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Unboxing Logistics: An EasyPost Podcast

Celebrating Women in Logistics: 11 Guest Spotlights - Ep. 29

March 27, 2024 | 31:40

In This Episode

March is Women’s History Month—a time to focus on the accomplishments and contributions of women who have helped shape the world. In honor of the occasion, we’ve decided to highlight some modern-day women who have used their knowledge, experience, and leadership skills to influence the world of logistics. 

This special episode features our women guests from seasons one and two of Unboxing Logistics. Although they all specialize in different areas of logistics—from warehouse management to shipping to supply chain technology—they share something in common. Each of them is helping to pave the way for women in a traditionally male-dominated industry. 

This episode contains key insights and advice from our women guests. To hear more, make sure to check out their individual episodes: 


Lori Boyer 00:00 

Welcome, everyone, to a very special episode of Unboxing Logistics. I'm your host, Lori Boyer, from EasyPost. Over the past year, I have had the absolute privilege of interviewing some of the most intelligent, insightful, and forward-thinking women in the supply chain industry. With March being Women's History Month, I thought that this was just such a perfect time for us to revisit some of their insights.

So, without further ado, Women in Supply Chain. First off, I spoke with Jessica Lowrance of UPS all about that dreaded porch piracy issue. Legislation, regulations. Take a listen. 

What are the challenges that we're seeing with laws and legislation around porch piracy. What are what are some of the issues that we're we have, you know, nationwide in the United States?

Jessica Lowrance 00:55 

So under current law, federal law, it only the Postal Service is treated as a felony for porch piracy, right? And so carriers any of them that, that, that doesn't have, you know, the little eagle for Postal on it, it is up to local jurisdiction on how it is handled. Nine times out of 10, if they even come it would be considered a misdemeanor.

 And I, I imagine larger ticket items probably hold more weight. But then you, you gotta be able, even everyone's getting Ring, Ring cameras. And even then you can barely make out with enough clarity on who is the person that's actually doing it. So the charges in these cases are very small. What we have seen and what we have heard, is that it's, the ones that folks really want to be prosecuted are the groups that where it's organized.

Where they go in and they hit an entire townhouse. You know, and take every package in a townhouse community. Not only is it that there's really nothing there that as a stick, right. To say, don't do this. The retailers have made it so easy just to report the loss and get a new one. That you're not, no one's worse off. The people who are worse off in the, well, everyone's worse off when 19 billion of goods go missing.

Right. But the company's worse off. But then in the end, they need to charge more to make up for the loss that they're suffering. In the end, the consumer, even though we can't see it on a piece of paper, you know, is experiencing increased prices because of 19 billion being stolen. And, and they're getting that money, right?

No, one's reporting massive losses from porch piracy. So they're getting the money back. Right? So they're just finding, finding different and creative ways to do it. And I think there's starting to be at least from a retailer perspective and from a carrier perspective, a pushback on no consequences. Because there are consequences.

Just the average person can't see them. They're just paying for them. Right. And so I think they're, you know, federal legislation would help to continue to then push the other, you know, 42 states to at least consider making harsher consequences. You know, I don't want to send any way anyone away, you know, to prison for life for stealing, you know, my packet of pens.

But, you know, if they're, if they stole everybody's packets of pens, it's a different conversation, right? 

Lori Boyer 03:43 

And here's Kelli Martin from FedEx talking to all our small businesses about AI. It's a big topic. 

Kelli Martin 03:50

I think the rise of AI, I think a lot of small businesses are kind of like, hmm, how do I do that? I think they're probably dabbling in it with, you know, creating product descriptions or content paragraphs for the website or whatever.

Just the small generic things that we know AI can do. I think beyond that, I think they're in this wait and see mode. And digital intelligence for sure is something that's going to be huge in the very near future. And knowing, having access to lots of data and digital data to better understand your customer, better position, your shipping or whatever it is.

