With a focus on analysis, supported by meditation, Tarun Methwani is finding himself perfectly suited for fashioning the supply chain network at leading men’s apparel retailer The Men’s Wearhouse Inc.
At a time when the company is integrating newly acquired Jos. A. Bank and implementing a series of (dare-he-say “seamless”) omnichannel strategies, Methwani is bringing an impressive education and several years of ocean carrier experience – as well as some time-honored traits for success from his native India – to his role as director of analysis and logistics support at The Men’s Wearhouse.
In fact, one might say Methwani is gonna like the way logistics look at The Men’s Wearhouse that he can guarantee it, along with the logistics team.
In an interview with the American Journal of Transportation, Methwani, speaking from his office in Houston, shares insights into men’s apparel logistics and suggests four key attributes from India that Americans might smartly apply to their professional and personal lives.
How is The Men’s Wearhouse meeting supply chain challenges associated with your company’s $1.8 billion acquisition of Jos. A. Bank? We understand that supply chain function plays a critical role in ensuring the success of any union of two or more companies. Our company has invested meaningful resources to strategically analyze both companies’ network and identified the most advanced technologies available to design a next-generation supply chain network which will ensure delivery of world-class service to our customers.
By the way, did you know that our suits speak? They speak our vision of providing the world-class service to our customers and each other. We are one of the very few retailers in the country who still moves tailored product on hanger from end-to-end, supplier to customer, so it’s delivered to customer without even a minute wrinkle.
We will leverage our in-house-developed last-mile network to deliver the product to our newly acquired company, Jos. A. Bank.
Our company has used best-in-class processes to significantly reduce labor and inventory costs, improve inventory accuracy and visibility for our network, more efficiently use temporary workers and increase on-time performance and delivery.
We integrated lean supply chain practices to significantly improve warehouse operations across multiple divisions and facilities under a single platform. As a result, The Men’s Wearhouse successfully integrated multichannel processes under one division.
What roles are omnichannel strategies playing in The Men’s Wearhouse logistics?
In this digital era where customers are progressively shopping online through computers and their smartphones, retailers across the industry are looking to ramp up their investments in e-commerce and omnichannel retailing.
The Men’s Wearhouse, being the leading men’s apparel retailer, has implemented several omnichannel strategies to offer not only seamless but also evocative experience to our customers.
We have integrated our vast store network with the promising online channel in order to leverage buyers’ online shopping interest to increase sales. And, since implementation, we have seen noticeable improvements in the e-commerce sales and better customer experience.
It requires significant expense to offer the omnichannel experience to our customers. However, it is the right thing to do in this modern era. Omnichannel is not a want but a need for retailers to survive in the 21st century.
Ongoing innovation at The Men’s Wearhouse had led to the launch of its omnichannel inventory program in 2014, which gives customers visibility and access to all merchandise within the company’s distribution center and all the more than 900 retail locations from one location.
Now, regardless of whether a customer is shopping in a store or online, they can see all merchandise available to them throughout the company and pick up any item at the store of their choosing.
Online customers now also have the option of shopping nearby stores’ inventory, as well as the company’s distribution center to expand the merchandise choices available to them from menswearhouse.com.
If they find an item that they like at a nearby store location, they can reserve it online and pick it up at that store when it’s convenient. Once an online customer selects merchandise from a local store, they will be notified within an hour when the item has been located and put on hold at the selected store for pickup. This not only saves time for the customer, but also allows the stores to provide better customer service by being a step ahead in the sales process.
How important is analysis in the execution of a successful logistics network?
Analysis is like an infusion of new blood for the execution of not only a successful but also efficient logistics network. It’s a structured approach to increase efficiency in the network and reduce logistics cost.
In a cutthroat competitive environment as it is now, one cannot go without understanding their logistics network as well as all the facets of the company. The significance of logistics analysis is that it ensures that the decisions that are made are beneficial for the business and lessen instances of unrealistic expectations which could later on result in disappointments.
We at The Men’s Wearhouse realized that and created a dedicated logistics analysis department which is directly led by me to help make sound decisions with the help of analytics.
One of the strategies we recently implemented to make our last-mile network even leaner is the route optimization which allows us to keep multiple business constraints into consideration and helps improve operational efficiency through better route scheduling. It helps tremendously to minimize total route distances and average miles between stops.
With an effective analysis, we can identify inefficiencies and streamline operations which will make a more profitable business.
Has your ocean carrier experience – having been with Mediterranean Shipping Co. from 2008 to 2013 before joining The Men’s Wearhouse – assisted you in carrying out your present duties, and, if so, how?
That’s a great question when I think about it.
My experience with an ocean carrier allowed me to see the supply chain world through the lens of shipping – to see it basically from 10,000 feet high, which now I can see by sitting in almost the front row.
It’s easier for me to understand the end-to-end supply chain and see the big picture to make or support decisions which will not inadvertently affect another link of the chain.
Noting that you hold a master’s in finance from Harvard University, five associate’s degrees from Houston Community College and a bachelor’s in commerce from Delhi University in your native India, would you encourage young folks such as yourself with an interest in a logistics profession to get a quality education?
Absolutely. Education is an invaluable and lifelong asset for any individual, regardless of the field, and it is the shortest path for success.
In the quickly evolving supply chain and logistics world, specifically, it is more important than ever to get a quality education to be well-equipped to make right decisions, understand the business and customer preferences through data, to research and introduce new techniques for the benefit of people, planet and profit, implement and use new technologies that we have out there.
What might Americans best learn from India, both commercially and culturally?
It goes without saying that India is a young, fastest-developing country and has a long way to go compared to many western countries. But that doesn’t change the fact that India is a nation worth reckoning with.
Just like there are things India can learn from America, there is plenty that America can learn from India.
The first one I would say is frugality. Tell an Indian to buy something, and he or she will show you a better bargain for it. The constant need for better deals for Indians makes sure that they get the better value for the money ever that you can possibly imagine.
When you finish your bottle of soda, chances are you use the PET [polyethylene terephthalate] bottle to keep water in the fridge. Indians find an alternative use for nearly everything in life – from plastic bottles to old clothes. The lesser you waste, the lesser you need in your life.
The second point I want to highlight is adaptability. The major climatic change as well as cultural and linguistic diversity force Indians to adapt to new surroundings and many unfamiliar situations. Always find a way to fit in – be it within the country or abroad.
The third thing is diversity. India is probably one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. With the kind of variety of languages to food to religion, preserving an approach of unity in diversity is no mean feat.
Of the 68 years of India’s independence, which was in 1947, 17 of the years were ruled by a woman prime minister. India has also had a woman president. Five of the 13 presidents were non-Hindu. And Hinduism is the major religion in India.
The last point I want to mention is meditation. Simply, if you want to be smart and improve your quality of life, start meditating.
Meditation was originated in India around 1500 BCE [“before the current era,” equivalent to 1500 B.C.] and it’s called Dhyana in Hindi. It has several inevitable benefits, from increasing your attention span to health benefits.
There is no specific age to do the meditation. I started when I was 14 years old, and I saw huge improvement in my attention span and I was able to score better in my classes and I did very well.
Do you ever find time for nonwork activities, and, if so, what do you enjoy doing to take your mind off business?
I absolutely make sure to find time to spend with my family and friends. And some of my family members are not in the United States, but I stay in touch with them. Even though we are many miles away, we are still very close in our hearts.
I volunteer to give back to the communities I have gained from in the United States and India.
I take time to thank people who have supported and invested in my development over the course of the years.