world. So it's a massive company. But we really do have the, you know, small feel, and we're really not that widely known out in the market, but we are a massive player in the market. So from that standpoint, you know, GEODIS offers anything from like I mentioned, freight forwarding business to warehousing, transportation management, really full supply chain optimization across the board. So that's really GEODIS In a nutshell, but what I manage in the team that I'm on is called E logistics. So E Logistics is actually a newer product, two GEODIS that is focused mainly on E commerce, fulfillment, and final mile delivery. So, you know, with all of the growth, and I'm sure that we'll talk about it more here later on about how much e Commerce has exploded, this is something that God has certainly wanted to make sure that we were offering to our clients, so heavily focused on digitally centered brands, you know, whether it's a small emerging brand, all the way up to some of your largest enterprise, businesses that you see here in the world. That's really what what we're focusing on right now and the logistics.

Blythe Brumleve: 6:48

So you really have like a plethora of experience within the logistics space, like it's one of those like it grabbed you early on and never let you go. Absolutely,

Unknown: 6:57

yes. And I've been very fortunate to kind of bounce around to different teams here in GEODIS. And learn as much as I can about the business, which is ultimately helped me, you know, work with our clients and help them understand, you know, where they can continue to improve in their current processes, and also just give them a little bit of insight into the different channels that we can offer them. So it's it's been a blast.

Blythe Brumleve: 7:23

And I would imagine that joining the International, the International fulfillment department is I think that's what you said for in February of 2020 was a real crash course in a lot of different aspects in just global logistics, is that a safe assumption? Yes,

Reed Loeffel: 7:39

it sure is, I always, you know, bring it up and joke around, I was actually having a conversation with my manager at the time. Because, you know, coming into a new role and being international, I started to do my research about, you know, what countries we were going to be working through, we have departments that are actually located in other countries. So we were having to communicate across time zones into really locations all over the world. And so as a part of that, and obviously, with a majority of shipments coming into the US from China, that is where a lot of my study focused. So I would joke around with not joke around but you know, lean over to my manager and say, Hey, there's, you know, some kind of virus that that's out there, should we be worried about this? And he said, No, get back to work, don't worry about it. So now, now we can sit back and kind of laugh about it. But But yes, it was a very interesting time for me, in navigating my clients during that time, and all the disruption that happened during the beginning of the pandemic,

Blythe Brumleve: 8:41

but I'm sure that that experience on the international level set you up perfectly for helping a lot of E commerce brands in the United States.

Reed Loeffel: 8:51

Oh, absolutely. And, you know, dealing with the International pieces is really just a small sector of the entirety of supply chains. So, learning the front end, and you know, we always hear, you know, first mile middle mile final mile. So the first mile in my opinion is how are we going to get this product from the manufacturer to the states into our facilities. So having that that knowledge before I came into the actual fulfillment operation was extremely beneficial, both for my teammates as well as the clients that I work with every single day.

Blythe Brumleve: 9:28

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Reed Loeffel: 10:19

I believe so. I mean, it's, it's such a volatile market that I only see growth opportunity in this market. I mean, the pandemic, I mean, for obvious reasons It drove folks home at reduced the amount of exposure that you could find in a brick and mortar store or your ability just to go out and do your traditional shopping. So it really did drive E commerce, and it drove these brands to think differently about how they were going to reach their clients. And it really just caused an explosion for E commerce.

Blythe Brumleve: 10:55

And so what when we I guess, when we talk about the companies that maybe you're working with it is on the logistic side of things? Is it you know, kind of a specific commodity? Is it a, you know, a specific thing that they make? Is it you know, a certain revenue? What kind of customers are good for, for geodis? E logistics grand?

Reed Loeffel: 11:16

Yeah. So, I mean, we, and I'll answer that question with a little bit about how we operate, right. So we heavily utilize robotic systems inside of our facilities. So that's a mixture of Lucas robotics, as well as our brand new state of the art extra tech facility here in Nashville, that are catered to e commerce brands. So when you think about these robotic systems, they have their limitations, right. So the way that I typically describe it is whatever will fit inside of the tote that goes on the robot is a good fit for us. So that could be anything from you know, fashion, apparel, shoes, you know, fast moving consumer goods, we do have some food grade capabilities. So shelf stable, food products are also on the menu, if you will, and along with that are, you know, just you know, small electronics, things of that nature, a lot of you know, toy companies, things that are really being very heavily bought out in the market, in this new ecommerce environment that we're in.

Blythe Brumleve: 12:25

That's interesting, I didn't even think about it from the lens of whatever can fit into the robotics, you know, sort of, I guess, yeah, box is exactly probably the the phrase I'm looking for, I didn't even think about it from that lens. Because there were actually at the same manifest conference, there were a lot of robotics companies there that were showing, like sort of the advanced, you know, pick and pack and sorting and almost treating robots as like, a helper like a one that won't, you know, sort of yell at you. One that shows up, you know, every day and doesn't leave you hanging, is that a you know, kind of a an accurate estimate of the robotics relationship? Yeah, absolutely.

