RIS Talks: Robin Bornkamp on Lowe’s Supply Chain Transformation
Robin Bornkamp is leading a multi-year, multi-phased supply chain transformation at Lowe’s. She joined the home improvement retailer in 2005, holding several positions and working her way up to vice president of supply chain development in 2017. Last year she was given the additional responsibility of overseeing physical infrastructure design and network capacity management.
Bornkamp has led significant change at Lowe’s and is guiding the company on the next phase of its ongoing transformation. Most recently, she developed a streamlined buy online pickup in store (BOPIS) process where products are stored at the front of the store, making it easier for customers to quickly come in and out.
Prior to Lowe’s, Bornkamp held various positions with multiple national and regional banking institutions. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business and an MBA from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
RIS recently had the pleasure of recognizing Bornkamp’s contribution to retail by naming her to the “Top Women in Retail Tech 2019" list. The following is an exclusive Q&A with the innovative retail exec:
Q&A WITH Robin Bornkamp, VP, Supply Chain Strategy & Network Development, Lowe’s
RIS: What new and emerging technology have you and your team recently deployed that helps set your organization apart?
Robin Bornkamp: As part of our order fulfillment strategy, we’ve invested in new technologies over the past several years that have helped utilize our store assets to enhance our offering to customers. This has strengthened our infrastructure and our ability to serve customers as an omnichannel retailer, most notably through BOPIS.
For some customers, a key sticking point of BOPIS is that it takes too long to pick up products in-store that they’ve ordered online. In response, we’ve developed a streamlined BOPIS process where products are stored at the front of all retail stores, making it easier for customers to quickly come in and out, and setting us apart from our competitors.
RIS: What were the strategic objectives of this technology and are there any success metrics you can share?
Bornkamp: The strategic objective of our omnichannel supply chain is to give our customers the best buying experience possible, and that means offering more flexible options to shop with us. Since implementing the new BOPIS process, we’ve reduced time spent by customers who use BOPIS by more than two-thirds, which has increased customer satisfaction and repeat usage of this service.
RIS: What project have you led that you are most proud of?
Bornkamp: Spearheading my first technology implementation roughly 10 years ago. The ultimate goal of the project was to streamline delivering parcel shipments to the customer from one of Lowe’s regional distribution centers. This was my first IT project, and I went into it with a pure business mentality. I came out with a whole new perspective and skillset thanks to the guidance of many talented team members involved in the effort. This helped me realize the importance of looking at the larger picture. I believe this is what set the foundation for my success in leading Lowe’s multi-year, multi-phased supply chain transformation.
RIS: Can you discuss any new technology that you currently developing?
Bornkamp: As part of the strategy efforts, Lowe’s recently launched a new direct fulfillment center (DFC) in Coopertown, Tennessee, that is one of the most technologically driven and sophisticated operations we’ve ever built. The center ships parcel packages directly to our customers and will service more than 1,700 stores nationwide. This will only continue to fuel our transformation to a more dynamic, customer-centric supply chain.
RIS: How has women’s role in the retail industry evolved over your career?
Bornkamp: Over the course of my career, I’ve occasionally found myself as the only woman in the room, but it’s never hampered my determination or confidence – in fact, it’s strengthened it. I’ve always felt equal to my male counterparts, both in the progression I’ve seen and support I’ve received.
RIS: What are your long-term goals for your career? What would you like to accomplish before you retire?
Bornkamp: I want to be a key contributor. I want to continue to advance my responsibilities, learn new things and take on challenges that help the business grow. In addition to making a positive impact on the company, I try to make a positive impact on people. Over the years, I’ve had mentors and role models who provided me with the counsel I needed to succeed both professionally and personally. I try to return the favor and give guidance to those who seek it, empowering them with the tools needed to advance their career and reach their long-term goals. That is the ultimate achievement.
RIS: What technology trends do you believe will have the biggest impact on the retail industry over the next 12-24 months?
Bornkamp: Technology trends are going to depend on consumer demand, which is difficult to predict due to its constant state of evolution. That being said, today’s retailers must be prepared to anticipate and respond quickly to customers’ fast-changing desires for shopping convenience and service, and that requires investing in a technology that is easy to use, flexible and automated. Technology should also continue to help retailers provide seamless customer experiences across all channels. Advances in data sharing will improve transparency between retailers and customers, supplying customers with more information and visibility into their products and orders.