Founded in 1973 in California, the Deckers Outdoor Corporation is a multi-brand organisation and although not everyone will have heard the Deckers name, most people will know some of its brands, like Hoka One One, Teva, and Ugg.
The company started out selling sandals at craft fairs – what could be more 1970s Californian – and has now become a $1.7bn business, with its UK offices on Shaftesbury Avenue in London. It also has warehouse facilities near Bristol, and a combined office and warehouse in Rotterdam, as well as an operation in Hamburg.
Until as recently as six years ago, Deckers was a distributor-focused organisation and the creation of its own European operation is still relatively recent.
Guy Meisl is the Head of European Distribution for Deckers, and as such is responsible for all warehousing and logistics for the business.
He’s also speaking at eDelivery Expo (EDX 2015) next month, so we caught up with him briefly.
eDel: Tell us a little about your set up.
GM: Clearly, we are an expanding business. We have our own retail outlets in some countries, including outlet stores, and of course we have the joys of ecommerce. I am responsible for all distribution functions across Europe, including ecommerce, retail and wholesale. We have a lot of key wholesale clients in the UK and across Europe. It remains a really important part of what we do.
In terms of fulfilling orders, we have a number of stockpools.
For example, there’s a wholesale stockpool, and a direct-to-consumer stockpool, and within those we have country-specific stockpools.
eDel: What would typical day in the office look like?
GM: Our whole team is essentially, me, one European manager, and one UK manager – that’s the whole of our distribution team. Our day can entail everything from a strategy meting through to dealing with problems with orders.
I was brought in to look at the strategy side of things. Where we are today, where do we want to go, how do we get there.
For us, the overall value proposition, which includes customer service and product margins, is more important than the simple cost of logistics, and as such service is our key driver.
But what that means is that we are very keen on working in partnership with our 3PLs. Things like planning and reviews are a very inclusive process – I like to get people from different divisions within Deckers working with our 3PLs.
eDel: what’s the future look like for the sector in your opinion?
GM: Next day delivery was, and still is, great. But at busy times shoppers can end up with lots of missed delivery cards on the doormat, then they have to go to and collect things from an industrial estate somewhere, join a queue and be dealt with by people who, for better or worse, aren’t necessarily trained in the art of customer service. It isn’t always a great experience.
And so it’s no surprise there’s been a big growth in things like click-and-collect services.
We’ve started doing it too. We only have 17 stores so there are limits to what we can do but in spite of that I’ve been impressed by how well it’s going. We’re also looking at other ways to help our customers. That could be named day delivery or a wider click-and-collect solution so we can drop parcels of at convenient locations.
Because I have European responsibilities, I’m also very aware that when you look at the European picture you see each country has it’s own take on it. In some parts of rural France, five days is fine but you’d never get away with that in Paris. And in Germany things are becoming like the UK. It’s important as we roll out across Europe that we don’t simply say “that’s what we do in the UK, so we’ll do it here” – you have to be aware of the different expectations in each country.
eDel: what will we hear from you at EDX, and do you enjoy speaking?
GM: I do enjoy it, yes. But one of the challenges with it is knowing your audience and being able to talk to them about things they’ll find interesting.
I’m going to be talking about the issue of automation vs using people. For example, I’m an advocate of throwing people at the problem of dealing with peak periods, rather than investing heavily in a big piece of kit that you risk sitting idle for most of the year.
eDel: what are you looking forward to at EDX?
GM: I’ve ben in logistics for 15 years or so – I pretty much fell into it. What fascinates me about logistics is how it involves the whole of a business; I touch every single part of our business and can therefore make a fundamental difference to what we’re doing. Now, the only way I can make that difference is if I know what the smart people are doing.
A show like EDX gives the opportunity to meet some of the smart people, and to share opinions and thoughts with like-minded people. It’s a opportunity to engage with my peers. To share insights, ideas and even horror stories.
Guy’s talk (Flexing your Fufillment and Delivery Systems to Prepare for Seasonal Peaks and Troughs) will take place at 11:10 on 26 March in the Retail Logistics stream in the EDX Theatre. You can register for EDX here.