Reed Loeffel: 13:05

And so we have, we have a combination. So like you mentioned, we do have what we call picket sisters. So when you think about a traditional, you know, warehouse operation, where you have employees that are sneaking up and down the aisles to go to the each location where they need to pick the product, we can eliminate the time that it takes a picker to do that, by utilizing the robots to be the ones that are actually doing that maneuver, and then segmenting out aisles versus orders for our employees. And so, you know, this is a huge initiative for God says a whole we love our robotic partners that we have out there. The two that I mentioned are just the ones that we utilize in the logistics, but there are many, many others that that we utilize outside of the logistics. And, you know, going back again, to the pandemic, when, you know, if somebody was unfortunately sick or needed to quarantine for multiple days, if not weeks, using these robotic systems allowed us to keep up with demand by limiting the headcount that we needed inside of the four walls of the facility. So it was very beneficial. You know, both on the productivity side, as well as making sure that we were taking care of our employees and making sure that they had the ample amount of time to recover and make sure that they were healthy and not have the pressure to come back to work right away. So it was a great, great outcome for God says a hole in how we navigated the uncertainty of the pandemic.

Blythe Brumleve: 14:40

And I'm sure that you know, being a former warehouse worker yourself, like you probably look at a lot of these robots, and it's like paying I wish I would have had these when I was here.

Reed Loeffel: 14:48

Oh, well, I mean, I was in the best shape of my life when I was working in the warehouse. So I certainly enjoyed the activity but it would have been very nice to to work alongside some of these, these robotics systems and anytime that I can go to a facility, you know, to either help pick or do anything, even today, I love working with them. It's great.

Blythe Brumleve: 15:12

That's awesome. Yeah, it's I've never actually taken a tour of a warehouse before, it's on my checklist of things to do. But it is one of those things that I see the videos, and I'm just astounded by, you know, you go to conferences, and you see them kind of little inaction. But then you see the videos of the just the grand scope of the square footage that these robots are tackling. And and I'm a big fan of robotics, I'm a fan of, you know, sort of AI and no, that's a little bit of, you know, there's a lot of debate around the two of those things and how it's replacing human jobs. But I think it just helps, you know, between robotics and you know, sort of AI, it really helps the humans in general get more better work done, if that makes Yeah, absolutely.

Reed Loeffel: 15:55

And it's a great point that you bring up life. And, you know, one of the huge benefits to this and how it really helps our employees is that it's very easy to train people on to work alongside with these robotic systems. So you know, the, the path of resistance to get into an actual operation is much lower these days, because it takes a lot less time to train and get people started up. So from that standpoint, we've seen you know, a lot a lot of retention with our employees, because it's, it's just playing out enjoyable to work alongside these robotic systems. So it we've we've definitely seen both sides of it.

Blythe Brumleve: 16:35

So so from the brand perspective, how, if I'm a brand, and I are I'm an E commerce brand, and I'm doing pretty well. And I think I'm ready to offload, you know, a lot of the shipment process the logistics process, what does I guess sort of that sell look like to a business owner like me? How do I know I'm ready to start looking for, you know, a three PL provider?

Reed Loeffel: 17:00

Yeah, it's a great question. And I think that it really does vary by brand, right? So a lot of these brands are very focused on, you know, the experience, and you know, the unboxing, and the product itself, and the sales and the marketing and all the things that go into making a business successful. And so I'm sure that if you took a survey and asked 20 different business owners, at what point did you know you need you needed some help with your outsource or outsourcing your logistics, you'd probably get 20 different answers. But at the end of the day, I would probably say that, it gets to the point where you have no time, besides fulfilling orders. And once you reach that point, and again, I mean, you could have a staff of just yourself and your wife at home packing up in the garage, or you could, you know, go out and find your own space, and you have a staff of 10 however many employees that are doing that. So it really is a case by case situation where we have seen that once brands get to that point where they come in, they you know, have a meeting with me or someone on my team, they say, I have no time in the day to do anything but fulfill orders I am up until midnight 1am 2am 3am In the morning, doing nothing but processing orders. So I need to get this off my plate, I need to focus on my sales strategy, I need to focus on additional products that are going to be launched for, you know, our summer fall collections. So we certainly see a good blend of that. But it's typically at that tipping point where you know, it's going to be more advantageous to pay somebody to help you with the fulfillment, and focus more on what they started the business to do, which is, you know, sell their product that they love and that they have dedicated their whole lives to.