All of that's gonna become available very quickly, very soon. And I think small businesses should be jumping on that. 'Cause I, I, I see it starting to happen now. And I see that, I hear the talk about digital intelligence, smart logistics. I hear all of this all the time. And being able to make that data available to customers, that will enhance their business and enhance their experience with their customers, I think is gonna be super critical.

Lori Boyer 04:59 

For small businesses, absolutely. Keep an eye on what's happening with it. My brother runs a small business and that is something he said. I feel like I might miss out and I'm not sure what to do. I think that that's probably how most of our small businesses feel right now. My advice, just like you. Make sure you're reading about it.

Watch podcasts, listen to podcasts, you know, read up in the news, what is coming out. One of the great benefits small businesses have is that ability to be agile and to try new things that where the big corporations maybe are a little more slow. It is a great opportunity to be able to put those to use. So yeah, that's awesome trends. 

Jill Barron and I had such a great conversation about the importance of relationships in this industry. I've been really surprised as I jumped into logistics and supply chain and how very critical relationships are in this industry. More than in many others I've seen. And if you're not actively working to build those relationships, I think that that can be a big detriment to you.

Jill Barron 06:09 

When you think about supplier relationships, a lot of times you think about how those relationships benefit the processes that happens within the four walls of a DC. And in our experience, I say our, the, myself and my, my team that I had at this luxury retailer, they were all very passionate about relationships.

What we, what we found was our relationships on the supply chain side really started to seep into other areas of the business, like the merchants or the buyers. A lot of times when you, when a vendor or a supplier feels that the retailer or their partner is meeting them halfway, right, they're not coming out, you know, hitting them over the head with a hammer all the time and, you know, charging them back. They're a lot more willing to come up with concessions, like whether it be sell-through, you know, guarantees. Or helping with markdown allowances when product doesn't sell. Or potentially giving more in advertising allowances, right?

So, you know, what we found is typically, a supplier's pie of money that they have to spend is only so big, right? And when, when there's punitive charges that kind of result in a poor relationship, that takes up a big piece of that pie. And when you eliminate that or significantly reduce that, and then you start having really positive collaborative conversations, the more willing suppliers are to maybe spend a little bit more on those other pieces of the pie that are more beneficial for both businesses. 

Lori Boyer 08:00 

We have people call us here just an EasyPost who ask for advice all the time. You know, just talking wanting to talk to their CSM or something and get advice like, oh, I want to go international.

What would that look like for my business? Or I'm looking to expand these areas or out of DC. You know, can you give me advice? And, and that sounds like that plays into it. 

Jill Barron 08:20 

Yeah, we, I have a perfect example for that, actually, that, that we experienced. It was for a luxury handbag vendor that was looking to shorten their supply chain.

And we had developed such a really strong relationship with this supplier over the years, myself and my team, that when they were looking at ways to shorten their supply chain and potentially bring, bring product into the states in a different port in order to be closer to not only the retailer that I was working at, but their retail stores and others, they came to us for advice. 

Just like you said, they, they came to us and said, we want to run something by you. Like, what do you think if we bring product into the port of Long Beach instead of another port? And, you know, you know, that you've hit like the pinnacle of relationship when your suppliers are asking your opinion. And so that was pretty cool.

Lori Boyer 09:21 

We were talking about the differences from working at home and working in the office. And I think there's kind of a parallel here. We're saying how at home we can just be heads down, efficiency, efficiency, working, working, working. But there's something about those soft relationships and throwing ideas back and forth that when you do see people in person have those phone conversations that you do get a little bit more of that relationship building and things, you know, ideas to, to spur. So I feel like that's kind of similar. 

Jill Barron 09:51 

Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. 

Lori Boyer 09:53 

Nancy Seaboldt and I really dug into the change management topic. I was really interested in the things she had to say about communication on this topic. You know, communication always feels like one of these soft skills that it's not always easy to measure.

We don't have the KPI and metrics to be like, wow, you communicated really well. You know, it's just a hard thing to measure. And because of that it can sometimes get missed. Do you have anything else to say around that, especially when it comes to change management, but also any of the roles, what, how do you recommend that communication takes place?

