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Unboxing Logistics: An EasyPost Podcast

The (Flex) Factor: Mastering Flexibility To Get Ahead in Logistics With Jeremy Bodenhamer From ShipHawk - Ep. 33

June 26, 2024 | 40:20

In This Episode

Finding, hiring, and training warehouse workers has become more difficult through the years—and it won’t get any easier. At the same time, manual processes aren’t scalable or sustainable. The solution? Invest in technology that helps employees do their jobs more efficiently. Jeremy Bodenhamer, founder and CEO of ShipHawk, explains why this gives businesses an edge.

Why flexibility is essential

Jeremy explains that as ecommerce has gained popularity, some sellers have struggled to keep up with rapidly shifting consumer expectations. But that’s exactly what they need to do to stay afloat. 

“Buyers are expecting smaller brands to be up to speed like they were giant brands. … Merchants have to get their operations to scale on day one, no matter what. There's no learning curve. There's no grace period. I've seen buyers completely abandon brands over slow or error-prone fulfillment or shipping or even communication.”

Solving labor problems with technology

It’s a big issue in the logistics space: labor is scarce, with few people willing to take physically demanding warehouse jobs. According to Jeremy, he hears “from customers every day how hard it is not just to find, but to hire and train workers.”

Technology can help. “These companies need to think about training and more importantly, repurposing the people they have. How do [they] make training easier? How do [they] make sure they can fill roles in multiple areas of the business? … If I'm using dated, very difficult to use, expensive to operate, expensive to train, laborious products, software, hardware … I'm compounding my labor problem.”

Measuring warehouse performance

Lori and Jeremy discuss a few things you should know about your logistics operations: What job needs to be done? Who is doing it? And how are you measuring the results? That final question is especially crucial. For organizations that haven’t been collecting and analyzing fulfillment data, Jeremy suggests starting small. 

“Start with one metric … [and] make sure the new systems that are purchased or implemented can support that one. And if [they] can't, or you're not buying something new, look at what your current systems can support. What's the path of least resistance to start measuring something?”

Links

Transcript

Lori Boyer 00:00 

Welcome everyone back to Unboxing Logistics. You know the drill. I'm your host, Lori Boyer from here at EasyPost. And I am really thrilled today to have on an amazing guest, Jeremy Bodenhamer. He is here to talk to us all about flexibility in logistics. This is a really huge topic. I, you know, I've heard people say that change is one of the most difficult and one of the most scary things to deal with in business and in life.

And unfortunately, it's kind of the lot we've been given here in the logistics industry. So Jeremy's written an amazing book on this topic. I'm going to turn it over to Jeremy. I want you to go ahead and explain who you are. Tell us a little bit about why you wrote your book and just your role. 

Jeremy Bodenhamer 00:49 

Oh, sure. Thanks, Lori. I appreciate you having me. Well, who I am I'm first and foremost, a husband and father. I have three little boys nine, 11, and now 13. 

Lori Boyer 01:03 

Nice. 

Jeremy Bodenhamer 01:04 

So my house and life is chaos all the time. 

Lori Boyer 01:07 

13 year olds are a special breed. I have a bunch of kids too and you know, those are fun years, so.

Jeremy Bodenhamer 01:13

They are. I am the founder and CEO of ShipHawk. We make a, an inventory and fulfillment management platform. WMS, shipping software audit reconciliation, ecommerce rules, really everything that manufacturers, retailers, ecommerce wholesale distributors need to run their, their warehouse operations.

Anyone that has an owned and operated facility. And so, yeah, I wrote Adapt or Die. And I believe, you know, that small and mid-sized companies feed families and build communities. And I wrote Adapt or Die because we need to give these independent businesses the tools they need to compete with the giants that they're up against.

Historically, there's been an insufficient focus on operations. You know, walk into a bookstore, find one online. You're going to find countless books on sales and marketing, the space in front of the buy button, but almost nothing on operations, the space behind the buy button. We've got best place workplaces awards, all this focus on the front office.

Well, that's sales. That's marketing. That's engineering. It's all the space in front of the buy button, right? Most businesses don't treat operations with the same level of importance. And to survive and to thrive, they need to. So I wrote Adapt or Die for one reason to give to educate shippers, I should say, to educate merchants. Nine out of ten prospects our sales team talks to do not have any defined operational goals or operational metrics that they're using to manage their business. 

Lori Boyer 02:49 

That is crazy. 

Jeremy Bodenhamer 02:51 

Yeah, they've got, every business has sales and marketing goals. Why not in the warehouse? Right. 

