Supply chain guru Shekar Natarajan has departed his role at Quiet Platforms after playing a key role in developing the AEO logistics subsidiary that launched publicly last August. The firm said it is looking to “pull back on expenses to reset the business” as “it has not achieved the plans we envisioned.”
“American Eagle Outfitters is committed to the continued transformation of our supply chain, and Quiet Platforms plays an important role in that strategy as we work to achieve increased profitability,” the company said in a statement Tuesday. The software tool has been “tremendously beneficial,” providing “much needed distribution and fulfillment capacity to grow our industry-leading brands” like Peloton, Steve Madden and manufacturer Li & Fung, but the company is ramping down investment moving forward as it has not delivered financially. “This is necessary to improve profitability, particularly given prevailing macro headwinds,” AEO said.
Natarajan, who also served as AEO’s chief supply chain officer, built out the company’s in-house logistics solution after it acquired Seattle startup AirTerra in August 2021. Founded by Nordstrom and Walmart alum Brent Beabout, the platform offered efficient and affordable shipping options to mid-tier retailers and brands, allowing them to compete with corporate heavy hitters. It aggregated packages from multiple shippers through its own metropolitan networks, working with regional carriers and USPS on last-mile delivery. Months later, AEO acquired a network of in-market fulfillment centers across Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, St. Louis and Jacksonville dubbed Quiet Logistics. The system brought products closer to the company’s end market, upping inventory efficiency and slashing costs for same-day and next-day delivery to shoppers and retail locations.
AEO announced the launch of Quiet Platforms Delivery Network in Q3 2022, opening up expansive national delivery services to enterprises large and small. The program sought to give brands and retailers access to a breadth of carrier services using a universal delivery label, negating the need for multiple integrations, complicated invoicing and contract negotiations with 40 in-network service providers. In December, the company took on the traditional warehousing model with real estate brokerage JLL, announcing that it would be pioneering a rent-as-a-percentage-of-revenue system wherein a tenant pays for storage on a variable scale based on income.
At the Manifest logistics conference in February, Natarajan said that “collaborative commerce” was the key to achieving “Supply Chain 4.0”—an interconnected and synergistic web of logistics services that upends the industry’s status quo. At the Shoptalk conference last week, the now-former company president said he formed the venture with the vision of democratizing access to operational capabilities and support, leveling the playing field for SMBs.
Due to this week’s organizational changes, the company said Natarajan decided to exit the business, effective immediately. Niall Murphy, founder of Internet of Things (IoT) platform EVRYTHNG and Quiet Platforms’ chief business officer, will assume interim operational oversight and responsibility.
“We believe Quiet will continue to deliver results for AEO, and over time has the potential to be a meaningful and profitable third party logistics provider,” the company added. “With the support of our experienced leadership team, we remain focused on driving the business forward.”