Nancy Seaboldt 10:25 

Early and often. Yeah, early and often. And it's, you know, it's, it's also the, the, the mechanism. How do you typically communicate with your associates and being creative about how to connect them. Especially in a world where a lot of people are remote. It's a little bit easier, you know, when people are all in the same place and you can get them together and have big formal meetings. But being remote, you know, it's, it's got its own challenges.

You know, you need to keep the organization up to speed and on, on the journey. Right. So it's going to help with adoption and relieve that anxiety as you get closer to implementation. How are you going to take your associates to the new business process? It's defining the roadmap for going from A to B from a, from a personal standpoint.

And that's, you know, a communication plan. How are you going to keep everyone informed throughout the project? And how are you going to keep them excited and, and up to date on what's coming, right. And just kind of prepare them for the change. Defining those SOPs, those standard operating procedures, right?

So how are they going to function go forward and making sure that those are mapped out. That's really going to help onboard new associates and help adoption go forward. And it's also about assessing the roles and responsibilities that will be needed go forward. And does that mean organizational change for your company?

You know, are you going to be moving somebody from one department to another because, you know, that process is shifting a bit. And do you have the skillset to support that go forward? 

Lori Boyer 12:04 

Okay. If you're wanting to learn about omnichannel, there is no one better to talk to than Kylie Schafer. Listen to what she had to say.

Kylie Schafer 12:12 

Omnichannel these days is really just good retail. So this will probably give you an indication as to my age, but when I started, you basically had stores. Right. So you had a single channel that you were selling through, then maybe you have a website and you're kind of in multichannel land, right? You will run those channels reasonably independently, they'd be separate teams, they'd be separate stock pots, you wouldn't really have crossing over processes, you wouldn't really have any of that.

Whereas now most organizations have some level of cross-pollination between those two. Maybe you can buy online and return in a store. That's an online capability. Maybe when you go to your website, you can log in and you can see your store history as of purchases, as well as your online purchase history.

Maybe you're being recognized automatically and they, it, you know, it knows that you like experiences and not purchases. So your experience is tailored on that website that you visit. So there, there's some fundamentals and prerequisites to, to, being omnichannel. But that's really what it is. It's just good retail. Meet the customer where they are, help them shop the way they wanna shop, get things to them in the way that they want to receive it.

Lori Boyer 13:29 

So basically having multiple channels in which people can purchase from you, whether that's a physical store, an online store. Does that expand then Kylie to like, so let's say that you're selling on a marketplace or you're on Shopify, and you've got your website and, and how does that tie into the omnichannel experience?

Kylie Schafer 13:49 

Yeah, really what makes it omnichannel as opposed to multichannel is crossing over between the channels. So, for example, if you can buy online and pick up in-store or return it in-store, or if you are recognized across multiple channels. It's basically being able to fulfill for the customer, regardless of where they started interacting with you.

So maybe that customer comes to your website, but the stock is in the store around the corner from them. They can pick it up. You can ship it to them from the store or whatever that looks like. It's really that cross-pollination across those different selling channels that moves you from being multi-channel to being omnichannel.

Lori Boyer 14:33 

Been wondering if you are ready for an OMS or maybe if you need to change OMSs? That's why I had Gemma Shaw on the show. She was an absolute boss in helping us know when we might be ready for an OMS, what we should be looking for in terms of finding an OMS. Check it out. 

Gemma Shaw 14:52 

I guess you have to analyze, you know, the cost of your time currently spent on managing those orders. I mean, if you've got a 50-dollar order and you've had to call the customer five times, I mean, what's the point? You know, if you're having to continually chase your 3PL because orders are slipping through the cracks. Well, then that's just, what's the point in paying them to do that? You know, there is a better way to manage it.

So that's where an OMS comes in. So an OMS is we enable businesses to centralize all of their orders. So this is particularly beneficial if you've got multiple sales channels going on. You're selling in you know, various markets, maybe even globally or in different countries. So all of your orders are housed in one place for visibility and management.