Lori Boyer 02:56 

Absolutely. Okay. I am so excited to dig into this topic. I think you are completely right. This is a very needed and necessary discussion. And we do want to support those businesses. Those are really the backbone of the economy. So I can't wait. But first I want, our audience always loves to get to know people just a little bit. So my first question for you today, Jeremy, just to get to know you a little bit better is what is your go to comfort food? If you're gonna eat anything for comfort, what is it gonna be? 

Jeremy Bodenhamer 03:28 

I mean, I, I do tell my boys all the time that I am a man who eats my feelings. Yeah, a nice juicy hamburger is great. You know, if it has to be a sweet, it's definitely chocolate chip cookies. And it's not a cookie if it doesn't have chocolate.

Lori Boyer 03:44 

Oh my goodness. Okay. First of all, I love hamburgers. When I was a kid, I was one of those kids who ordered a hamburger at every restaurant my parents took us to, no matter what it was, and so they would tease me. But, I also love chocolate chip cookies. I've been traveling for work this week, and my kids messaged me saying, sorry Mom, we made homemade chocolate chip cookies. Too bad you're not here. So, we, we could definitely have a good meal together. 

Jeremy Bodenhamer 04:09 

I love it. 

Lori Boyer 04:10 

That's awesome. Okay. One other quick question. What do you like to do in your free time? What, what's a hobby? You know, where can we find Jeremy? 

Jeremy Bodenhamer 04:19 

I mean I love surfing but my, my real hobby is building strength in my boys. You know, doing workouts with them. I coach their little league teams, their flag football teams. You know, the runs, the weightlifting, all the stuff that, that we do together. So I do that. And then if there's time left over, I paddle out and go surfing. 

Lori Boyer 04:41 

Oh, nice. And do you take the boys surfing with you?

Jeremy Bodenhamer 04:43 

Absolutely. 

Lori Boyer 04:44 

Oh, that sounds fantastic. Okay. All right. At the beginning of every one of our episodes, I like to ask our guests for a few key takeaways. So if somebody was to hear and was only able to listen for a few minutes even, you know, what are the key things you would want them to go and remember from listening to today's episode?

Jeremy Bodenhamer 05:03 

Yeah, I've got, I've got four for you. They're all on the same vein though. So one could argue they're, they're all one. Number one is finding, hiring, and training warehouse workers is going to continue to get more difficult over time, not easier. 

Lori Boyer 05:21 

Okay. 

Jeremy Bodenhamer 05:22 

Number two is manual operations will not scale no matter how many people you can actually find to run them, to operate them. Number three is because of this, frontline workers that can be brought on board will become even more important to the success of the business. We can't afford to let these people go. We've got to give them the tools they need and make them more productive, productive, more effective. Right. 

And then to wrap it all up, this means that automating distribution centers is one of the best things we can do for the success of our business. Right. I want to point out, this does not have to mean robots. There are many practical automations and software and day-to-day hardware tools that can provide significant automation without investing in giant robotic projects, right? So I think my sum it all up is, people are important. We need to invest in the people and invest in automations, and together that will drive the success of the business. 

Lori Boyer 06:25

Okay, I love that I have spoken to a lot of different experts and a couple of them have said things that have stuck with me and become kind of my mantra. And one of that is that it's the people, the processes, and the technology.

And that's what I'm hearing from you is you got to focus on, you know, all of these different areas because, you know, just having one or the other, you know, it's not going to work. We have to ...

Jeremy Bodenhamer 06:50 

It's an imbalance. 

Lori Boyer 06:51 

Exactly. So, okay. I want to talk about why you feel like kind of adaptability, flexibility is so critical or, you know, maybe how have consumer expectations changed? What, what is it that's driving this kind of need? 

Jeremy Bodenhamer 07:06 

If we just look at the period since COVID, right? The last few years alone. The way I like to think about it is everything's happening faster. Right? The buyer, which is you and me, we are the ones that drive all this change at the end of the day. The business is just reacting.

Buyers are expecting smaller brands to be up to speed like they were giant brands immediately. Meaning if you and I go to, you know, if we're scrolling on, on, on Instagram and there's an ad and we click that ad and buy that product, we expect it to show up just like Amazon fulfilled it. Even though Amazon's this massive company, right? So just like it was buyers who set these two day and next day and same day expectations years ago, you know, they're at it again, basically demanding this stuff be delivered immediately. So merchants have to get their operations to scale on day one, right? No matter what. There's no learning curve.

There's no grace period. I've seen buyers completely abandon brands over slow or error prone fulfillments or shipping or even just communication of that. Right. They could be doing everything right, but not telling that buyer what's going on. 

Lori Boyer 08:19 

So that is critical. 

