To thrive in a competitive ecommerce marketplace, businesses need streamlined supply chains that deliver on customers’ expectations — and to achieve that goal, you’ll need experienced logistics professionals.
The Director of Logistics is one of the important logistics professionals for growing ecommerce companies to hire. While this position goes by several other job titles (such as “Logistics Director”, “Head of Logistics”, and “Director of Supply Chain”), its basic purpose is always the same: to manage every step in the supply chain, including procurement, production inventory, inventory management, fulfillment, and shipping. It’s a role that’s integral to developing logistics systems that are focused on supporting growth while keeping costs down.
In this article, you’ll learn what a Director of Logistics is, the common responsibilities of Logistics Directors, and tips and best practices that aspiring or existing logistics directors can use to master their logistics operations.
What is a director of logistics?
The Director of Logistics is typically the head of a company’s logistics department, and is responsible for managing end-to-end operations within a business’ supply chain, and working internally with production, leadership, sales, and warehousing teams to optimize a business’ supply chain and align it with growth goals.
Logistics Directors are key leaders for day-to-day operations teams, with supply chain managers (such as directors of fulfillment), supervisors, and employees reporting to them. The Director of Logistics themselves usually reports directly to the executive management levels in an organization.
They also nurture external relationships with manufacturers, suppliers, freight brokers, vendors, and last-mile carriers, and work closely with these parties to consistently meet deadlines as cost-effectively as possible.
Common responsibilities for a Director of Logistics
The responsibilities of a Director of Logistics will vary somewhat from company to company, depending on each business’ size and particular needs. In general, though, Logistics Directors perform several of the same core functions within a business.
Here are just a few of the key operations that Directors of Logistics are typically responsible for.
The Director of Logistics first works with leadership to develop a company’s short- and long-term goals, and then plans logistics strategically to enable the company to achieve those goals.
This strategic logistics planning usually involves setting supply chain KPIs for productivity, speed, and order accuracy (among other metrics), analyzing data collected over time, and implementing process improvements wherever possible.
In addition, Logistics Directors are responsible for preparing logistics operations for expected challenges (such as spikes in seasonal demand), and for building a resilient supply chain that is strong and stable enough to withstand unforeseen challenges (such as supply chain blockages or the COVID-19 pandemic).
Inventory and warehouse management
Depending on how staffed a business’ logistics department is, monitoring inventory and managing warehouse processes can be a large part of the Director of Logistics’ role.
In order for the supply chain to run smoothly, the Director of Logistics must ensure that inventory levels are satisfactory and that SKUs are organized and easily accessible. They must also monitor standard warehousing and fulfillment procedures such as receiving, picking, and packing, for speed, efficiency, and quality of throughput.
Often, businesses will utilize inventory management software (IMS) and/or a warehouse management system (WMS) to automate and simplify these functions, or partner with a 3PL like ShipBob with inventory and warehouse management capabilities.
In these cases, Directors of Logistics are expected to master the software and work with the business’ 3PL to optimize operations — or, if neither is delivering results, find a new logistics solution altogether.
“One of the greatest features of ShipBob’s software is the inventory management functionality, which lets us track inventory change and velocity over time. Being able to monitor which styles are selling quickly helps us always keep our best sellers in stock.
Additionally, our B2C and B2B order volume changes month to month. Between shipping new collections for wholesale earlier in the year and Q4 madness for direct-to-consumer sales, we’ve been able to get through our heaviest seasons while staying ahead of production using ShipBob’s inventory forecasting tools — even as our order volume more than quadrupled in less than a year.”
Ryan Casas, COO of iloveplum
The role of Logistics Director is highly collaborative in nature, both internally and externally. As a member of senior management, the Director of Logistics has to be able to communicate and connect with both executives and warehouse employees, and balance the demands of each.
Externally, Directors of Logistics act as liaisons between their brand and the companies that make, ship, and deliver their products. This aspect of the role is absolutely critical, as well-maintained business relationships with manufacturers, suppliers, and carriers create strong, mutually beneficial partnerships that often result in cost-savings.
As one of the only individuals with a deep understanding of all the moving pieces (and prices) in a brand’s logistics network, Logistics Directors are well-positioned to create and manage logistics budgets. They develop operational budgets for all sorts of logistics costs — including facilities, labor, supplies, and freight — in addition to annual budgets.
A Director of Logistics is also responsible for keeping a logistics network on-budget. This almost always entails continuously optimizing operations and finding effective ways to both reduce spend and enhance the customer experience.
“We are willing to pay a premium for a premium product. In our initial call with the new fulfillment network, we were told that our average fulfillment cost would be around $0.15 to $0.20 higher than ShipBob. In actuality, our costs were around 50% higher than that of ShipBob, and the new fulfillment solution was not a superior product in the slightest. They even overcharged us with billing errors.
While many 3PLs utilize a complex pricing model that makes forecasting expenses nearly impossible, ShipBob has a clear pricing model so we know exactly what we’re going to be billed.”
Gerard Ecker, Founder & CEO of Ocean & Co.
Logistics are complex systems powered by lots of dedicated people. The Director of Logistics motivates and manages all the teams and individuals that keep business operations running. Some companies require Logistics Directors to recruit and train new staff themselves, while others delegate hiring to a logistics manager or operations manager.
Prerequisites for a Director of Logistics
Though specific requirements will vary depending on the company and particularities of the position, candidates looking to become Logistics Directors can expect to see many of the same criteria on job descriptions.
