We recently caught up with AWESOME Advisor and Nike Chief Operations Planning Officer Amy White to learn about the innovative ways the Nike team is driving supply chain transformation for the most iconic and beloved sport and lifestyle brand in the world. Amy recently celebrated 25 years with Nike, where she has led many teams across supply chain, general management, product merchandising and finance. She currently leads the Nike Global Demand and Supply Management team, a cross-functional group consisting of merchandise planning, retail planning and allocations, inventory management and supply planning, as well as Nike’s Commercial and Supply Chain Analytics team.
AWESOME: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us! Congratulations on your 25th anniversary at Nike. We understand that despite the challenging dynamics, Nike has been accelerating throughout this global pandemic by transforming its supply chain. Can you share with us a few of Nike’s supply chain innovations?
WHITE: Absolutely. From the beginning of the global pandemic, we knew we needed a “create the future” strategy. When our consumers shifted to digital engagement in mid-2020, Nike accelerated our focus on creating a digital-first supply chain to serve consumers more directly and power long-term growth.
Three key areas of innovation include:
- We are building a multi-node regional distribution network supported by advanced demand-sensing and inventory optimization platforms. Within our distribution centers, we are using around 1,000 collaborative robots to help our teammates sort, pack, and move products – which drives quicker order processing and alleviates physical challenges.
- We are also leveraging AI and machine learning to forward-position the products our consumers love most and get these products to them faster with services like Buy Online, Pick Up in Store (BOPIS) and Ship to Store.
- We have developed a one-of-a-kind scalable platform for end-to-end integrated planning, connecting dynamic demand signals to drive responsive supply actions. On this platform, we utilize predictive analytics and AI to create automated demand forecasts, so we can ensure we have the right amount of product at the right place at the right time. It is also enabling a higher degree of forecast accuracy despite the unpredictability of ongoing COVID-related disruptions.
AWESOME: That sounds impressive. With all of the challenges the supply chain industry is experiencing, and the world more broadly, what are some recent professional highlights of yours?
WHITE: I am very proud of the dedication of my team during these dynamic times. This past holiday season, they pulled out all the stops to maximize our inventory to serve consumers. We know through our predictive analytics, that our classic Nike Air Force 1s were on many a holiday wish list! Given industry-wide supply constraints, we doubled down on the use of analytics to both optimize our inventory and increase capacity to serve consumer demand. I am so thankful for the resilience and creativity of my teammates at Nike and how we have come together to create the future now.
A second highlight is from the Gartner Supply Chain Symposium/Xpo™ last October, where I was asked to present on Nike’s digital transformation and how we have leveraged a connected planning platform to power a more flexible and responsive supply chain. I shared how we are building one-to-one consumer relationships through our membership programs, digital platforms and physical retail to shape their Nike member journey, even as their preferences and needs evolve. This relationship journey enables us to respond, predict and shape consumer demand.
AWESOME: Last, but certainly not least, what makes you most excited about the future of supply chain?
WHITE: At Nike, our mission is to provide inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. I am excited to see how our teams live that mission in how we solve complex problems at scale. They look at what used to be “impossible” and make it possible. Of course, we never could have predicted where we are today – but due to this challenging period, as an industry, the role of supply chain has never been more strategic and more important, and we are rising to the occasion by innovating faster than ever.
At Nike, we are putting the consumer at the center of our supply chain and creating a more connected and personalized marketplace based on real-time insights. These innovations are powering Nike’s growth and our brand continues to remain strong. I am confident that our supply chain will continue to be a strategic advantage for our brand and excited by the opportunities still ahead of us to innovate and inspire our consumers.
* If you have a body, you are an athlete.