Jeremy Bodenhamer 08:21 

Yep. That perfection and immediacy, that's, that's what I think is, is really changed in the expectation. 

Lori Boyer 08:27 

So what kind of adaptations are you seeing people make to be successful, to make sure they are ready, you know, for those kinds of expectations? What do, what does, maybe if we compared somebody who's not ready and somebody who is, what, what is the difference there?

Jeremy Bodenhamer 08:42 

Yeah, I mean, I think there's, there's two sides of it. One is the, the owner operated facility and one is the third party facility. Because some brands outsource, right? So within the, the, the outsourced facility, it's, it's easy. It's every order within SLA, right? There's fewer controls over there. So whatever can be controlled has to be. But within your own operation, I mean, the things that merchants are doing are, they're upgrading systems. 

Lori Boyer 09:09 

Okay. 

Jeremy Bodenhamer 09:09 

They're being more sensitive to connectivity, all the different systems they have to work with and keep synced with one another. They're running legacy systems in parallel during, during overlap periods.

So where before you'd say, hey, I've got a hard cutoff, you know, this contract ends, this new system has to be up on that day. They might run them at the same time for a period of time to make sure that if anything happens, they can still, you know adapt and, and, and get those orders out the door. And then the last one I would say, which is a big one that we're seeing and have been seen since, since COVID is they're consolidating partners.

You know, this, this whole rush of free capital for all this period led to all these point solutions on the market. And those, they sold, a lot of people bought those. But now these, these shippers are, are dealing with all these different partners, all these different dependencies, all these, these risk and failure points.

And they're like, wait a second. I want to pick up the phone, call one person, know I can trust them and know that they actually have control over the platform that's running. This operation, right? So they want one partner they can trust. And that's actually a big change from the way things have been, they have been done.

Lori Boyer 10:27 

Yeah, that's super fascinating. Okay, I want to touch back on a couple of these. You said some really, really great points. I don't want our community, our audience to miss out on this. So do you have any tips around, you talked about, you know, the ability of all the systems to connect and kind of talk with each other.

I have spoken with a lot of people who have shared challenges with integration and just the headache of the tech stack. Everybody knows they need it. They struggle. Do you have any tips? Do you have any suggestions on ways that they can try to make sure their systems are working? Just any knowledge or tips in that area?

Jeremy Bodenhamer 11:03 

Yeah, it's, it's, it's good and bad, right? Because it's, it's good because you get this technology, and it's bad because you're at the mercy of the quality of the partner. And you're at the risk or the mercy of the quality of your understanding of that technology and how it can be deployed, right? One of the, the examples that I like to share that's painful is we can take four or five different merchants all with a distribution center in the same geo, right?

You're, you're outside Salt Lake City, huge warehouses out there. They could all be, we can see them all. They could all be shipping the same product. Right? And they would all tell us that their workflow is the best, right? 

Lori Boyer 11:43 

Of course, of course. 

Jeremy Bodenhamer 11:44 

One of it is because grandpa did it that way. One of it's because this other platform's done it that way and they've worked with it for years. One of it's, it doesn't, it doesn't matter why. They're not actually looking at performance metrics. And I go back to, you know, one of the things I opened with. Nine out of 10 of the prospects our sales team talks to have zero operational metrics they're running their, their business by. 

Meaning I have a sales pipeline, I know what my sales target is for the quarter, but I don't know what my cost per order target is. I don't know what my throughput target is per shift, per day. Right. I don't know if I even have the ability to prioritize more expensive orders over cheaper orders. What if I get an order that's 10,000 bucks or 50,000 bucks, and I have another order that's worth 10 bucks. Which one gets processed first? 

Lori Boyer 12:31 

Do you have some specific KPIs there? So you mentioned cost per order, throughput. Well, are there some KPIs that you feel like those nine out of 10 businesses who are not doing any of that tracking that you recommend they should be doing? 

Jeremy Bodenhamer 12:44 

So I, in the back of the book, I actually have a whole appendix on these. And I think there's ties to this. Number one is more important than the metrics is starting with one metric. A lot of companies.

Lori Boyer 12:57

That is me, Jeremy. 

Jeremy Bodenhamer 12:58 

Yeah. And these leaders, they get overwhelmed and they're like, oh, we're not tracking anything. Well, now we have to track everything. No, don't track everything. Track one thing, right? Cost per order is a very good one.

Even if it's across multiple modes, whatever, it's a place to start. You can bifurcate and say, okay, this is my parcel cost per order, or this is my, you know, my cost per order for more expensive items. Or you can do that later. Another really good one is throughput by time period. So is that by shift? Is it by location, right?

