Tompkins Fulfillment Services

Four Major Areas of Learning on the Evolution of MonarchFx

Our learning over 5 years through the evolution on MonarchFx has been great. Four areas of learning that have a significant impact on MonarchFx operations are: perspective, pilots, Role of MonarchFx and staffing. In addition to supporting Monarch’s progress, these four may very well be helpful to you.

  1. PERSPECTIVE: There are many famous quotes that emphasize the JOURNEY. These quotes tend to be: “______ is a Journey, not a Destination”. The “ _____ “ at the start of the quote can be:

    • Life
    • Happiness
    • Success
    • Entrepreneurship 

    Our original PERSPECTIVE was that MonarchFx was a destination, it was a PROJECT. It should be managed from start to finish with a series of ACTION PLANS. One of our Major Areas of Learning after incubating/ evolving MonarchFx for over 5 years is that is that MonarchFx is not a destination, not a project; it is not to be managed. We have been learning that:

    • MonarchFx is not a destination, but a journey.
    • MonarchFx is not a project, but a pursuit.
    • MonarchFx should not be managed, but should lead.

    The implications of these three learning’s are:

    • We need to adopt a long term view.
    • We must pursue excellence in all we do.
    • We must keep our eye on the horizon.

    All learning’s must be done in unison with this long term pursuit of excellence, while focusing on the horizon.

  2. PILOTS: For the first three years of our incubating an Amazon Logistics Counteroffensive we had a variety of “Chicken or Egg, Which Comes First” discussions/arguments. Sixteen months ago we conceived the handle MonarchFx:

    a. As in the reinvention of a caterpillar into a butterfly: Monarch.
    b. What was trending, innovative and cool (Fx) and also solving specific challenges (Fx, where x=a for apparel, x=c for crossborder, x=g for general merchandise, etc.).

    We concluded, due to capital requirements, that the only way to launch MonarchFx was with a series of pilots. These pilots were to “approximate” the real MonarchFx by operating our initial Fulfillment Centers (FCs) in existing 3PL operations, using in-place material handling systems and information technology. It is these “pilots” that we presented to our potential sellers (retailers and brands). The pilot concept was the least capital intensive approach to startup, and we were able to attract six sellers who were willing to pursue the concept. However, this pilot pursuit resulted in labyrinth of suboptimal “solutions” that after much effort came crashing down as failing one of our foundational learning’s: We must pursue excellence in all we do. Therefore,we killed the pilot concept and restarted the process to achieving our goals, even if that required us to invest close to $100 million dollars, to really get MonarchFx operational. Thus conquering the “Chicken or Egg,” while really, really doing it right.

  3. ROLE OF MonarchFx: Sixteen months ago in the pursuit of pilots we viewed MonarchFx as a “homeowners association,” an Alliance with the operating responsibility falling on Lead Logistics Providers (LLP’s). These LLP’s would be one of our three 3PLs. The LLP for each seller would hold the contract with the sellers and have responsibility over IT, the final delivery, and the other 3PLs in a sellers MonarchFx ecosystem. As we pursued the Pilot concept and:

    c. understood the complexity and costs created with this LLP structure,
    d. understood the requirement of MonarchFx evolving from being an Alliance of parties, to being a Managing and Operating Company who outsourced IT, fulfillment and final delivery, we grasped the best Role of MonarchFx.

    This “Operating Company” required a new structure and role for MonarchFx. This new structure and role increased accountability, reduced complexity, simplified operations, and increased the responsiveness of MonarchFx.

  4. STAFFING: As Pilots were eliminated and roles were refined it is not surprising that the staffing of MonarchFx had to be significantly changed. This staffing involved both the internal staffing of MonarchFx and the external partners of MonarchFx. These staffing changes were a result of major advancements that were made in the evolution of the responsibility and role of MonarchFx.

It has been an amazing evolution of learning, refining, improving and transforming for MonarchFx. The initial concept of an Amazon Counteroffensive has remained, but the above Four Major Areas Of Learning On The Evolution of MonarchFx have resulted in a MonarchFx model that provides for a responsive, lower cost, customer centric, performance focused organization; with an entrepreneurial and learning culture that can change the world and how shoppers shop and how sellers sell.

Exciting times, ready to begin the countdown to launch in 1Q2018.

As always, I wish you all the best,

James A. Tompkins, Ph.D.
MonarchFx Alliance
6870 Perry Creek Road
Raleigh NC 27616
919 855 5501 – Direct Line
919 872 9666 – Fax
919 637 2508 – Mobile

Assistant: Debbie Flynn, 919 855 5447