Blythe Brumleve: 18:53

And you brought up something about customer experience, you know, that the unboxing experience? Does does the logistics help with that as well the full, I guess, sort of shipment expectations, the you know, the the brand expectations of wanting to deliver a you know, a really good experience. Where does Where does God sort of help out with that entire process?

Reed Loeffel: 19:15

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, again, dealing with with these digitally focused clients. The product is everything right? And so when and especially when you think about the impact that social media has, in today's world, so you you go to Instagram, you go to tick tock, you go to any of these platforms where a lot of these brands are selling products, having somebody that's opening a beautiful box and then showcasing your product is so important, both to the brand experience as well as you know, getting the attention of new clients. And so the way that we support that is, you know, we work with brands that have what we call branded packaging. And we allow them to bring said branded packaging into our facility. And what we would do is essentially create a value added service out of that to say, for each of these orders, you know, you want to bring in your own box that has, you know, a special paper inside of it, and we wanted to have a bow on it, and maybe even a handwritten card. And so from our standpoint, it's certainly something that we are cognizant of and want to support our clients on. And then the the logistics network, we're actually multi tenant environment. So in all of our facilities, you know, your brand could be commingled with another brand, all within the same area of where we're doing fulfillment. So it does get a little challenging for us on the packout side, where, you know, if we have 5060 brands that are inside of our facility, that all have to have their own branded experience. And, you know, it's really a long drawn out process. And so to keep up with volume and keep up with the demand, sometimes we do have to pull that back and limit it. So it really does depend. But it is something that we are continuously, you know, looking at partners and other providers that can support us with bringing more of that value added service to our clients. So it's it's certainly something to navigate, that's for sure.

Blythe Brumleve: 21:23

Yeah, I would imagine that that's got to be a whole each brand, if they have their own unboxing experience, I almost imagine that they need their own little like, sort of sorting area, within the warehouse that one person is almost dedicated to is is that kind of, I guess, the lay of the land or how you're tackling it, I don't know how else you would tackle it.

Unknown: 21:42

Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, it depends on really the size of the brand. And you asked me a question earlier, about, you know, what size brands we go after, whether it's revenue, what have you, but really what we like to see is, what's your volume? So how many orders per day do you have? How many orders per month Do you have? And that really can dictate how we have the facility set up. And that's one of the great things about the logistics is, you know, we are a part of the GEODIS network. And so we have the excellence of Operation behind us for over 80 years here in the United States, as well as all the backing that that we do all day long in our core business unit. So you know, from an operation standpoint, that's certainly something that we have an edge on. But you're right. I mean, when you have that many brands, and they all are requiring their own special needs. That's really something that we try to navigate and it's honestly something that we are continuously talking about, and how can we continue to expand our pack out areas where exactly as you alluded to where, you know, maybe we have one dead designated pack outstation for this single brand, because they have a lot more intense pack out or, you know, branded packaging operation.

Blythe Brumleve: 23:02

And it's one of those things too, that I imagine that that is. So I imagine that you have you know, sort of the baseline service offerings of E logistics, and then something like, you know, branded packaging is something that you can add on as needed. It's not necessarily something that all of these brands would want help on? Is that a safe assumption? Yeah,

Unknown: 23:19

absolutely. And so we actually have our own supplies on hand. So even for, you know, if you're a startup brand, and you're still in discovery mode of do I really want to go and invest in brand new packaging is it really that important for the client experience, we have those offerings as well, which is, you know, typically what we like to see because, you know, a huge part of this industry as well in today's world is, you know, eco friendly sustainability, the whole nine yards. And so all of the products that we use, are eco friendly, we are very conscientious about our impact on the environment, it's a huge initiative all the way from, you know, our CEO and Paris down to every single operation that we have around the world. So from that standpoint, we have these offerings for our clients. So if you're not going through down that path of branded packaging, we have you covered there

Blythe Brumleve: 24:16

and so as you mentioned sort of the whole GEODIS ecosystem so if I'm you know, going back to you know, my I guess jewelry business that is taking off if I want to then you know higher e Logistics is not just packaging that you guys are handling and fulfillment, but you guys are also offering you know that that first mile delivery and that last mile delivery, so how does that I guess all play into me the brand Am I using your software to book trucks? Are you guys just handling all of it? And I don't even have to think about it.