Is it by a worker? Is it by day? Right. If you're running three shifts, I might want to know is shift a one, two or three have a better throughput. Like what is making that difference? Like where are those opportunities? Once I track one thing, I can drill in there and I can find out where there's more opportunities.

And then from there, I can say, now I'm also going to track this metric. We don't need to track a bunch of them out of the gate, but if you want a lot of them, I've got a whole appendix, like I said. 

Lori Boyer 13:59 

Perfect. I, I am always, always exactly on your side. Please start small. Please start with one. Please start with one or two. And then you see where, exactly as you said, there's opportunities, where maybe there are challenges, and you can expand from there. But, yeah, when you start with a billion, you end up doing none after about a week. So, I love that. 

Jeremy Bodenhamer 14:21 

This is important to say, too. It creates another systems problem. Because we don't think about that. But you need the system to get the data. And so it becomes another technology problem, right? And so if you're using a legacy platform or a technology that doesn't have really robust reporting or analytics components, then you're sitting there saying, well, now I got to go buy that. And the problem compounds.

Lori Boyer 14:43 

Okay. So let's go back then to those connections, those integrations. So let's say you do have some, some metrics that you're tracking or, you know. What, what do you, what is your recommendation? Should, are there limits to how many pieces of technology a company should get? I've heard of people having giant tech stacks and some people just really being small. What sort of, you know, pieces of advice do you have? 

Jeremy Bodenhamer 15:06 

Yeah, there's two things that I've seen, that I've seen work, because there's lots of problems in this arena. And companies spend so much money, and I see, you know, major ERP products, or projects, four or five-year projects, on the one-yard line, completely abandoned.

Just because it didn't actually get over it, right? 

Lori Boyer 15:24 

Yep. 

Jeremy Bodenhamer 15:25 

So I think there's two things that are the most important. Number one is who the partner is. Picking a good partner that can actually deliver, doing the due diligence to make sure they can deliver, and making sure they're well matched for that project.

Lori Boyer 15:41 

Okay, so I'm gonna hold up. So what is a good partner? to you. What does that look like? 

Jeremy Bodenhamer 15:46 

I mean, it's, it's a partner that delivers on their commitments. A, and it's a partner that has done that business before. So like, if you're using a third party integrator, you know, maybe they haven't done work in Shopify, then don't hire them to do a Shopify project, even if it's a component of yours.

Right. And this goes hand in hand with, with point number two, number one is pick the right partner. Number two is keep it simple. You know, it's, do I like it when we call prospects and they say, no, I bought too much software and can't integrate it right now. So call me back. Can you hear? No, I don't like it.

Is it good for their business to buy more software? No, it's not good for their business. It's not good for our business. It's all contingent on one another when these things have to work together, right? And so keep it simple. One thing at a time to, if you're doing an ERP project and you have to have inventory, okay, well I get, you need a WMS also, but then don't go add five other things.

Lori Boyer 16:37 

Yes. 

Jeremy Bodenhamer 16:37 

Just work on that. And even if you need, you know, new carriers added, like let's look in the EasyPost world, like you're not going to do that at the same time. You're going to go live with what's available, the best of what's there. And then that will be the next step. One step at a time and make sure that that gets over the finish line. Don't add until we know that we're getting an ROI on that investment. 

Lori Boyer 16:59 

Absolutely. So I love that. How in it, in addition to just an overall philosophy of start where you're at, start small, choose a few metrics. It's just the same in choosing your partners and your technology. Keeping it simple. I love that kind of idea.

Can you tell me maybe some of the challenges people face as they are trying to adapt and be flexible? Some of the, you know, I don't know if you have any examples or, or stories, but what works, what doesn't work? 

Jeremy Bodenhamer 17:30 

Well, going back to one of the takeaways I gave you in the theme takeaways with these warehouse workers. Right. And the fact that it's going to continue to be a hard problem to solve. Right. I, I'm sure, I don't know, Lori, if you saw this, many people saw back in 2022 there was a memo leaked from Amazon where Amazon was predicting internally that they would fully exhaust the supply of US warehouse workers by this year, 2024.

Lori Boyer 17:59 

Wow. 

Jeremy Bodenhamer 17:59 

Right. So I don't know where we stand on that scale because I'm not aware of another leak. Right. 

Lori Boyer 18:04 

Yeah, right. 

Jeremy Bodenhamer 18:06 

But I do know that we hear from customers every day how hard it is not just to find, but to hire and train workers. So these companies need to think about training and more importantly, repurposing the people they have, right?

