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Digitally disrupting the fashion supply chain

ADORE ME

IN ASSOCIATION WITH DIGITAL REPORT 2020


ADORE ME

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Digitally disrupting the fashion supply chain


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www.a do re m e. com


ADORE ME

Romain Liot, Chief Operating Officer, Adore Me, discusses his firm’s digital transformation journey in the fashion industry

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dore Me is a disruptive ecommerce startup that is driven to revolutionise and transform the lingerie industry through

digital technology. Founded in 2012, Adore Me has 04

grown into a team of over 300 employees across the United States and Europe and is considered one of the fastest-growing companies in New York and one of the fastest-growing retailers in the United States. Romain Liot is the Chief Operating Officer and co-founder of Adore Me and has been with the organisation since 2013, having previously worked at McKinsey. “Adore Me is engineered for disruptions and we began with the intent to disrupt the lingerie market,” explains Liot. “We initially targeted a branding disruption to start with and originally began online; our tech team now consists of 40% of the total full-time employees.” Liot affirms that, as Adore Me was born digital, the company isn’t undergoing a classic digital transformation from little to no technology to a fully digitalised


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ADORE ME

“Adore Me is engineered for disruptions and we began with the intent to disrupt the lingerie market” —Romain Liot, Chief Operating Officer and Co-founder, Adore Me

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environment, but is instead leveraging

order management process, which

and implementing technology that cre-

brings state-of-the-art technology

ates value. “We’re digital-native, so it’s

to life. As a result, Adore Me became

a bit different,” he says. “We launched

one of the first companies to adopt

our warehouse three years ago and

Autostore and SureSort technol-

we’ve combined two technologies

ogy. Following the launch of the

together: Autostore and Suresort. This

warehouse, Adore Me can now fulfill

gives us an edge because we can list

over 20,000 orders every day, which

the products that are ready to ship

represents four times the volume of a

quickly on the website.”

conventional distribution centre. The

Considered an integral part of Adore

cutting-edge warehouse utilises robot-

Me’s second phase into expanding

ics technology and has been launched

internationally, the 126,286 sq.ft ware-

in a bid to allow Adore Me to stream-

house is home to a highly-automated

line operations and accommodate the www.a do re m e. com


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One of the world’s leading mail and goods shipping providers. Asendia USA is the US arm of Asendia, one of the world’s leading parcel and mail shipping providers. Founded in 2012 as part of a joint venture with La Poste and Swiss Post, Asendia specializes in international shipping of packages, business mail, direct marketing materials, and publications. Asendia offers high quality B2C global delivery solutions for its customers. The organization is present in 17 countries across Europe, Asia, Oceania, and the US and provides a diverse range of ecommerce and mail solutions to empower businesses to grow across borders. Gary Shunk is Asendia USA’s Senior VP of Marketing, Pricing and Partnerships, with additional responsibilities in Sales and Key Accounts/Customer Care Management. “My experience in the logistics sector goes back 39 years,” he says. “I started out in sales and then went into management with FedEx back in the 1980’s. It was at FedEx that I benefited from solid sales management and leadership training. I left FedEx in 1989 to become an entrepreneur and have since contributed to the growth and development of the organization we are today.” With such extensive experience, Shunk has observed the transformation of e-commerce first-hand. “Global eCommerce has become a fantastic opportunity for growth, but can be challenging in the world we live in today,” he says. “The customs, security changes, and guidelines for shipping internationally require the ability to adapt to constant changes. Flexibility with choices while ensuring security and customs compliance is how we help companies achieve their goals. Parcel shipping is 60% of our business. Asendia’s strategy had to change in order for us to succeed, and that is what we did. Transporting sold products versus mail or printed matter is much different in many ways – and, as everyone now knows, speed and visibility are critical to the customer experience. Transportation companies have had to improve and expand their scope and coverage. Asendia is doing just that through expansion of facilities, acquisitions, improved automation, increased tracking capabilities, and above all employee safety. The e-commerce industry demands reliability and ease of use, and our strategy is to ensure we continue to provide both as one of the top players in the industry.” Having established a key, strategic relationship with Adore Me, Shunk believes that collaboration has been influential. “Adore Me began with a strict interest in the US market, but quickly saw the opportunity to grow their subscription model business into other English-speaking countries,” he

