How National Retail Systems sets trends in the supply chain game.
The “Amazon Effect” is real. For the last five or ten years, companies have had to race just to keep up with the online giant’s model. While some have fallen off, others have been able to keep their foothold. But John Tabor, Senior Vice President of National Retail Systems’ supply chain, wants you to know retail isn’t dead.
“Far from it,” he said in a chat with BOSS Magazine. “Some studies state that 90 percent of purchases are still in stores.”
As the way consumers can buy has shifted so, too, has the back end of retail. We love that companies like Amazon and Walmart offer same- or next-day delivery. How have brick-and-mortar retailers’ supply chains evolved to keep up?
“In the past, National Retail Systems would take a truck with a 53-foot trailer to a big-box store and drop it off,” Tabor said. “The staff at the store would unpack the product into the stockroom. The driver would return the next day with another 53 feet of product, drop that off, and take the empty trailer back.”
And while there are some big box stores left, many have been replaced by smaller footprint stores, which have very different needs.
“Now you have two, three, and four stop deliveries with one trailer of product. It has to be unloaded live—with the driver waiting—which extends the time of delivery. This delivery format limits the number of stores a single driver can get to in a day.”
With driver shortages increasing and the electronic logging device mandate in place, some retailers have resorted to giving their product to anyone who promises on-time delivery.
National Retail Systems was ahead of the curve as they began to implement the use of ELD’s years ago in addition to the paper logs the drivers used to produce. As a result, when the mandate took effect, its drivers were already trained.
That allowed NRS to offer a fast, flexible, and nimble experience to keep up with its customers’ needs and pre-empt any challenges. The organization was also fortunate to have partnered with clients who also realize the importance of safety in the industry and on the roads.
Current ownership’s grandfather founded the 3PL company in the 60s. The small business had one truck that had routes in the garment district of New York City. Drivers would run fabric to warehouses in New Jersey where it would be tailored into product for store shelves.
“Leadership quickly realized that they were masters in the NY market. They knew the height restrictions on different tunnels, parking and the times when parking was allowed.”
While other trucking companies struggled, National Retail Systems allowed this knowledge to proliferate into quick expansion. Today, the company owns over 600 trucks and 5,000 trailers around the country.
The family run company has several trucking divisions. Keystone Freight Corp, while once a line haul division servicing domestic consolidation, is today more of a dedicated fleet and run-in service for our clients’ distribution centers and store networks across the nation. KFC provides dedicated fleets for some of the nation’s top retailers and consumer goods manufacturers.
National Retail Transportation services local pickup and delivery, domestic consolidation, and store deliveries for customers for clients who don’t presently utilize dedicated fleets. Under the NRT umbrella is National Retail Consolidators, which handles the management of over 3.5 million square feet of its warehouses and transload facilities.
World Logistics, their Brokerage division supports our carriers and client needs during times of peak capacity and also supports their clients in acquiring backhauls as a source of revenue and to diminish dead head miles, further contributing to cost cutting their expenses.
“Because our business is retail based, many customers have the same peak period. With the bulk of volume coming from August to December, we have to go out to partner carriers and others in our network to help secure capacity.”
Supply Chain Solutions
Yes, the retail market can be volatile, but National Retail Systems has it down to a science. Tabor shared that the company has always employed GPS devices in its trucks and trailers, making it easy to track and give up to date expectations for delivery.
National Retail Systems is also building a unique end-to-end supply chain solution for risk management.
“We’ve always specialized in high security,” Tabor shared. “These tracking devices offer solid technological support that allows NRS and their customers complete visibility to any number of issues that could upset a supply chain and make immediate plans to mitigate the situation.”
Weather delays, regional news updates, crime analytics for cargo theft, and port disruption and traffic news are all layered in with the company’s GPS technology to help customers build a high-end, secure supply chain.
These technological advances complement National Retail Systems’ temperature-controlled trailer options, attracting the attention of pharma companies upstream from its typical customer base.
“Pharmaceutical companies are having trouble finding carriers that meet the federal mandate for transporting their products,” Tabor said. “We offer this service. We monitor the temperature inside the trailers according to new federal regulations. We’ll be combining our temperature data with our GPS and security data to help our customers create an even more robust supply chain.”
It’s a niche market that could provide a small area of stability in a sea of occasional retail volatility.
“Pharma is a big one for us. We feel the pharmaceutical sector will be a strong focus within our business plans going forward.”
A Flexible Company Culture
It takes the right kind of employee and the right kind of company culture to be able to support the retail industry and to look towards new trends. National Retail Systems encourages a culture that is fast, flexible, and nimble, and hires employees that fit that mold.
“Our customers want goods to market fast, and the supply chain is ever changing. One customer today might be importing into Savannah, but due to a change in shipping rates or capacity may switch to New York. We’re flexible and have established locations to get where our customers need to go.”
Tabor also discussed the importance of transparency and nimbleness.
“Our team knows that when they work with a customer, they can get things done. There can’t be layers of bureaucracy getting in the way of efficient supply chains.”
With decades of experience each, the senior leadership team is integral to the company’s success.
“It’s dynamic, we all bring different resources to the table,” Tabor said.
Tabor came up in the industry through loss prevention. Another senior leader specialized in import, while others worked in less than load (LTL) networks or for retailers.
“Every customer is a different size and shape, so we need to morph into whatever they need from a service provider. We don’t service any two exactly the same. Our different backgrounds tend to help us provide a quick solution.” We collaborate with each customer to integrate our skills into either their current logistics platform or design and offer an alternative strategy to meet their individual needs.
And the company’s customer support mirrors the support of its employee base. With a family culture, and investments into technology like driver cameras, National Retail Systems has provided a safe work environment where employees know the company is on their side.
“This company has no layers to peel away when a customer or an employee needs support. Our CEO trusts the decisions made that trickles down to the rest of the staff. We believe that’s unparalleled.”
National Retail Systems, Inc. is an asset-based 3PL provider founded in 1952. We’re a privately held 4th generation family company headquarter in North Bergen, New Jersey providing customized solutions to businesses and retailers around the country. We focus on crafting a personalized logistics plan so we can implement and execute all available resources to reach your goals.