How do we make training easier? How do we make sure they can fill roles in multiple areas of the business so that as seasonality happens, as needs shift, I can pull people and move them around. And this goes back to the technology problem, right? If I'm using dated, very difficult to use, expensive to operate, expensive to train, laborious products, software, hardware, whatever it is.

I'm compounding my labor problem. And a lot of the companies we talked to, they're going in there saying, well, look, I'm negotiating this shipment down to the penny. I'm negotiating, negotiating this software contract down to the dollar. But I'm spending 300 percent more in labor than I should be spending, and I'm not investing in those workers and making sure I'm actually get, having any sort of productivity targets for every single one of these workers. And I'm not buying systems that help me monitor that. So we really got to think, where are those dollars actually going? They're going in payroll. 

Lori Boyer 19:20 

Yeah, they really are. So as we talk about kind of the labor challenge, you know, are there things that you've seen that work really well in terms of training, in terms of, I loved your idea of cross training and, and making sure people have a robust awareness. But finding, hiring, training, what have you seen trends or what's working? What's not working? 

Jeremy Bodenhamer 19:43 

I mean, as a, as a software builder and, and, and vendor, we are focused on building the tools so that they are easy to use, easy to understand, and can be used for a variety of different use cases, right? You can think simple of, you know, the difference in a workflow of fulfilling a parcel order, versus a less than truckload order, versus a truckload order, right?

There's a lot different requirements to building up a pallet versus just packing a single box, let alone the labeling requirements and adding HAZMAT and all these other things that could come into play, right? So how many of those decisions are we allowing the workers to make right? And if we start small, let's say, Lori, you and I, we go start a business in our garage right. Before my wife yells at us and kicks us out. 

Going in there, what do we want? We want a button for everything. Why? Because we don't have many orders. We want to be in control. 

Lori Boyer 20:36 

Yep. 

Jeremy Bodenhamer 20:37 

Right. We want a button for everything. But as our warehouse gets big, and we start processing thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of orders. If we have a button for everything, it's costing us a fortune.

Not only is it expensive for those warehouse workers to click those buttons, they have to make a decision every time they're clicking a button. So the way we approach it is, how do we have the system automate the process? How do we have the system making the decisions about what should and shouldn't be done?

So we can reduce the workflow. You can take someone in a different department, give them a scan gun. They can fulfill orders because it's just scan, scan, scan, move the item down. They're never punching in anything. 

They don't make decisions. We're rewriting all along the way. Just because, you know, when the product was purchased in the cart, we found a great product or a great, you know, warehouse on a specific lane and calculated a price doesn't mean that by the time that that order is fulfilled 24 hours later, that that is still the best way to ship that order.

Right? We might have encountered an inventory problem in the warehouse. It might have gone to a different facility and we reroute it. Right? So the system is making those decisions. We're not relying on the people. And so the more we leverage the systems for those and that information, that data, the better the end result to lower the labor cost scale. The better the performance too, because you don't have errors. 

Lori Boyer 22:00 

Yeah. And I, that is so critical, Jeremy, because, you know, the complexity, as you mentioned, as we scale, when we're small, it's easy to control everything, but the complexity of this industry is beyond mind blowing. You know, where, as you mentioned, we're talking in seconds. We're talking in every little bit matters.

We're talking in pennies, we're talking. And so it's really not possible without the technology, right. Without the ability to use technology to automate and to make sure that we're able to reduce the load on our people as much as possible. So cross training, you mentioned, I'm guessing hiring and whatnot, if we have the right systems in place, we make the job more enjoyable. Easier on them. Any other tips around that kind of labor point that you have? 

Jeremy Bodenhamer 22:55 

No, I mean, there I think that the more we invest in training those people, the more they can do, the more valuable they are on the business. And the better we understand our actual labor costs versus our other costs, the better our decisions across all categories of expenses will be.

Lori Boyer 23:10 

Yeah, that makes sense. So you mentioned your second takeaway earlier was about manual operations and how that doesn't scale. So are there certain things that you see frequently that people are doing manually. That really they should be automating and haven't been. What can you expand on that? 

Jeremy Bodenhamer 23:29 

It's across the board. I mean, it's everything from processes cycle counting to put away and where inventory is located to selecting shipping carriers to selecting boxes. Like which box do I put this thing in? Is the system telling me what box or am I picking the box?

Right? I mean, the, it, it is crazy how many decisions are made by humans along the path. It's also crazy how many decisions systems make, but we don't give an apples to apples comparison and understand the impact. So for example, I'm using a legacy micro business shipping solution that has a ton of buttons that I loved when I was little. And it's given me a label in a, in a certain amount of milliseconds.

