American Eagle Outfitters (NYSE: AEO) wants to shepherd retailers into the shared logistics era. The company’s logistics subsidiary Quiet Platforms on Wednesday announced the addition of an Atlanta fulfillment hub to its “plug-and-play” platform, which pools the delivery and fulfillment assets of retailers into one shared network.
For years, the conventional wisdom among retailers was to use as few delivery partners as possible. But as supply chains became more and more volatile, brands realized that relying on one or two partners would no longer cut it.
Now it’s all about options. Many retailers have shifted to a multi-carrier logistics strategy, enlisting a patchwork of local and regional carriers. That gives them the flexibility to adjust capacity even when there’s an unexpected swing in demand, like the one that recently left top retail brands like Target (NYSE: TGT) and Walmart (NYSE: WMT) with bloated inventories.
Quiet, which American Eagle acquired for $360 million in December, took that idea and modified it. The platform doesn’t connect retailers with multiple dedicated carriers. Rather, the American Eagle subsidiary turns other retailers into carriers and 3PLs to be shared by the entire network.
For example, an order that comes through American Eagle’s website might be fulfilled by a warehouse that also fulfills orders for Mack Weldon, another Quiet client. And the order might then be delivered using vans that move products for yet another client like Outdoor Voices.
With the addition of an Atlanta hub, Quiet takes another step toward rolling out its open logistics network nationwide. The company also has facilities in cities like Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas and St. Louis, but Atlanta adds to its Southeastern footprint.
“The activation of the Atlanta facility represents a major step forward in our strategy of building a connected network and democratizing access to high-performing supply chain solutions,” said Bill Besselman, chief commercial officer of Quiet. “This launch further expands our national fulfillment network, which provides access to integrated inventory solutions, a multitiered carrier network that enables next-day delivery and real-time analytics.”
Quiet also touted the speed with which it was able to build its Atlanta center. The facility, which is equipped with state-of-the-art sortation and containerization tech, was completed in under 60 days, the company said.
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“Technology has the power to simplify. Ours reduces lead times, accelerating our customers’ ability to scale to efficient, distributed, multi-nodal networks,” added Charles Griffith, CTO of Quiet. “Quiet Platforms enables the rapid activation of new fulfillment facilities and offers brands immediate access to sophisticated supply chain solutions.”
In May, Quiet received a boost to its network when it partnered with national carrier Pitney Bowes. That brought even more shared capacity to its 60-plus retail clients, which include Steve Madden, Kohl’s and Saks Fifth Avenue.
Shekar Natarajan, American Eagle’s executive vice president and chief supply chain officer, in May touted his vision of an open sharing logistics network as the wave of the future.
“So many retailers have tried to build their own vertically integrated supply chains, but building more assets and buying more resources is not the answer to achieving hyper-scale efficiencies,” he said. “Sharing is.”