Lori Boyer 15:31 

Okay. So this is omnichannel as well. So if you've got a brick-and-mortar store and you've got your online store and you've got multiple locations or whatever, it will centralize all of your information. 

Gemma Shaw 15:43 

That's right. That's right. The risk with not having an OMS. That sounds like a negative starting point, but it's not meant to be, is that things can slip through the cracks. 

When humans are involved in managing, you know, levels of, I don't know how many of the volume of sales that people are receiving. There's always a risk that something won't make it through. Or there'll be an error, and there'll be a disgruntled customer. You know, with an OMS, you've got the opportunity to make use of automation to take time back that you were spending with customers or managing relationships or whatever it is. And those manual tasks and spend it better, like it's better placed on your business elsewhere.

So that would be probably my advice. If you, if you're at that point where you want to grow your business, you really want to scale, you want to expand into new markets or territories or regions or whatever it is, you want to have two warehouses fulfilling your orders, for example. Because you've identified that one warehouse is really good at fulfilling these types of items, but they don't have the others that you really want to add to your inventory.

But this one over here does. Well, that's what an OMS can do. And they can do it seamlessly in the background. If a business is happy to stay, you know, receiving this level of orders and they can manage it themselves and they're just, you know, trucking along. But if they really want to grow and expand and scale I'd say that an OMS just, it just makes sense from that point of view.

Lori Boyer 17:02 

Veena Harbaugh. I love you, Veena. She had some super insightful thoughts around sustainability. I was a little geeking out during her presentation. 

Veena Harbaugh 17:13 

I'm, I'm thinking of a company's sustainability journey. And there's things that you're going to do right at the beginning. And that those things are often efficiency-style things. Where there is a cost-saving and a carbon-saving component. And then further along, as you get into that journey, you might be making some investments, right, into new materials, working with a different manufacturer, things like that. Where you might be making some investments. But by that point, your business is building to the point where you're going to be able to capitalize on a customer segment that's excited about that. 

You're going to be lining up your growth. Because we, we talked about how, what you do as a business is going to be aligned to sustainability. So you can be able to capture revenue related to that. But in the very beginning, it's like I would be looking for cost-saving solutions that also have a sustainability component.

So very simple ones are like right-sizing packaging, but you're not paying for any empty air. You're also not emitting more, because that that truck is able to be packed more efficiently. And so there's, there's so many places where there is a cost-saving solution and a carbon solution that go together.

And so I think the more that we can see sustainability as something that can help our business, as a business advantage and not this, you know, premium cost or trade-off. We're going to be building in things that truly help our business grow and fund that long-term viability of our business. 

Lori Boyer 18:41 

And here's some really great advice from Dematic's Kim Baudry around sustainability in the warehouse. Really good ideas. 

Kim Baudry 18:49 

There's a ton of things you can do inside the DC to actually help be proactive on the sustainability side of things. We start with software as your foundation, right? So a software system that is connected to your inventory and to your equipment, first of all, can help you have increased inventory accuracy. Which then contributes to increased order accuracy. Which then contributes to less returns.

The other things are things obviously that we hear about, you know, using packaging equipment that doesn't require a lot of air and builds a package around an individual item or a group of items. Being able to build out the cube of your truck, your outbound truck better. So we have less trucks on the road.

And speaking of cube, which is about space, I think about when you use automation, especially when you can use things that store product in smaller spaces, pick, pack in smaller spaces. We can actually shrink the size of a distribution center significantly. So globally, this is a, this is an issue. And we operate in the Asia Pacific region. And there are, you know, five-level distribution centers outside of Sydney, Australia, Korea. Is, you know, we have quoted on several levels instead of going out, they have to go up.

So if you think about that, you don't. You can't have inventory spread across a million square foot distribution center anymore. You use a lot more energy when you're doing that. You're, you know, using land that you might not need to. And the cost of all that's going up, too. So, space utilization is a big thing to think about when you're thinking about sustainability inside the four walls, and even how it impacts the outside the four walls.