And then I go and I upgrade and I say, hey, I need to, I need to scale my business. Right. I need some more heavy, heavy hitting software that can automate these things. One of my requirements is that I want it to, to call and rate a bunch of carriers. Well, I want that. Do I want that at API in real time?

Like, or do I have rate tables for that? How is that happening? Well, I'm going to do it in real time with API because, cause of my contracts. I want it updated. Well, that takes three seconds. Well, now I'm mad because I've got three seconds, but I'm calling a hundred carriers. Do I really even understand why I'm calling a hundred carriers?

My guess is we're not even shipping with 90 of those, right? Like, and so we're not actually comparing apples and apples across the board. And as you mentioned earlier, the complexity is, is terrible. It's, it's crazy how complex it gets. But we need to understand who is doing what job. And and who can be the people and who can be the system and then we need to understand what job needs to be done and then how are we measuring it?

And if we don't have all three of those, the decision across the way is going to be wrong, right? Somewhere it's going to be wrong because even if you buy the software, you're not going to get the result you want. Because you're not having standard measurements across where success is defined. 

Lori Boyer 25:25 

Yes. 

Jeremy Bodenhamer 25:26 

Right?

Lori Boyer 25:26 

So, I love that. I just wanted to recap on that. So, go out, maybe get some boots on the ground in your warehouse, if you haven't been, as somebody said to me once, out of the ivory tower for a while. Get in the warehouse. Figure out which things should be assigned to people, which should be assigned to technology in terms of decisions as well. And then make sure that you are measuring both, correct? Both the people and the tech. 

Jeremy Bodenhamer 25:56 

Yes, success has to be defined, and it's funny that you brought that up on getting out of the ivory tower.

Lori Boyer 26:02 

Mm hmm. 

Jeremy Bodenhamer 26:02 

You know, one of the notes I have for, for takeaways for later on in our conversation here is that the business leaders need to spend time with the warehouse workers in the warehouse. I have, there's a CFO, the customer of ours who I love, and she does, she does an annual race, a fulfillment race against her operations leader to be able to fulfill orders the best. And she can do that because she knows what's going on in the warehouse. She understands the systems. Last Christmas I went to a huge retailer, you know the name of it, big big company.

Lori Boyer 26:38 

Okay. 

Jeremy Bodenhamer 26:38 

And I bought my wife like three items on this from this retailer. I don't know what happened in their warehouse, but I had like seven customer service calls. They had shipped me stuff, returned it. Some of the things they shipped had to be overnighted. They spent more money trying to get me these three items than they will ever make from me as a customer.

I mean, they lost money hand over fist, but the whole time I couldn't help but thinking, all these customer service people I'm talking to, there's someone in a warehouse somewhere standing in front of a shelf, standing in front of a bin who knows there's a problem. 

Lori Boyer 27:12 

Yes. 

Jeremy Bodenhamer 27:13 

There is no mechanism for them to say, there's a problem. We should probably solve this problem, not just for this order, but permanently. And so they're gushing cash on it because no one's talking to that person picking, doing the picking. No one's going in there and saying, hey, when you encounter these things, here's an easy way to get us that information back so we can keep the systems improving. Right. 

Lori Boyer 27:36 

Absolutely. I completely agree. There are people who know things going on and we're not going to know all of the challenges, where we're having manual processes we shouldn't, where there are holes that we need to plug, unless we are actively looking. And as you mentioned, metrics, you know, reporting, measuring, making sure we're actually improving.

And again, I love how you say start small, keep it simple. Because sometimes people think that and they get super overwhelmed. Right. And they get what I call analysis paralysis. There's too much data coming at them. I've got 27 systems. How do I know which, which things I'm tracking? I've got 200 employees. How do, so I guess, do you have any tips when it comes to analysis paralysis or data overload, fatigue? What, what can people do? 

Jeremy Bodenhamer 28:26 

Yeah, I mean, on that, I just go back to to my previous comment of start with one metric. Just start with one, make sure the new systems that are purchased or implemented can support that one. And if it can't, or you're not buying something new, look at what your current systems can support. What's the path of least resistance to start measuring something, right? And use that to figure out what success looks like, what, what your target should be. And you can add metrics on that vein before you go somewhere else. Right. 

Lori Boyer 29:00 

I love it. So keep it simple. Start small. Do you have any recommendations when it comes to like frequency? How often you should be checking your metrics? 

Jeremy Bodenhamer 29:09

It, it, I mean, the, unfortunately, that's a system limitation, right? Most like I could give you what I think. But you know, anyone listening to this, the chances of them having the same systems with the same capabilities are zero. Some of their systems are going to have no metrics at all. Like there's systems that I see people still buying that literally have no data component to it whatsoever. Right. 

