Retail Executive

NOV/DEC 2017

Retail Executive is the trusted advisor to top retail executives from the industry’s most profitable retailers. We help retail executives succeed in their job role and grow their business via exclusive, actionable, peer-driven content.

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 15 of 47

team envision the goal first and craft the processes sec- ond. "Our working backward documents act as actual press releases — we literally write the title as it should appear in a newspaper of record," she states. "In a one- page document, we explain the product and how it ben- efits customers, including how it's going to make their lives easier or better. We craft the document section by section, word for word; we are responsible for writing it. Writing this document drives a level of clarity that other traditional tools such as PowerPoint can mask." DePree states that writing the narrative forces her team to clearly articulate the product's purpose. "We view I N S I D E D E P R E E 'S L E A D E R S H I P P R I N C I P L E S & M E T H O D O L O G I E S Jeff Bezos is known for implementing his "Flywheel" philosophy as the company's major tenet. The Fly- wheel philosophy is a cycle in which a company cuts prices to attract customers, which increases sales and attracts more customers, which allows the company to benefit from economies of scale, until, ultimately, the company can cut prices again. Undoubtedly, there are several principles and methodologies Amazon's leaders practice and preach to fuel the Flywheel philosophy. Everyone assumes there are special tips or tricks to Amazon's magic formula. It probably sounds sophomoric, but here's the secret — we are completely customer-obsessed. Alexis DePree, VP Global Supply Chain, Customer Fulfillment, Amazon "Everyone assumes there are special tips or tricks to Amazon's magic formula," explains DePree. "It proba- bly sounds sophomoric, but here's the secret — we are completely customer-obsessed. And, it's our customer obsession combined with rock solid leadership princi- ples and methodologies, such as pizza teams and work- ing backward documents, for example, that help us find new ways to innovate." DePree explains that a pizza team is one such method- ology. When she and her team are working on something innovative on which they need to move quickly — when they're being intentionally scrappy — they have no more people in the room than she can feed with two pizzas. "Here's what I love about the pizza team methodology: Based on my background as an industrial engineer, and how I prefer to work in general, I have to think very hard about the skillsets I need around that table to solve the problem," she explains. "I have to prioritize who gets each slice. Who's taking the slice on driving the analytics? Who's taking the inventory planning slice? Who has the outbound shipping knowledge I need in that room? It forces me and my teams to become crys- tal clear about what we're trying to achieve so that we invite the right individuals who can help us solve the problem at hand, and those invites are not issued on a customary basis — they're issued intentionally." That brings us to one of DePree's constructive princi- ples, the working backward document, which helps her every word as if it has a price tag on it, and we spend our words wisely." DePree meets with her team on a quarterly basis to discuss the new press releases under development. "We bring together our most critical internal operational partners so they can hear some of our ideas firsthand. The operational partners share their questions with us to help the retail team make the press releases even stronger before they can receive full signoff to move for- ward with the project." P R A C T I C A L M E T H O D O L O G I E S F O R S U P P LY C H A I N V E N D O R S It's no secret that Amazon operates an endlessly complex logistics empire, as it promises two-day free shipping for all Prime customers and free two-hour Prime Now de- livery in certain cities on tens of thousands of items. De- Pree explains that her team spends a great deal of time on the metrics needed to identify and understand what's happening in Amazon's upstream supply chain. By "up- stream," she means the activities that occur prior to items being received at an Amazon facility, which typically in- cludes the activities undertaken by the vendors that are necessary to get product into the supply chain. Therefore, she employs the same leadership princi- ples and methodologies when collaborating with sup- RETAILEXECUTIVE.COM NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017 14 EXCLUSIVE RETAIL FEATURE Executive By E. Harris LEADING AT AMAZON

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Retail Executive - NOV/DEC 2017