Reed Loeffel: 24:50

Yeah, so it's a great question. So we really do see ourselves as an end to end provider. So all everything that I was talking about on the freight for Adding side all the way to getting the product to your customer. So from that standpoint, we are the logistics experts. And this kind of goes back to the conversation we were having earlier about when does a brand really know that they need to reach out to a three PL? Well, I mean, it ultimately comes down to how much time do you want to dedicate to your logistics operation versus what you're great at and in growing your brand and making sure that your clients are happy, right. And so from that standpoint, we want to make sure that the services that we provide, take all of that off of your plate. So you know, all the way from, and a lot of a lot of this will still come back to the brand as far as communicating with the manufacturer, wherever that may be, and making sure that you know, you're planning your inventory, your your source of materials, everything is still you know, going to fall onto the brand. From that perspective, you know, being a third party logistics company, what we really strive to do is take that fulfillment piece off of your plate. So that's everything from you know, when we receive an inbound order into our facility of, you know, bringing those pallets off of the truck or the boxes, if they're floor loaded, getting them into our storage, you know, whether it's decanting every single box into a bin location, or putting full pallets up into racking, and then actually integrating with your system to make sure that we're keeping up with both the orders that are coming through as well as keeping your inventory up to date. So that you are aware of when you need to be scheduling other, you know, inbound orders or anything like that. So, you know, all the way to the actual pack out in fulfillment, right, so we handle the pick pack, we will, you know, pack it out. And we will actually utilize our network of transportation carriers to book those orders for you through a range shopping logic. So, you know, we offer different service levels to our clients. So let's say that for your jewelry business, you you know, people who are going to be coming onto your website are expecting, you know, excellent service, because they're very expensive and beautiful pieces. So you know. And so, you know, maybe you're getting it for your wife's birthday, or your daughter or your aunt, your mom, and you need it for you know, you need it there in two days or the next day, or you, you know, aren't really too concerned about it, because, unlike me, you're really planning in advance and, you know, their birthday isn't for a month. So we like to provide those options where you know, you as the consumer can pass along that option to your client, to make sure that you know, you are giving them the service level that is the most desired for them. And so to really round out the answer to this, we want to take as much off of the brands plate excuse me, as we can to make sure that they you know, and working with a three PL is expensive, right? So we want to make sure that the service that we're providing is something that is going to help them retain that time that they were missing having to manage it on their own.

Blythe Brumleve: 28:10

And so you had mentioned you know, things like giving you an alert or when you're supposed to order more product and things like that. So, you know, going back to my jewelry business example, if I'm you know, I've offloaded all of my shipping and fulfillment to you guys. What does I guess my relationship and experience look like working with E logistics? Is it you know, I just log into a dashboard, I see how things are going. And then I order more product on my end. And I never really have to talk to you guys. Or how does how does that relationship work after I've offloaded all or how does I guess my workday look working with you guys after I've offloaded all of the shipping and fulfillment needs? Yeah,

Reed Loeffel: 28:52

absolutely. Great, great question. So we actually have what we call the my IA logistics portal, that is a brand new proprietary software that we have developed, you know, through working with brands. And so basically what this does is it gives you exactly what you described an online dashboard where you can go and login every single day, you know, from your cell phone, from a tablet, from your from your desktop, wherever you can get internet service, you can gain access to your information. And so as a part of that, you know will give you visibility to you know, a customizable dashboard that you can log into every single day to see you know how your inventory looks or how your orders look or you know how many new clients that I have this week, things of that nature, but it also goes very in depth into your orders your inventory, returns that you may have inbound POS as well as billing. So all of those things are readily available at your fingertips wherever you can get a Wi Fi connection. So that's really the day to day and how we allow clients to really work on their own. But aside from that, we also have customer service representatives in each of our facilities that are actually boots on the ground that can answer, you know, quick questions, if you have an inventory dispute, or you have an order that, you know, we need to go check on. So we have people who are actually on the floor, able to give you a very quick response. And then, you know, not not robots. Well, we do utilize some of those systems where, you know, if it's, and, you know, the beautiful thing of the portal is, this has taken away a lot of the human interaction that we really, you know, desire, like, I'm the type of person where whenever I get on the phone, and a robot starts talking to me on pound and zero, like,

Blythe Brumleve: 30:47

immediately, yes, good customer

Reed Loeffel: 30:50

service, please. So we do also have that available. So you know, we utilize, you know, different functions like Zendesk, where you can go in at any time and, you know, type in a question, if it's not super urgent, and then somebody will get back to us as quick as they can. But then again, going back to an earlier comment that you made by is, we also have a service offering for dedicated account management. So you know, if you're, if you're an established brand, that, you know, hey, I have my own systems in place, I have people on staff that manage this day in and day out, all I need is the data cut, the customer portals are going to be perfect for you. But if you have an emerging brand, that's, that's just coming out, and they need a lot of hand holding, and they want to be very interactive with us as they go through the process. It is kind of a modular approach to say this isn't our standard offering. But if you need this, we can offer it for you, and so will actually go out, and staff and account manager for you that will be solely dedicated to your account to be your main representative, throughout your entire time with us.