When you are vertical, you actually can, and if you do use the vertical space of your building you're actually more energy efficient. We don't have to have lights on inside of, for instance, an automatic storage and retrieval system. They can be dark. And so the space that we're lighting is where the person is working.

 And during, you know, the night, all that's dark, but yeah. 

Lori Boyer 21:02

Okay. So everybody is watching. Go look in your warehouse. Are you using all of your vertical space? Have you got a lot of empty space up there? I'm sure if you do, you're not alone. So don't worry. But that does mean that, you know, you're probably using up more energy than you need to be. That's a great sign there.

Finally, we're going to finish up with three of my amazing female colleagues here at EasyPost. To start, I spoke with Jicara Gorski and we were able to announce a really cool sustainability initiative right here at EasyPost. Every label that comes out through EasyPost is going to be carbon neutral at no cost to our customers.

Jicara Gorski 21:51 

We have been able to actually allow customers to calculate their carbon offsets for labels that they purchased through EasyPost for about a year now. And after piloting that program and realizing and learning that there is a much stronger expectation for companies to take part in their responsibility.

We, we realized that we'd been sitting on our hands, not offering this to all of our customers. And so what we will be doing is we'll be simply rolling this out for every customer who comes and purchases a shipping label through either our shipping API or our UI label creation tool. We will calculate it, and we will include it in the purchase of their label at no cost to them, of course. And we will purchase projects for decarbonization efforts around the world to help offset our own carbon responsibility.

This is not an investment that we take lightly. And what we wanted to do is we wanted to remove any concern for cost from our customers with being able to participate in this type of program. So this is an effort and, in our continuing partnership with our customers. Listening to them, understanding what, what their end customers are expecting of them. And coming to the table with a viable solution to help them meet their needs.

Lori Boyer 23:27

When I first heard about this, the fact that it was free to our customers. Like you said, this is not a small investment for our, our company. It's, it's a large investment. And I was so impressed just with our CEO and founder. He has really been, you know, a driver behind this and somebody who helped spearhead this effort so well, because he knows how important it is in the industry.

He knows it's where we need to go. But also he knows it's hard for our customers. That is the number one question I hear is how can I be sustainable without needing to pay a whole bunch of money? And so I really love that this helps meet that need so well. One of my favorite quotes, and I'm going to look at it.

Comes from Robert Swan. He's a, he's this really cool environmentalist who, you know, has gone to the different polls. And if you haven't read his books, you should. They're really interesting. But he said, the greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it. And I think that as a shipping industry, as our own CEO has done, you know, we can all do our part.

And so it's really, really cool that he's footing the bill, that we're putting forward the money, that anybody who comes and participates can just know that they have it and it's covered and that they are getting carbon neutral with their shipments through easy posts. So that's really exciting.

Holy cow. I learned so much from Ching Pei about product management. No matter where you are in the industry, this is something you're not going to want to miss. 

So some of the indicators that it may be time for product management is that you are getting a lot of requests from customers for features and additions, things like that, and that your customer success team is struggling with things are being on fire and there's a little bit of a lack of direction there in what to do. 

Ching Pei 25:18 


Lori Boyer 25:19 

How do you balance then maybe what is, feels like kind of what the company wants to do. So in our case it would be EasyPost. So how do you balance what EasyPost's goals are with all these customer requests that are coming in? How do you find that balance? 

Ching Pei 25:34 

In that first state, right? You would actually never balance the two. You're always reactive, so it's always what the customer is asking that you're working on. In order for you to get out of that cycle, somebody has to come in and prioritize the work. And look at the ecosystem of competitors, your customers your partners. To understand how is it that we can move to kind of continue to carve out in our niche, right?

You'll talk about things like carving out a competitive moat. How do I create this barrier between me and my competitors that will allow us to be, continue to be successful in the long term? And you have different functions that do that, right? Marketing does a little bit of that. Sales does a little bit of that.