Gary Shunk @ Asendia USA

says. “Because of the trust we have built in each other’s people, systems, and capabilities, we are successful at working together and finding creative ways to adjust services. This flexibility allows us to find cost-effective solutions that meet the expectations of both organizations.” Shunk understands the importance of an individual approach and believes it is vital to create custom solutions for each customer. “We understand that one size does not fit all, so we make a point to work with each customer to create a customized solution that suits their business plan,” he says. “Some may want the most economical method for international distribution because their product value is low, and high international shipping costs on low-value orders can deter consumers from shopping outside their home country. Others want speed, and cost is not as critical. Almost all retailers want to be able to have the tracking visibility their consumers expect and the data that supports the performance.” With COVID-19 disrupting organizations globally, Shunk affirms that employee safety has become critical. “We’re very fortunate to have operations managers and operation workers that we have because they’ve gone above and beyond,” he says. “The pandemic has brought people closer together as a team. Communication has been positive and we’ve worked extremely hard. All six of our operating facilities have been able to stay open, but it has changed the way we manage our employees and how we remotely manage the company.” With the future in mind, Shunk has a clear idea of what he expects the next few years at Asendia to look like. “As the ecommerce industry continues to grow and adapt to the ever-changing needs of consumers, Asendia looks forward to continuing along on this journey with our customers to help them evolve with the changes and enjoy long-term growth and success with both domestic and international sales.”


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fast-paced growth of the organisation.

apart is its ability to be lean and agile in

“Imagine a giant cube with 73 robots

the market. “We have the right leader-

crisscrossing and bringing products

ship that empowers all of us to take

to an operator. We’ve married two

on responsibilities,” explains Shetty.

technologies together to essentially

“We are quick and agile, and embrace

sort orders and ensure the customer

technology that enables us to deploy

gets the perfect order,” affirms Nikhil

projects at scale. I feel this differenti-

Shetty, Supply Chain Manager. “It’s

ates us from our competitors and will

powered with strong algorithms where

help us grow over the next few years.”

we have intelligently stored products

“From a supplier management

and the finished product is a finalised

perspective, having tools that we’ve

sequence which allows the customer

developed internally and allow our

to have the right order that they want.”

suppliers to have access to has ena-

He adds that what sets Adore Me

bled us to speed up certain pieces


within our development process,”

processes and manage the shipment

explains Christina Chang, Product-to-

process is critical.”

Market Manager. “This has allowed

Liot believes that the most

us to have faster feedback from

important reason to introduce the

our manufacturers and has helped

warehouse was to be more autono-

reduce timings and has allowed us

mous and independent, while saving

to make decisions in a very effective

money. “We’ve made the decision to

way. Having those tools in place to

be more autonomous,” he explains.

allow us to manage our manufacturing

“We felt it was possible to disrupt the

E X E C U T I V E P R O FILE :

Romain Liot Title: Co-founder and COO

11 Company: Adore Me

Industry: Fashion Romain Liot is a co-founder and COO of Adore Me. Romain leads Adore Me’s team of 250 employees across the U.S. and Europe, focusing primarily on marketing and operations. With revenues growing exponentially from $1M in 2012 to over $100M in 2019, Romain has led Adore Me to become one of the fastest-growing companies in New York (ranked #17 on Crain’s Fast 50 in 2017) and one of the fastestgrowing retailers in the U.S. (ranked three times on the Inc. 500 list of the fastest-growing private companies in America). Prior to Adore Me, Romain spent seven years working as a management consultant for McKinsey & Company on projects in Europe and South-East Asia. He holds an MBA from INSEAD and a Masters from the London School of Economics. www.a do re m e. com


ADORE ME

fashion industry and be more effi-

in terms of its procurement strategy.

cient with a better cost. Our cost of

“Our business model is not necessarily

shipment is now 70-80% lower than

fast fashion because we often see a

the benchmark in the industry. We

14-month time gap from product con-

empower them and make them oper-

ception until the product is delivered at

ate at a much higher efficiency.”

the warehouse,” explains Chang. “We

The COVID-19 pandemic has

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spend time on sourcing the materi-

impacted organisations and industries

als as it’s essential that we have high

across the world. As a result, Chang

quality products. We’ve experienced

explains that Adore Me was forced

delays in shipping from Asia because

to adjust its mindset and processes

of COVID-19 and we’ve had to work

E X E C U T I V E P R O FILE :