Blythe Brumleve: 32:02

Do you wish there was a central place to pull in all of your social media posts, recruit employees, and give potential customers a glimpse into how you operate your business? Well, all of this should already be on your website. But too often, we hand that responsibility of building our online home off to a cousin, a neighbor's kid down the street, or a stranger across the world. Digital dispatch believes in building a better website at a fraction of the costs that those big time marketing agencies would charge. Because we've spent years on those digital front lines, our experienced team focuses on the modern web technologies to bring in all of the places you're already active online, show off those customer success stories, and measure the ROI of it all in one place. With manage website plans, starting at $90 a month, head on over to digital to see how we can build your digital ecosystem on a strong foundation. We've got explainer videos right on the website and the ability to book a demo immediately find it all over at Digital I think you had mentioned something about reverse logistics. And I imagine that that's got to be you know, such an incredible challenge for a lot of brands. How are you? How are you guys, you know, maybe helping to, you know, with that process, or maybe helping to alleviate that from ever happening in the first place? Give us a little I guess an idea of the reverse logistics, you know, solutions that you guys may or may not have?

Reed Loeffel: 33:35

Yeah, absolutely. And it's certainly inevitable, especially in the E commerce world, that returns are going to happen. You know, I'm I am not a huge online consumer myself, but my wife certainly is. And so I know that, you know, with wedding seasons coming through, you may be looking at dresses, and then you know, sometimes the dress may not fit or the shoe may not fit or whatever it may be. And so you're buying options, knowing that, hey, it's going to be pretty easy for me to return this back. And so, you know, brands have been facing this as an issue, you know, with this e commerce boom for a very long time. And so that's why companies that have emerged, you know, one in particular that we partnered with that really helped with that experience is happy returns. So that Yeah, and so they're one of our partnered return solutions that we have integrated with, to assist our clients with how they can manage their returns to get it back into our facility in a timely manner, but also in a manner that allows us as the three PL to see, what are we receiving and what was the rejection reason or the return reason rather, so that when we receive that product, we know this was returned because it's the wrong size. So we know that we just need to get it, you know, either cleaned up if that's something that we need to do or just right back into inventory if it never came out of the box. So So having partners like that really help us as the three PL and managing that. But from a brand perspective, I mean, having a three PL that has, you know, the experience and partners like that is certainly certainly the best path forward, knowing that you have an expert in returns, because especially in the apparel business, it is inevitably going to be a very large portion of your operation. So, you know, from that standpoint, I don't foresee returns going away anytime soon, potentially even growing, as, as the E commerce, you know, market continues to expand. And as you know, more and more brands come into this environment, it's certainly going to be a very large piece of the operation. And it's something that, you know, a lot of brands really don't give a lot of thought to, because, you know, going back to the thought process of a business owner, you know, they love their product, they have faith in it, they it's, it's their baby, in essence. And so, you know, why would anybody want to return it. So it's certainly something that we have to navigate, but having really good partners, and a really good process in place inside of the four walls of your three PL is is key to having a successful return program.

Blythe Brumleve: 36:18

I think so too, because if something is, I think it's almost like a fine line, I guess, as a business owner, that you have to walk where you don't want people returning things. But if they are returning them, if you make that process, super simple and super easy, then they're going to come back and shop with you again, at least that's my own sort of anecdotal experience anyways, that I will go back to a brand if they make the return process simple. Oh, absolutely.

Reed Loeffel: 36:42

And, you know, that's one of the great things about happy returns as well is, you know, they actually have a dashboard, depending on what type of products you have. That is that is in customer facing. So instead of having to go you know, to the customer service team, or, you know, reach out to somebody that's actually on staff, they have a very easy process that says, you know, here are the options for why you want to return this product, here's the label, put it into the box, slap it back on, and then they have drop off locations, you know, all around the country where you can actually go drop it off, and then it's a very easy process. So you know, aside from that, there are tons and tons of companies that I'm sure we saw many of them that manifest and you know, the other trade shows that we go to, that are really capitalizing on this market and making returns easier, just knowing that it is going to be an inevitable part of the business moving forward. So making it easier for the end consumer exactly, like you said, is really going to be important for the brands and how they retain their clients.

Blythe Brumleve: 37:48

And so when, you know, speaking of you know, I guess things that that maybe business owners aren't thinking about just yet, because I think return Logistics is something that you probably don't even deal with until it becomes you know, too much of a problem for you to deal with it. But in the coming months, I mean, we're recording this in early April, we have some summer holidays, we of course have the you know, the big shopping season, how early is it? Or how early is too early to plan for Christmas?