Here are some major prerequisites that companies look for in their next Director of Logistics:
- Bachelor’s degree or Master’s degree in supply chain management, transportation, economics, business administration, project management, or a similar field
- 5+ years of experience in an industry-related field
- Experience managing teams of full-time and part-time employees
- Experience in analyzing metrics and data-driven decisionmaking
- Proven ability to design and execute a supply chain strategy
- Proven ability to consistently deliver on KPIs
- Technical and applied understanding of logistics software and warehouse management systems
- Strong negotiation and interpersonal skills
- Strong written and oral communication skills
- Proficient in Microsoft Office (Word, Powerpoint, Excel, etc.)
- Multitasking capabilities
Tips for new or aspiring Directors of Logistics
If you’re in the job market seeking a Logistics Director role, or already work in logistics management and want to take the next step towards becoming a Director of Logistics, here are some tips, best practices, and skills to set yourself apart.
Identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies
A good supply chain runs like a fine-tuned machine, with numerous steps, processes, and people working together — but all it takes is a single bottleneck to grind this synergy to a halt.
Inefficiencies like outdated operating processes, inefficient inventory practices, obsolete or confusing technology platforms, lack of manpower, and supply chain gaps wreak havoc on the fulfilment cycle, and can make it impossible for a business to get finished goods to customers efficiently and on budget. If these bottlenecks are not resolved, it could result in big revenue losses for the business.
Supply chain leaders like Directors of Logistics should track data to proactively identify and tackle inefficiencies before they become liabilities. Aspiring Logistics Directors should strive for a holistic understanding of the systems and software used to manage inventory and warehousing, so that pinpointing opportunities for optimization becomes second nature.
Automate processes when possible
A great Logistics Director seeks to simplify and streamline operations wherever they can. One easy way to save time, money, and hassle is to introduce automation into areas of the supply chain that are frequent and repetitive. This way, expensive human labor is directed to operations that need human attention, and reduced overall.
Automated order processing, automatic pick list generation, automatic reorder point notifications, and automated shipping not only help keep goods flowing through the supply chain smoothly, but usually result in fewer errors than when the functions are performed manually — making them a win-win for Logistics Directors.
“My end goal when I started Drop FX was to create something that was fully automated, so I could focus on driving sales. I didn’t want to have to worry about inventory and distribution as much. When I was gearing up to launch the business, I was looking for someone who would automate fulfillment for us. I chose ShipBob, and it turned out to be a very easy and scalable solution.”
Josh Hollings, Founder & CEO of Drop FX
Learn from your employees
As a Director of Logistics, do not hesitate to ask for feedback from all employees, including your direct reports.
While you as a manager might have limited visibility into the realities of certain functions, the workers who perform those tasks will usually be the first to recognize a problem or inefficiency. Effective managers set up pathways for communication with those employees, and partner with them to implement winning strategies and tackle process improvements.
In the long-run, open and honest communication on logistics teams leads to new ideas and better overall productivity.
Outsource what you can
Logistics is an ever-evolving industry, and great managers know when to delegate to experts. Outsourcing some or all aspects of the order fulfillment process to a logistics service provider or 3PL partner can go a long way in keeping a direct-to-consumer business competitive (and can actually reduce shipping costs cheaper for customers).
If higher order accuracy and faster fulfillment is important to your customers, outsourcing logistics is a scalable solution. A 3PL like ShipBob offers fulfillment solutions for any business, no matter the size.
Find Logistics Directors jobs (or hire one)
Are you looking for qualified Director of Logistics candidates? ShipBob’s Ecommerce Operations Job Board lets you post and apply to jobs for free, and helps you power up your logistics network.
Hear what ShipBob customers who manage logistics have to say
“ShipBob saves us a lot of time by saving us a lot of headaches. Whenever an issue comes up, the resolution is quick, and we appreciate how they make things right.
ShipBob’s dashboard is super intuitive and easy to navigate. Love that you can view orders based on when they are processed, completed, on hold, and in other stages. It is super helpful for us to have that and track the order every step of the way.
We have a Shopify store but do not use Shopify to track inventory. In terms of tracking inventory, we use ShipBob for everything — to be able to track each bottle of perfume, what we have left, and what we’ve shipped, while getting a lot more information on each order.”
Ines Guien, Vice President of Operations at Dossier
Read more ShipBob case studies here.
Looking for a WMS for your warehouse?
ShipBob has a best-in-class warehouse management system (WMS) for brands that have their own warehouse and need help managing inventory in real time, reducing picking, packing, and shipping errors, and scaling with ease.
With Merchant Plus, brands can even leverage ShipBob’s fulfillment services in any of ShipBob’s fulfillment centers across the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia to improve cross-border shipping, reduce costs, and speed up deliveries.
Director of Logistics FAQs
Here are answers to the most common questions about the role of Logistics Director.
How do you become a Director of Logistics?
Candidates for a Director of Logistics position typically need to have earned a Bachelor’s degree or Master’s degree in a field such as business administration, economics, transportation, operations, or supply chain management. Five or more years of managerial experience working in logistics-related fields is also commonly required by employers. An MBA in fields related to those listed above is also strongly preferred.
What skills does a Logistics Director need?
Logistics Directors must have previous management experience in logistics or supply chain-related fields, as well as skills in budgeting and strategy. Employers expect technical understanding of logistics and warehouse systems, as well as the strong data and analytical skills needed to identify optimization opportunities.
Logistics Directors also need to possess exceptional interpersonal and communication skills, since managing and developing relationships with manufacturers, suppliers, vendors, carriers, and 3PL partners is an important aspect of the role.
What does a Logistics Director do?
A Logistics Director manages operations for a business’s entire supply chain. This includes logistics planning, warehouse and inventory management, budgeting, carrier relationship management, staffing, and continuous optimization of logistics operations.