Christina Chang Title: Product-to-Market Manager

Company: Adore Me

Industry: Fashion Christina Chang joined Adore Me in 2018. As Product-to-Market Manager, Christina is responsible for vendor management and sourcing strategy, as well as production and inventory management. Christina also collaborates with Adore Me’s IT developers in building proprietary tools to manage and streamline business processes. Prior to Adore Me, Christina worked in the financial services industry, first at AllianceBernstein and more recently at Morgan Stanley. She has also worked in strategy & operations at two consumer product startups. Christina holds an MBA from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and a BA from Columbia University.


quickly to procure more inventory to meet demand. Being nimble and being able to leverage our partnerships with our manufacturers has been vital.” Shetty adds that Adore Me put a considerable amount of effort in its logistics to better meet the challenge of COVID-19. “We tested a new set of robotic arms in order to keep our operational rhythm up and running as usual and allow our orders to get to our

“We’ve married two technologies together to sort orders and ensure the customer gets the perfect order” — Nikhil Shetty, Supply Chain Manager, Adore Me

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ADORE ME

“I believe being as agile and as nimble as we were during that tough time was one of our key strengths during the pandemic” — Christina Chang, Product-to-Market Manager, Adore Me 14

customers,” he says. “The logistics network was hit fairly bad because of a surge in sales and limited staff due to safety protocols which meant a delay in shipments. This seemed like a very good opportunity or a time for us to test out this new decentralised carrier system in the Northeast and allow next day delivery to our customers. I believe being as agile and as nimble as we were during that tough time was one of our key strengths during the pandemic.”


Adore Me recognises the value of establishing key, strategic partnerships with companies to create mutually beneficial collaborations. Chang stresses how essential business relationships are in order to be successful in the industry. “We rely heavily on our manufacturing partners in Asia and across the world, because without them, we really wouldn’t be able to deliver high quality products to our customers,” she explains. “I believe the key for us has been cultivating partnerships with our manufacturers that are really meant for the long-term and can last. We want to grow with our partners and join forces on innovation, sustainability and establish that mutual trust to increase efficiency across the supply chain.” Chang affirms that the strength of Adore Me’s partnerships has really shone through during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Having that mutual support during this really difficult and challenging time has allowed us to go beyond the normal timelines and procure at a greater pace and without that backing, it would have been a lot harder,” www.a do re m e. com

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E X E C UTIVE P R O FILE :

Nikhil Shetty Title: Supply Chain Manager

Company: Adore Me

Industry: Fashion Nikhil Shetty has a Masters in Engineering and Industrial Management at Syracuse University. Nikhil has had the opportunity to intern at both a Distribution Center and an early-stage healthcare startup in India. This instilled a love of startups and logistics, which helped him find the perfect combination at Adore Me. He oversees logistics networks and strategic sourcing of packaging.


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she explains. “When we’re seeking to

We have a very open and understand-

form a partnership, we’re searching

ing partnership and it has generated a

for partners that are aligned to our

lot of value. Asendia also places con-

strategy and can mutually grow with

siderable importance on sustainability,

us.” Liot points to its partnership with

which is incredibly important to us too.”

Asendia as a particularly important

With sustainability in mind, Shetty

relationship. “We’ve worked with

affirms that Adore Me is committed to

Asendia for several years and we

its sustainability goals and has under-

challenge them every year,” explains

taken several initiatives to achieve a

Liot. “Asendia have shared values

more environmentally friendly packag-

with us and acknowledge when things

ing output. “We now have an ecomailer

aren’t perfect and are always willing

which is made up of recycled content

to work with us to make things better.

and can be recycled. We’re using www.a do re m e. com


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smarter materials to leave a smaller carbon footprint, while also reducing the logistical footprint too.” Looking to the future, Liot believes the fashion industry will have to change and believes it will transform in three directions. “The industry will become more digital across all platforms. There will be a digitalisation in the supply chain and in operations which will be essential and will leave organisations with no choice,” he says. “Secondly, sustainability will become more influential and prominent in everyday operations. As climate change continues to have an effect and impact, it will be imperative to reduce the carbon footprint. Lastly, there will be a change in globalisation. I believe there needs to be a much shorter cycle and I expect there will be a geographical shift in the coming years.”

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Adore Me October 2020  

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