Unknown: 38:15

Oh, goodness. Well, I mean, and in the logistics industry, it's its peak. So you know, depending on what the brand is, you know, you may have your certain peak periods. So like, if you're a swimsuit company, you're in peak right now. Oh tro so. But really, this is there. Exactly, exactly. And so as early as possible, is what I would say. And really the thing is, and you know, working in such a large, large organization, we have very, very much experience dealing with peaks in very different industries and verticals. So I mean, some of the largest brands that you can think of in the world, you know, we've worked with during peak season. And so, you know, there's, there's forecasting, there is labor planning, there's, you know, the peaks and valleys, and is why it's called Peak is because when you think about your sales during the year, if it's kind of a straight line for most of the year, and then up Black Friday, Christmas is coming up, and then it's like boom, through the roof that causes a lot of stress and pressure on on the operation. So having an experienced partner will certainly help with that. So you know, a client or a company like GEODIS that has, you know, decades and decades of experience dealing with this type of operation can certainly assist you through the planning for peak. So you know, whether it is actually working with us in forecasting and seeing what your sales projections are over a three year period, just to say hey, you know, you've we've seen a 5% increase year over year. You know, what are your sales looking like? Are you still expecting the normal 5%? Or are you launching a new product that may cause it to go 10 or 12, or 15x? So I would say, I mean, a lot of these companies, you know, have a lot of dedicated people to making sure that they understand exactly what their sales volumes going to look like. I mean, the revenue that you generate from sales is the lifeblood of any company. And so from that perspective, I think that starting very early on in the year is very smart and advantageous, especially if you're a heavy winter holiday, you know, peak, if you will.

Blythe Brumleve: 40:39

And I imagined to, it's helpful for a lot of these brands that may not be there, they might be so used to just in the trenches, day to day stuff, that they might not be thinking this far in advance that they, you know, especially given the current, you know, supply chain crunches across the globe, that they might need to order some of those products for the holiday demand, you know, several months in advance just to be safe. How do you, I guess, maybe protect against over inventory? Or is that kind of a good thing? Maybe for a lot of businesses to have that inventory? At least on hand? Yeah.

Unknown: 41:11

So Blythe, and that's a great point that you bring up, and it's certainly something that has both been beneficial and has been, you know, a company killer over the past couple of years. And so, you know, taking a step back into my freight forwarding experience, at the height of the pandemic, when you know, ports were shut down, and factories were shut down overseas, there was a lot of fear in the US of my inventory levels, how am I going to get the materials over here, I mean, lead times went from 30 days to 70 days on when you could expect to receive an inbound shipment. And even that was still a guessing game, because, you know, you have these ocean, or you have these ocean carriers that are bringing over hundreds and 1000s of containers. And, you know, I don't know if you remember or not, or saw it in the news of, you know, 1520 30 of these massive vessels, just

Blythe Brumleve: 42:10

70 I think it was it got up to 70 at 170, exactly, just

Unknown: 42:14

sitting out in the water waiting, waiting to get a berth at the dock. So it caused a lot of uncertainty. And in my opinion, I think that it caused a lot of panic in the market, to say, hey, we don't know if you know, COVID is going to continue on for five years, or 10 years, or if another variant comes out or whatever it may be. And so I think that that drove a lot of people to over buy on inventory. And so what we're seeing now in the market is that there's kind of that COVID Hangover, of, you know, hey, we bought three years worth of inventory, because we didn't know if you know, the containers were going to or if equipment was going to go away again, or capacity or anything like that. And so you have some brands that are sitting on a ton of excess inventory. And it's got to go somewhere, right. And so one of the big things that we've seen is that some brands have so much inventory on hand, that it, it almost causes a very large business disruption from a storage cost perspective. So I mean, if you think about, you know, warehouses that have, you know, 10s, you know, 10s of 1000s, if not hundreds of 1000s of square feet. Yeah, those buildings are pretty large. But if you're talking about 3x, the normal inventory that you typically have on hand, and then the sales aren't justifying it, or what we call in the industry, the turns, meaning the inventory that's coming in is going back out, it can cause a lot of pressure, not only on your bottom line, but also for operators like myself, because, you know, the last thing that you want is to just have a warehouse full of inventory that isn't moving. And it's, you know, it's not good for the brand. It's not good for the three PL. So yeah, there was there was a lot of concern around that during COVID. And I do think that we are coming out of that a little bit, you know, and obviously, with the state of the economy and how things are going, you know, buyers may be a little bit more reluctant to, you know, spend as much money as they would. So you know, whether that's going to, you know, continue to go down that path, or, you know, if we see a little bit of a rebound where the buyers are coming back, it's a very tricky situation to navigate right now between, you know, the economy and the buyer and inventory levels and management.

Blythe Brumleve: 44:41

Are there any, you know, AI? Are there any other I guess, maybe challenges or opportunities within those challenges that exists for econ brands right now?

