Ralph Lauren Case Study

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The Challenge

New York City-based manufacturer and retailer Ralph Lauren creates luxury apparel that is both classy and highly sought-after. But its international air freight transportation was anything but. The company didn’t have a way to route shipments according to the best available options for service and rates, and this resulted in inflated shipping costs.

“Airfreight shipments were delayed at origin, with limited real-time visibility. We had no visibility to airfreight shipments until they were already in the air – and typically not until 24 hours after departure. All we could do was inform the customer that we were experiencing delays.”
– Kathleen King, Senior Director, International Transport, Ralph Lauren

The Fix

The Ralph Lauren Corporation turned to Acuitive Solutions to create an around-the-clock inbound vendor routing portal for international air freight. This one-of-a-kind transportation management solution now functions as an electronic planning, execution and control hub, where shipments are dynamically routed based on the needs of the shipment, providing much-needed relief from a traditional, laborious, paper-based routing process.

The companies worked together to solve issues that included split lanes resulting in misaligned volume, capacity constraints, and confusion among vendors about the most current compliance terms. All of this was clogging up operations at this high-profile manufacturer with nearly $5 billion in annual revenue.

A three-phase, on-boarding process was implemented to ensure a smooth transition to the new portal for the more than 400 Ralph Lauren vendors, representing a retail supply chain community with diverse needs and capabilities. This process included providing the project team with early feedback, so they could make improvements and revisions, and train employees.

When the portal went live, Ralph Lauren achieved and surpassed its original goals, with benefits that included:

  • Reduced manual data entry and increased shipment control
  • Improved access to required data, and shorter payment processing time for Ralph Lauren’s partners
  • Improved visibility of shipments, from an average of 3-5 days to 10 days
  • Improved accuracy of volume projections and capacity planning
  • Reduction in the variation of costs for international air freight
  • Increased speed and precision of rate analysis and shopping
  • Reduced shipment costs; typically 25-50% off contract pricing, achieved through use of Acuitive’s SpotManager tool, and by tendering shipments on days with excess carrier capacity

"Prior to this innovation, there was no way for a shipper to dynamically align the expedited service level being utilized with the needs of the merchandise," said Phil Marlowe, President and Chief Logistician for Acuitive Solutions.

"It used to be an on/off switch — ocean or air.

Now shippers can expand the breadth of services they want to consider and save money by turning the dial to the appropriate level of service, shipment by shipment.”

In the end, Ralph Lauren and Acuitive weren’t the only ones pleased with the results. Apparel Magazine recognized the two as “Top Innovators for 2012.” It’s an ending that’s much sought-after... and classy.