Our Recap

“Nordstrom’s legendary service is about selling feelings, and supply chain is the heartbeat of those feelings.”

Miguel AlmeidaPresident, Nordstrom Digital

The CognitOps team had a thrilling time at RILA LINK 2024 – learning, connecting, and collaborating with dynamic industry leaders. In addition to some fantastic conversations and meetings, we were inspired by the thought-provoking sessions.

Here are a few of our favorites:

Navigating the Turbulent Geopolitical Landscape

Alex Ramirez

In this session, Dr. Richard Haass, a veteran diplomat and respected scholar of international relations, and Sally Gilligan, Chief Supply Chain and Transformation Officer at Gap, provided insight into today’s major geopolitical challenges and the strategic considerations retail supply chain leaders must evaluate as they plan for the future.

One of the best quotes: “Concentration is the enemy of supply chains. Resiliency is the acknowledgment that you can’t solve today’s problems. You can only manage them.”

  • RILA LINKThe Mideast: Because there’s no balance of power and no common view of what’s acceptable, the area will continue to destabilize. 
  • Russia, Ukraine & Europe: Putin sees time as his friend, and our elections and NATO’s future will dictate the future.
  • China: China’s growth is slowing, and you can only pick low hanging fruit once. China may pursue drastic measures given they don’t have many growth levers other than an invasion. Tariffs might be a trigger. 
  • Latin America: Latin America remains untapped from a supply chain standpoint. We might see bilateral and trilateral agreements, but the days of free trade are over. Both political parties are against them. 

“Resiliency is the acknowledgment that you can’t solve today’s problems. You can only manage them.”

Dr. Richard Haassveteran diplomat and respected scholar of international relations

Delivering Legendary Customer Service through the Customer-Facing Supply Chain 

Alex Ramirez

Accenture and Nordstrom execs Mike Gregory, Alexis DePree, & Miguel Almeida shared how “meeting the next demand” requires more than a customer-facing supply chain. It requires effective collaboration between the supply chain team and Ecommerce team. The session focused on the power of that effective collaboration to deliver best-in-class customer experiences across all customer channels and touch points.


Miguel: “Nordstrom’s legendary service is about selling feelings, and supply chain is the heartbeat of those feelings.”
lexis: “Consistent execution drives trust.”
Miguel: “Supply chain allows us to push the envelope in service of the customer.”
Alexis: “Supply chain is a value creation center.”

Supply Chain Visibility: Building Blocks of the Future

Alex Ramirez

Retail leaders Josh Mayer, Scott Hines, and AJ Sutera  from JD Sports Fashion, Duluth Trading Company & EasyPost discussed how they’re harnessing cutting-edge technology to unlock new dimensions of business value throughout the entire supply chain. 

I’m not surprised “Transparency” was voted as the number one meaning of visibility in the session poll. So many silos and functions, and simply knowing what is going on where is mission critical.

I was also glad to have my question on warehouse visibility get upvoted! It seems like retailers are still struggling to find the right analytics solutions that trigger actions for better outcomes. The need is there! 

In fact, Scott said it best:

“We have more good ideas than IT has the bandwidth to implement.” 

Building End-to-End Supply Chains for the New Retail

Alex Ramirez

Mike McLellan, Jennifer McKeehan, & Abhay Patel from Walmart & 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, INC. discussed how customer behaviors have shifted, reshaping the products, services, and experiences that retailers deliver. This was a deep dive into what it takes to enable a truly end-to-end supply chain that is responsive to every delivery mode necessary to help customers get the products they want when they want them.

There were two great quotes that I underscored in my notes:

Jennifer: “Focus on the customer. Don’t show them your org chart.” This is so spot on. Too many brands and solution providers put their inefficiencies and org debt on the customer!

Abhay: “Empower your data!” What a great shift in the mindset. We often talk about using data to empower our people, but are you investing in making the data accessible, useful, and actionable?

“Empower your data!”

Abhay PatelBrand President, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM

Investing to Meet the Evolving Customer

Alex Ramirez

Ylan Mui, Javier Quiñones, Tanja Dysli covered the realities of IKEA‘s omnichannel vision as well as the supply chain changes needed to drive the IKEA mission of supporting people and the planet.

One of the first surprises for me was that IKEA owns forests, wind farms, and solar farms in Texas. Their commitment to sustainability is impressive, as they work towards their net zero goal. In 2023, they lowered their carbon footprint by 12%.

IKEA shared their approach to innovation adoption: trial the long-term potential but move quickly with projects that have low hanging fruit. For example, they’ve implemented drones, labor management, and circularity. It’s inspiring to see a company taking such a comprehensive approach to sustainability. 

Successfully Integrating Your Workforce into an Automated Environment

Aditi Vish

A great session hosted by Andrew Billings with panelists from a diverse group of retailers: SPARC Group LLC, Abercrombie & Fitch Co., Nordstrom and TorridMark Dorwart, Ngoc Phan ,Larry Grischow and Mike Burns openly discussed their wins, losses, and lessons learned from their automation transformations, with a focus on workforce impact. 

They covered leaders, kings and queens, creative thinking, box turning, training dojos and most importantly making sure they have platforms in place that support the processes required by the future worker. Truly valuable insights and strategies!

The Store as a Strategic Supply Chain Asset

RILA LINKBeyond being a channel for sales and customer experience, stores are increasingly a strategic asset to the supply chain. Foot Locker’s Frank Bracken discussed the next level of collaboration between supply chain and store teams. Highlights: 

  1. Customer centricity 
  2. Approach supply chain with an enterprise mindset 
  3. Take care of your frontline workers

Strong Ecosystem Partnerships: Collaborative Planning to Tackle Big Challenges

Aditi Vish

It was great to hear ladies Raina Avalon Katie Farmer Shelley Simpson and gentleman Brian Dodge (He/Him/His) from BNSF Railway The TJX Companies, Inc. J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc. share how collaboration can create a better and more predictable ecosystem. Truly interesting conversation about data, criminals, sustainability. Transitioning from transaction to strategic relationships will lead to greater success. 


We had an amazing time in Grapevine this year! Please feel free to contact us if you’d like to discuss any of the topics you heard at LINK 2024 or how CognitOps can help improve your supply chain visibility. We’d love to keep the conversations going! 

You’ll see us next at the big MODEX show in March. Let us know if you’d like to meet up


CognitOps | The Team - Alex Ramirez

Alex Ramirez
CEO & Co-Founder

Alex Vish
Account Executive

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