Unknown: 44:52

Yeah. So I think that, you know, from an opportunity standpoint, you know, there are a lot of people who are going Lean to some of the big box stores, right? So you're talking about your target your Walmart's, CVS is Walgreens of the world to say, you know, where I may not have had opportunity to go, you know, put inventory inside of those different channels, because I was so thin on my inventory, now, I may have the opportunity to go do that, because I have an excess of inventory and, you know, not necessarily need to offload it, but it's providing me a better opportunity to have a omni channel solution, you know, and that's a big part of the business as well, as, you know, e commerce and direct to consumer is a massive growth opportunity for a lot of brands out here. But you know, the Walmart's and targets of the world are not going away, and it's still all about getting your product in, in front of as many people as possible. And so, you know, in any logistics, we offer a lot of benefit for direct to consumer. But we also offer some business to business, and you know, Amazon work and things of that nature. So being able to be flexible, and that nature is has been critical for us and how we can, you know, support these brands and the opportunities that arises for them.

Blythe Brumleve: 46:17

And I'm sure it helps a ton for a lot of these brands that may not know the nuances of shipping. I mean, there's only if you work in the industry, you know, sort of most of the nuances, I would assume, but outside of the industry, you probably don't have a clue. And I think that's where, you know, a company like GE Otis with the global approach to the all the different variations and nuances within the shipping industry, you probably have, you know, somebody that can speak to you know, that that expertise within the industry that that they're looking for, I would imagine. Absolutely. And so, as we kind of round out this discussion, you know, I had mentioned earlier about how I am a fan of AI I'm a fan of of robots. So I have been having these chat GPT type discussions for us. Are you have you played around with GPT?

Unknown: 47:07

At all? I have not yet. Admittedly, I've heard all kinds of great things about it, and all the new versions that are rolling out. So certainly excited to immerse myself in that world.

Blythe Brumleve: 47:20

I wish well, let's start. Let's start.

Unknown: 47:22

I wish I would have had it, you know, about 10 years ago, when I was you know, doing schoolwork, but

Blythe Brumleve: 47:30

Well, I had. So you are the third person the third interview that I have had, so I had a Ambreen key. She's the president and CEO of the TIA transportation intermediaries Association, and cash Aaron van Zealander from Schneider. So I had chat GBT write a bio sort of fast facts on them to see how accurate it was. For Schneider it was probably 95% right for Tia, it was probably 95% Wrong. So you since you are the third person I thought I would you know kind of play this game, you know, check GPT factor fo with you as well, if you're open to it, I you know, kind of put me on the spot. Yeah,

Unknown: 48:10

absolutely. I would love to be the tiebreaker.

Blythe Brumleve: 48:14

Okay, so we have five facts that chat GPT gave us about you and and God and you're going to tell us which one is right and which one was wrong. So the first one, read LaFell did I say your last name? Right? Loeffel, Loeffel? Yes. Loeffel, Loeffel read Loeffel. And I still said that wrong legal. Got it.

Unknown: 48:33

I get it all the time. And I typically say it's like a ruffled potato chip, but instead of the Arduino.

Blythe Brumleve: 48:41

Oh, okay, perfect. All right. Well, it says that you are the first one is you're the manager of merchant acquisition strategy at GEODIS e logistics where he oversees the development and implementation of strategies to help ecommerce businesses optimize their logistics operations and improve the overall customer experience is that when a thumbs up or a thumbs down,

Reed Loeffel: 48:59

big thumbs, that's it two thumbs up. That that wouldn't I think

Blythe Brumleve: 49:03

they definitely hit the nail on the head with that one. And then it says you have extreme extensive, not extreme, extensive experience in the logistics industry with the background in sales, marketing and operations management prior to joining geode as a logistics he worked for companies such as ups and DHL.

Reed Loeffel: 49:21

That's, that's a big no.

Blythe Brumleve: 49:26

All right, well, so 111 All right. Number three, one of your key areas of expertise is in E commerce logistics, and he has written and spoken extensively on the topic. He has shared insights on trends, challenges and best practices for E commerce logistics at industry events and conferences, which sounds sounds right. Absolutely. I mean, you're here on this podcast sharing your expertise, so you're just under your leadership geodis e logistics has implemented a range of innovative solutions and technologies to streamline e commerce logistics and improve the overall Customer Experience. These include parcel lockers, urban micro fulfillment centers, and same day or next day delivery services.

Reed Loeffel: 50:07

partially right. I don't know about the lockers. And I certainly cannot take all of the credit here. I have a excellent team that has driven a majority of this. I'm just one one pillar.

Blythe Brumleve: 50:20

That's it. That's a team leader answer right there. I'm gonna give it a thumbs up kinda. And then at the last one, it says you're committed to sustainability and reducing the environmental impact of logistics operations. GEODIS e logistics has implemented a range of initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint, including using renewable resources, optimizing transport routes to minimize emissions and recycling packaging materials. Absolutely. So good. All right. Oh, I guess chat GPT. That is a they got the fact they got about three and a half, maybe maybe four. Right. So you were the tiebreaker on this?

