Wayfair Tech Blog

Leading In #LogTech: An Introduction to the Tech Team Behind our Global Logistics Network

In this blog post, you’ll get an inside look at our Wayfair CastleGate Logistics team which develops and designs the technology that enables us to get over 22 million products from the manufacturer to our customers’ homes. This will be the first in a series of posts focused on our Logistics Tech team, providing an insight into our challenges, what drives/motivates us, and how we work at Wayfair! Follow along to learn more about what it’s like to work at Wayfair! 

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CastleGate

Did you know tech enables everything we do, even our global logistics network?

Everyone knows Wayfair as the e-commerce company where you can find all things home. What most people don’t realize is that running an e-commerce business isn’t as simple as having a large selection of the best products. That’s why Wayfair has invested heavily in building out a best-in-class logistics network, called CastleGate, which delivers the competitive prices and fast delivery that online shoppers have come to expect. But we aren’t stopping there. As part of the #LogTech revolution, we are continually striving to improve and disrupt traditional logistics through the use of technology. That’s where our dedicated team of software engineers, product design engineers, product managers, and engineering managers fits in.

What is CastleGate and why does it exist?

CastleGate is Wayfair’s proprietary logistics offering which provides end-to-end services from factories across the world to the end customers across North America and Europe. Wayfair has more than 16,000 supplier partners across the globe, and we treat them like family — their success is important to us and CastleGate helps ensure that the thousands of small businesses and entrepreneurs in our supplier family can meet the demands of a competitive global marketplace. Wayfair’s control of the supply chain from the manufacturing origin all the way to the customer’s home allows us to make the right trade-offs between product positioning cost and customer order fulfillment cost while leveraging scale and buying power to strengthen unit economics. As a result, these capabilities allow our supply chain to quickly pivot based on industry and market forces not in our control (some of you might remember the recent logjam in the Suez Canal, for example). Meanwhile, suppliers that leverage CastleGate reap the benefits through cost savings and a streamlined logistics process that allows them to focus on creating great products for the customer. The size of our operation allows us to pass savings on to our smaller suppliers thanks to procurement and tech economies of scale, giving these entrepreneurs the opportunity to compete with even the most mature and sophisticated suppliers in the world.

What does our CastleGate Logistics team do?

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CastleGate Logistics is building a global digital freight forwarder for Wayfair — meaning, we ensure we can move products from wherever they are manufactured around the world to all our markets. At the origin side, our team works with factories and warehouses to understand production schedules and product availability in order to manage export and import customs clearance and streamline the downstream transportation legs. Since our team, International Supply Chain (ISC ), is not only responsible, but also accountable for the timely movements of goods, we have heavily invested in technology that allows us to make sure things flow smoothly and on time. Our software, integrations and algorithms aim to make the process as low-touch and frictionless as possible, while optimizing and prioritizing those tasks that must be escalated to a human. This investment has allowed ISC to break into the top 35 of Beneficial Cargo Owner(BCO) importers in North America.

What are some of the challenges we solve for through technology?

On the surface inbound logistics can seem pretty simple — move some product from one place to another. In reality the process is highly complex and consists of multiple touchpoints made by multiple parties, each adding a layer of visibility challenges and exceptions. Combine this with the fragmented carrier market, regional regulations, global scope (time zones, language, etc) and legacy technology and it becomes very difficult to manage. Software that solves for these real world challenges also has to be robust and flexible enough to continue to function in cases where things don’t go as planned. For example, recent events like containers falling off of vessels into the ocean or the equipment shortage due to the pandemic or even the vessel stuck in the Suez Canal delaying shipments for weeks remind our industry we can never assume a predictable path. An exception-based mindset is necessary when we build our software and digitize our processes so that we can handle deviations from the norm and respond to unprecedented events in an highly efficient, automated fashion, mitigating the downstream impacts and delivering on our promise to our customers.

What outcomes does ISC drive for Wayfair?

ISC’s main goal is to make ordering products from halfway around the world as easy as ordering pizza from your local restaurant. By doing this we are able to not only reduce friction in the end-to-end logistics process, but also provide better visibility and reliability. These improvements reduce the inbound costs, allowing for suppliers to pass these savings onto the end customer shopping with Wayfair. In addition to improving product availability, ISC is focused on unlocking optimal product placement upstream through consolidation, which reduces touches (cost) and ship time for the end customer who ultimately buys the product.

Across all components of the supply chain, we seek to implement labor-saving technologies and to automate time-consuming processes that might delay shipments. For example, one of our most impactful achievements is our Order Management System, which uses machine learning to analyze historical data and preemptively plan for changes in customer demand.

Where are we going next?

As we strive toward leading the #LogTech space as a best-in-class digital freight forwarder for our +16,000 supplier partners, our focus will be on scaling our origin offerings, expanding our global footprint, and improving the quality and cost of our services. We will accomplish this by hardening and scaling our current software platform and through the use of integrations, automation, algorithms, and optimizations to remove variability and cost from the process. As we undertake large-scale projects like building foundations for data integration and Transportation Management System (TMS), we will need talented individuals to support us in our journey!

Come Join Us!!

If you have a passion for solving real world problems and building solutions at scale, come join our ISC team. We are looking for individuals who;

  1. Want to be at the forefront of Global LogTech revolution and build architecture of our operating system and technology to power visibility into global product movement across borders
  2. Want to make an impact and can help scale ISC to be a Top 5 Global Freight Forwarder, by bringing technology to a huge market that has been operating the same way for 50 years. 
  3. Want to drive impact for our suppliers, irrespective of their size of business, and help them to win in the e-commerce revolution by providing high quality products to our Wayfair customers!

Check out some of our current openings here.

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