Nike makes efforts to change supply chain game

Opening new regional service centres to raise capacity, speed and precision more sustainably; using automation and technology to serve consumers; efforts to package, ship and refurbish product more sustainably; and a focus on powering the people who power Nike are the four ways in which the US-based footwear, apparel, equipment and accessories manufacturer is changing the supply chain game.

From accelerating the opening of several regional distribution centres across the United States and Europe to securing a dedicated train dubbed Nike’s ‘Sole Train’, the company is innovating to better serve consumers now, while transforming its supply chain to power long-term growth.

“From early in the global pandemic, we knew that our recovery and return to growth would neither be linear nor intuitive,” said Andrew Campion, Nike’s chief operating officer on its website. “We believed that the immediate and significant shifts we were seeing in consumer engagement would be systemic. So we took decisive action and began building a digital-first supply chain to power Nike’s more direct, faster and precise service of consumers, all while prioritizing sustainability.”

Opening new regional service centres to raise capacity, speed and precision more sustainably; using automation and technology to serve consumers; efforts to package, ship and refurbish product more sustainably; and a focus on powering the people who power Nike are the four ways in which the US-based company is changing the supply chain game.

Prior to winter 2020 in North America, Nike had operated almost entirely through centralised, national distribution centres in Memphis, Tennessee. Today, in addition to transforming its Memphis distribution centres into omni-channel facilities, Nike is also employing a multi-node network, including new regional service centres outside of Los Angeles to serve the West; in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, to serve the East; and in Dallas to serve the South.

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In Europe, Nike added a regional service centre in Madrid to begin evolving its distribution network beyond its European Logistics Campus in Belgium.

Using artificial intelligence and machine learning, Nike is leveraging technology to forward-position the products that consumers love most and deliver faster, more precisely, and without compromising sustainability.

In addition to the use of regional service centres, services like Buy Online, Pick Up in Store (BOPIS), Ship to Store, the No Rush Shipping option for consumers prioritising sustainability, and direct order drop are helping ensure consumers have, as Campion says, what they want, when and where they want it.

Within distribution centres, Nike has also deployed more than 1,000 ‘cobots’ (collaborative robots) to aid Nike teammates in the sorting, packing and movement of products, increasing speed in order processing, alleviating physical challenges and allowing teammates to focus on higher-value activities.

By reducing the number of split packages and leveraging pop-up cartons that are made of 65 per cent recycled content and 35 per cent virgin material, Nike has optimised its packaging for the benefit of consumers and the environment long term.

During the pandemic, Nike has prioritized the health, safety and well-being of its teammates above all else. That began with enhanced COVID protocols and COVID sick leave and pay continuity for essential workers in manufacturing, distribution centers and retail stores.

Today, that extends to investments in career development, training and community volunteer opportunities. In the United States, Nike provides employees with resources through a partnership with University of Memphis offering online degree programmes focusing on personal achievement and career development.

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