Unknown: 50:58

I just hope it doesn't, you know, come from my job or anything that that's been some of the rumors I've been hearing?

Blythe Brumleve: 51:04

Oh, geez, I hope not, I see it as almost a tool in your arsenal belt, that that's how I see it, there will be some jobs, I think that are going to be heavily impacted. A lot of marketing agencies, I think are going to be experiencing this over the next year. But I think if you use it to your advantage, then you'll be well ahead of the curve. And you might actually earn some more business because you're able to produce more work at a quicker rate, especially if it's, you know, improving a lot of the data sets that it has just probably needs to work a little bit more on the TIA bio. Set of yours. Yours. Yours was pretty good. Schneiders was was pretty, it was like 95% Correct. I'm gonna give yours like a 90%.

Unknown: 51:44

That's fair. That's fair. Well, hey, and Blythe, if you're offering free chat, GPT training, let me know I'm ready to sign up.

Blythe Brumleve: 51:52

Yeah, I gotcha. Because I'm working on something right now. I've been asking, you know, a lot of people in freight, you know, how are you using AI? Because I'm just, you know, fascinated by it is God is using? You know, I would imagine that it but the data set that God has has, or at least probably looking at implementing some of these solutions?

Unknown: 52:07

Yeah, I believe so. You know, I'm by no means the technical rep here. But I've certainly had many conversations with some of my colleagues around how we can start to utilize this. So it is becoming just like, you know, ecommerce, it is continuing to grow in the market. And I think it's here to stay. So,

Blythe Brumleve: 52:26

yeah, it's definitely, it's impacted a lot of my own workflows, just speaking anecdotally. But it has helped a ton. But you do have to fact check it. I have learned the hard way that you know, sort of cringy interview, not cringy interview, but it was a cringy part of the interview. But um, you know, seeing the accolades of chat GPT that got, you know, a precedent and CEOs bio entirely wrong. So, that was a, that was a good use case of fact, checking. Alright, read, where can folks you know, follow, follow more of your work, follow, you know, God, if I'm an ecommerce jewelry brand, or any other kind of E commerce brand, where can I reach out to to GEODIS, to learn more about the services that can help my business grow? Yeah,

Reed Loeffel: 53:09

so I'm actually on LinkedIn. So it's Reed Loeffel and then you can go to our website, which I also wanted to mention here, but we just redid and relaunched our website. So it's state, it's fully up to speed, it had been a couple of years since we did it. So there's some really cool video around our extra tech system that we have here in Nashville. And as well as a plethora of things that you can find on there, including our pricing our terms and conditions, there are a couple of blog posts that are on there. So yeah, it's it's super awesome. A lot of hard work went into it a very appreciative of the team. And that link is E logistics, that's E L O, G, i s t i c s, dot

Blythe Brumleve: 54:01

I'm gonna make sure I link that in the show notes. Because we love a website that puts pricing front and center. So people are not wasting their time with having pointless phone calls if it doesn't actually fit into their budget. So I'm a big proponent of that. And I'm making a note of this right now. So I can include that in the show notes. So really appreciate your time, appreciate your expertise. I will also put a link to the show notes in with the puppy video as well, because we all know that that is the that that is the great part of this conversation as well as not just helping ecommerce companies, but helping people you know, take a little break by looking at

Reed Loeffel: 54:35

absolutely well Blythe it was. It was a pleasure. Thank you again for having me. And yeah, super, super excited about this. And I really appreciate the opportunity to come talk with you today.

Blythe Brumleve: 54:46

And likewise, thank you so much for sharing your expertise. It was fun while to

Reed Loeffel: 54:49

do it. Yeah, anytime.

Blythe Brumleve: 54:55

I hope you enjoyed this episode of everything is logistics and The podcast for the thinkers and freight telling the stories behind how your favorite stuff and people get from point A to B. If you liked this episode, do me a favor and sign up for our newsletter. I know what you're probably thinking, oh God, another newsletter, but it's the easiest way to stay updated when new episodes are released. Plus, we drop a lot of gems in that email to help the one person marketing team and folks like yourself who are probably wearing a lot of hats at work in order to help you navigate this digital world a little bit easier. You could find that email signup link along with our socials in past episodes. Over at everything is And until next time, I'm blind and go Jags

About the Author

Blythe Brumleve
Blythe Brumleve
Creative entrepreneur in freight. Founder of Digital Dispatch and host of Everything is Logistics. Co-Founder at Jax Podcasters Unite. Board member of Transportation Marketing and Sales Association. Freightwaves on-air personality. Annoying Jaguars fan. test

To read more about Blythe, check out her full bio here.