Women in Operations 2016 | Catherine Harrison

Catherine-HarrisonCatherine Harrison
Director of Operations

Education: BS Business Administration – emphasis in Marketing.

My job: Managing Inbound and Outbound Logistics for 525+ eDrop-ship vendors and one 3PL with eBags brand products.

Which best describes your career path? I knew nothing about logistics/operations, but received an opportunity in the field and gave it a try.

Which of the following resources have helped you in learning to become a logistics/operations professional? College/University; Mentors (both outside & on the job); On the Job/Experiential

My first job in retail operations was: Business Operations Associate at eToys.com, where I managed Drop-ship accounts and exception management for owned warehouse orders

I’ve been in this field for: 11 years

I’ve been in this role for: 3.5 years

Roughly, what percent of your company’s operations team are women? 40%

What is the most interesting part of your job and why? While the end goal is often the same, every day is different. It’s like a puzzle, you generally know what it’s supposed to look like in the end, but the pieces are going to fit together differently every day. It never gets boring or monotonousness.

What is the most challenging part of your job and why? Getting 525+ drop-ship warehouses to have the same urgency and commitment to excellence that we have with our own warehouse. Working to make the customer experience seamless no matter where the product is shipped from.

While we monitor and report weekly on the performance metrics of every drop-shipper (such as processing times and backorder cancellations), what really moves the needle is our team of dedicated Fulfillment Analysts who build relationships with our drop-shippers. Depending on the drop-shipper, this relationship can be with the warehouse manager, a customer service representative, and sometimes the owner of the company. While we have to have some tough conversations with under-performers, the goal is to talk with and understand the operations of each drop-shipper to find the best drop-ship model eBags offers for getting optimal performance.  If we have a positive relationship with the drop-shipper, they are more likely going to work with eBags to find ways to continuously improve, and more likely to help us out with an order exception.

Getting a seamless experience from the packaging perspective is definitely complex with 525 warehouses. We do supply our drop-shippers with our packaging guidelines as well as an eBags shipping sticker with our logo that we ask that they apply to the outside of the package.   We are actively working some new angles on packaging to help improve consistency – stay tuned!

When looking to hire logistics/operations managers, what techniques produce the best results? NetworkingPromoting from within your current team.

What are you most proud of accomplishing in logistics/operations? Converted our drop-ship network of partners onto automated inventory feeds. Reduced backorder cancels from 1.02% to less than 0.50%.  Reduced our outbound cost per unit shipped by 28%.  Revamped our onboarding process and launched more than 100 drop-ship warehouses in a year.

If asked by another woman interested in the field of logistics/operations, what would you list as the pros and cons? Pros: It’s a very metric driven field, and if you have a competitive streak to you – it’s going to be a lot of fun to make and beat your numbers. When you do, it is completely gratifying.   Cons: No matter how much you continuously improve – you will always be asked to where to find additional efficiencies and how to reduce more costs.

Are you currently mentoring other women interested in logistics? Yes

See which Women in Operations were profiled in the September 2016 issue of Multichannel Merchant:


Pooja Agarwal


Laura Barrett


Kristin Bauer


Angela Goldstein


Catherine Harrison


Lynn Jeffrey


Christine Miller


Kimberly Silva


Nancy Spector


Angie Stocklin

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