Lori Boyer 29:35 

Okay. Another great piece. I'm jumping in because we were talking about the things you should look for in your technology. That's another one. It's got to have data. Got to have reporting somehow. 

Jeremy Bodenhamer 29:44 

Yes, it has to. And it's fine if it even comes in an email. It doesn't even have to be within the system, but it has to have some way to extract that data. Hopefully, hopefully, without the shipper having to go hire an analyst, to extract and model and present. Like have it to be digestible somehow, right?

Lori Boyer 30:03 

But let's talk technology then. What are kind of the key technological elements you feel like are necessary to make sure we're automating, to make sure that we are able to be flexible and adaptable? You know what, what innovations have we seen that in technology that are really critical. Do you feel like?

Jeremy Bodenhamer 30:22 

Yeah, so I want to go back to your comment on complexity, right? Back in, I think it was 2018 is the, is the peak, the highest number I've seen here. In 2018, there were, the average distribution center was housing I think it was 18,000 SKUs. 

Lori Boyer 30:38 

Okay. 

Jeremy Bodenhamer 30:39 

And only half of those items at the time could be handled robotically. And it's not a whole lot more than that today.

Lori Boyer 30:46 

Okay. 

Jeremy Bodenhamer 30:46 

So nobody's gonna, nobody can come out and say, oh, it's robots. It's robots. It's robots. No. Some of those items may never be able to handle, be handled robotically. And one of the challenges and reasons for that is inventories are always changing. So once I trained the robot to handle one item, well, now that that style changed. It's it's it's material changed. It's packaging changed, right? There's this ongoing curve. So from a technological perspective, we have to bucket the hardware separate from the software or the hardware separate from the people, right? They have to be in two buckets. And I want to use an example of a product that we recently launched.

It's in this category. There's a handheld computer vision scanner. It looks just like a, a zebra scanner, right? Or they, the, you know, the, the warehouse worker can use it to, it's a mobile device, right? They can use it to scan barcodes, whatever, but this will actually scan and instantly import the dimensions of the item into the ERP.

If you attach a scale to it or it's on a conveyor, it can do weights and dimensions. So when you're getting new inventory, instead of the people having to go and manually measure all these things, they can just scan, scan. Right? It's like items are coming down the line. They don't want to measure before the it goes in a box.

They can just scan, like it's the simple things that can have outside impact. And the solution here is not just the scanner. It's the software that lets the scanner import that data into whatever system they're using, so it's good, not just that one time, but into the future. So we got to think about the technology, not as a one time use, but is in terms of setting up scalable systems where we can continue to get predictable, measurable results into the future. Right? 

Lori Boyer 32:31 

Absolutely. 

Jeremy Bodenhamer 32:31 

Scanners are in this this example. It's not expensive. I'm not having to go hire third-party integrators and set up these whole huge programs to run them, right. I can buy one scanner. Right. I could buy two scanners. And they're handheld. These aren't big devices like we've seen in, in distribution centers over the years. 

Lori Boyer 32:50

So I think that brings up a really great point to me is, you know, how do we even find out about what options are out there? That kind of brings me to the idea of strategic partnerships and kind of creating this robust infrastructure, ecosystem, or however we want to describe it, of people. I have found that our industry is super, ironically, in a way, because we are so automated in technology, we're super relationship-driven as well.

I'd love to get your take a little bit on strategic partnerships. You know, how do we develop these relationships? What are your suggestions? I know that you are really great at this, so I would love for you to share. 

Jeremy Bodenhamer 33:30 

Yeah, it's one of ShipHawk's biggest strengths is the strength of our integrations which is something it's, it's one of those things that nobody really recognizes is a strength. It's just a table stakes. You need it just to show up, to play the game. The quantity of partners technology providers in today's world have to have in order to produce an end result that has value is mind blowing. I mean, we can look at EasyPost as an example, even instead of ShipHawk and look at how many carriers, EasyPost has to maintain connections with. And the depth of those integrations.

It's not just, you know, a tracking API, right? They have to be able to produce documentation. They have to be able to produce rating. They have to like, there's every component of this across a myriad of different pricing matrices or however each carrier prices, which is all different than one another.

Lori Boyer 34:27 

Yep. 

Jeremy Bodenhamer 34:30 

So some of these integrations with us, which at ShipHawk come with commercial partnerships, some don't, the companies that are out there that think they can do it all themselves are A, they're not gonna be around long term, but B they're not going to provide. An actual market solution that is competitive.