But it's all kind of fragmented. And so product really needs to kind of bring all of that together. I think of product as a center spoke of a wheel and each of your departments kind of surrounding that, right? When a product manager comes in, what they're doing is they're hearing all of this feedback coming in. External customers and internal customers.

And then that's their job to come in and then prioritize, right. And really look at the business and say, where is our trajectory? Where's our value? How are we going to get healthy in terms of that balance between reactive versus proactive? You'll hear the phrase, everybody's in product a lot. Because it is, right?

I want to hear all of the ideas from everybody, but I'm also serving everybody, right? There's a give and take. So it's a really fine line and a balance between what are our external customers asking for, but how do I enable the business? We are, you know, I'd love to be, but we aren't doing all of this for free and a nonprofit of some sort.

Like, we have to make money to continue to provide the service, right? To be able to do that for our customers. And so if we are healthy, then our customers get the best product. And so it is this balance of understanding that you need to drive the same level of impact for your customers externally as you do for your internal customers.

Lori Boyer 27:51 

And to finish it off, none other than the one and only Anna Podolskaya. She is my colleague and my friend here at EasyPost. And she talked all about women in technology and sustainability. She's quite a finish to our show today.

Anna Podolskaya 28:08 

I'm really thankful. And I'm noticing how it's different in Europe and in the United States in terms of women in logistics and in technology.

Lori Boyer 28:17 

Okay, that's, that's a great segue to what I was just wondering about. What are some of the differences you've seen? Even in general in the logistics industry, but also when it comes to women between some of the different places you've lived?

Anna Podolskaya 28:30 

You know, surprisingly, I never thought that there's such a huge gap in the United States. Because growing up in Eastern Europe, we have so many women engineers, so many women doctors.

My mom is a doctor. And we have lawyers. We have judges. And they're all equal. When, until the moment coming to the maternity leave, they're all equal. After maternity leave, there is a some changes like dramatic changes. And like, that's another topic. And then I came to United States and I came to one of the schools in San Francisco.

Where I spoke with the girls in the fifth grade and they were asking me questions about STEM, if it's okay to be a part of like STEM education. And I'm like, I even don't know how this question come to you because then I'm like, why it's not okay? Because it's not popular. And I think it's changing here a lot.

I'm really proud. I'm talking about logistic industry. As I mentioned, I attended Parcel Forum for last three years and they start doing a woman and logistic branch where you can see how many women attending this event. That's amazing. And also this year I became a part of woman and logistics and delivery service which called WILDS. I love the name. 

Lori Boyer 29:49 


Anna Podolskaya 29:50 

Yeah. They're supporting a lot of initiatives for workers in logistics and delivery. Which is great. I see there is a lot of push. Our company helping a lot to promote diversity and to hire more engineers, hire more C-level people, middle management. It's absolutely changing. Like people see the needs in this sector. That we need to have different voices. 

Lori Boyer 30:14 

Yes. And it is great. And I think sometimes we just don't always know the easiest way to go about it. And can you name the organizations again that people can be? So if you are a woman in logistics, what are some of those organizations you just named?

Anna Podolskaya 30:26 

One of the organization called WILDS, Women in Logistics and Delivery Services. They're based in Washington, D.C. I'm personally also part of Women in Technology and Girls Who Code. And the Girls Geek. I'm like part of a lot of organization in San Francisco to support women in technology. But there is not that many for women in logistics.

Like technology is rising and people are aware. Logistics, I think they're still catching up. 

Lori Boyer 30:54 

Yeah, I think you're right. And logistics, we all know we're a little slow in this industry of adopting a lot of things. So we're a little slower with adopting technology. We're a little slower with making change and, and that's fine. But that means there's lots of opportunities for us to improve and, and to get even better.

And that about wraps it up. Thank you again to the incredible women who have shared insights and thoughts here on Unboxing Logistics. Everyone, I love you. I'm glad to have you in our community, and I cannot wait to see you in Season Three.