That's driving value to the customer. So in order for these partnerships to really drive value, they have to have the human component. They have to have the technology component, right? 

Lori Boyer 34:59 

Yeah. 

Jeremy Bodenhamer 35:00 

Everybody has to be working together on this end result. We can't just be like, oh, FedEx doesn't exist. I'm not going to integrate with them today.

Lori Boyer 35:06 

Right, right. 

Jeremy Bodenhamer 35:07 

You're just going to get UPS rates. Like everybody loses in that scenario. So I don't think there's as much as any sort of secret there as much as it's just, it's like, you know, the, the poker chips. You just can't play the game if you don't show up with the chips. 

Lori Boyer 35:21 

Yeah. So I love that. And I love kind of the idea. What I'm hearing from you is the idea of sort of leveraging the, the relationships and partnerships that, you know, there's lots of companies out there, ShipHawk, EasyPost and tons of others, maybe consultants you're working with and other software, they have relationships and being able to exponentially grow your network by just adding one person.

Or, you know, if you are working with ShipHawk, now suddenly you have access to all of those relationships that they have access to. So I just, that is such a great idea. Okay. Anything else that you have around partnerships, relationships, anything that you want to share or examples? 

Jeremy Bodenhamer 36:05 

It's, it's just that nobody can do it themselves, right? That's, that's the key. I think there's a lot, there's a lot. Because the relationship, it's not just the tech platform. It's the service provider too, right? It's a third-party integrator. It's the ecommerce platform. It's the ERP, it's the WMS, it's the shipping software. It's the EasyPost that has connections to all the carriers.

It's, and they have to work together. And getting, you know, there's a lot of companies that their, their perspective is not that. Right? It's more protective. It's more isolationist. It's more like, these are my customers. And, and we live in a world where we all have to work together. And then there have to be systems that are actually making decisions about where the right system, right partner comes into play. And that's one, that's where ShipHawk really comes into play to a large degree, as we add that layer of, of, of rational thinking in the system to be able to say, hey, now you should be using this partner. And even in, to some degrees, hey, you don't even know about this partner that you're not using that you should be using.

Lori Boyer 37:10 

Right, right, absolutely. Okay, before we go, we're almost out of time, but I do want to know if you see any trends coming in the future. Any, you know, Jeremy predictions out there or thoughts of, you know, where the industry is headed. 

Jeremy Bodenhamer 37:25 

100 percent. And things, a lot of these are things that we've already talked about, but they're important. Businesses need to scale operations faster, meaning immediately. Today. From day one. That's number one. Number two, perfection is the standard. Buyers do not any longer tolerate errors. They don't care why. Shipping can't be marketed as only a service. It needs to be part of the business model part, and it needs to be communicated that way, right? Whether, whether a brand owns their entire supply chain, whether they leverage slow shipping because it's more efficient and it's good for the earth. 

And that's what their customers care about. Like there's a million different examples of this, but bottom line is the communication of the customer has to be upfront before the order. This is what we stand for. This is who we are. Has to include that, right? Shippers are consolidating relationships with those they trust. I think this is gonna continue to happen for good or for bad. They don't want that many dependencies and points of failure. Hiring workers are gonna, is gonna continue to be difficult and expensive, and we have to plan for that.

And then the last one, which we spend a lot of time on, is the data accuracy and those partner connections are both gonna be key to not only the ability to measure success, but the actual performance of the warehouse. And we have to account for both. We can't be bringing in partners or bringing in new solutions that don't let us measure success, define success, and improve on that operation. Because what we buy today is not going to meet the needs of tomorrow. We have to have partners that are going to continue help our business evolve and not stagnate. 

Lori Boyer 39:08 

Well said, very well said, Jeremy. So thank you so much for being here. If our community wants to reach out, connect with you, learn more are you on LinkedIn? What is the best way for them to, connect with you? 

Jeremy Bodenhamer 39:23 

Absolutely. I'm on LinkedIn. Best way is through our website though, at shiphawk.com, like the boat and the bird. 

Lori Boyer 39:29 

Great. Perfect. I know it's a really cool name. I had a friend who said that, ShipHawk is such a cool name. So awesome. It was so great having you here. I feel really inspired and I again, everyone listening, remember, Jeremy had a billion great ideas, but start small. Pick one or two, implement those, move on to the next step, implement, and that's really how we scale and grow and hopefully at some point reach that perfection that, that consumers want from us. Right? So thank you again for being here. Any final goodbye from you, Jeremy? 

Jeremy Bodenhamer 40:04 

Nope. Thank you, Lori, for having me. It's been great talking about this with you. 

Lori Boyer 40:08 

Awesome. And we'll see you all next time.