OPS Why Orange and Green? E-commerce image
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Lawrence Dean Shemesh:

As the founder of OPSdesign Consulting, I am often asked the question –
“What caused you to adopt the orange and green colors in the OPSdesign logo?”

“It was a time of euphoric investment and perhaps unrealistic expectations relating to dot.com companies.” logistics consulting image

The answer is a long story, but one that I believe is meaningful and worth sharing…
Back in the mid to late 1990’s I was a Partner in a material handling logistics consulting firm whose practice focused on warehouse design. As a Partner and Senior Consultant during the days of the dot-com boom, I worked on a plethora of catalog/internet fulfillment operations design projects.

Many clients of the era were well known brick and mortar retailers seeking to expand into the booming internet market channel. Some of these companies aggressively pushed the time and technology envelope in an effort to gain a strategic advantage and tactical superiority over their competitors.

However, none could compare to one client, a company known as Kozmo.com when it came to breaking convention and living on the bleeding edge. It was a time of euphoric investment and perhaps unrealistic expectations relating to dot.com companies.

Kozmo.com was a venture-capital funded online company that promised free one-hour delivery of anything from a rental movie on DVD of Keanu Reeves in the Matrix (the box office smash at the time) to a quart of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey ice cream. The company was founded by two young investment bankers, Joseph Park and Yong Kang in March of 1988 in New York City.

warehouse design consulting Image warehouse consultant Image e-dreams movie posters. Kozmo Image Beginning in an unfurnished warehouse, co-founders Joseph Park and Yong Kang and their small group of employees did everything from build the website to making deliveries on bicycle. Over the following year their business grew from 10 employees to 3,000 and extended to 11 cities. Like so many other dot-coms, Kozmo.com's growth was something hitherto unseen: It raised more than $250 million and attracted the attention of Starbucks and Amazon.com. But in the tough times following the April 2000 stock market crash.....Read More Here:  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0262021/plotsummary warehouse consulting Image warehousing transportation Image warehouse layout consultant Image warehouse layout consultants Image

The company headquarters was located at 80 Broad Street, just around the corner from the New York Stock Exchange. The company raised more than $250 million in venture capital from high-profile investors which purportedly included Flatiron Partners, Starbucks, Amazon, and Softbank of Japan.

Kozmo.com’s employees were extremely talented, young, energetic, blue jean wearing, dot-com groupies lured away from their high-paying jobs at companies such as FedEx and Target to join this cult-like, fast-paced, well-funded fledgling internet phenomenon which promised stock options and excitement in lieu of high paychecks.

Essentially the business consisted of a web-portal which offered the products that one would find in a Blockbuster video store as well as those items found at your neighborhood 7-11 convenience store. Simply fill your virtual shopping cart, check out online, and your doorbell would ring within an hour; instant gratification. The service would be offered in major metropolitan areas throughout the United States (and later in Europe) where population density would allow multiple deliveries per hour for each courier. In New York City, the adopted mode of transportation was bicycle riders equipped with insulated backpacks (so the Ben & Jerry’s would not melt). In other cities, vans and motor scooters were used depending on the geography and density.

I was the lead external consultant and part of a cross-functional project team responsible for analyzing the business requirements and developing a logistics solution capable of achieving the one-hour delivery promise in each of the markets. While most fulfillment operations of the time would process orders in days, and the leading edge catalog/internet retailers of the era would process orders within hours, Kozmo.com’s one-hour service promise meant that orders would have to be processed and strapped to a bicycle courier’s back within minutes of online check-out.

Kozmo’s marketing was equally aggressive. Their bright orange and green colors in conjunction with their “running man” logo made them very identifiable.

Kozmo.com warehouse layout consulting Image“Their bright orange and green colors in conjunction with their “running man” logo made them very identifiable.” Distribution network image

In July 2000, at the height of its business, hundreds of Kozmo.com delivery men, dressed in bright orange and green Kozmo uniforms swarmed the streets of Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington.

There was a fierce race for market share against a competitor named Urban Fetch. As a result, time was the currency of the day. Leases on small inner-city warehouse spaces (typically 10,000 to 15,000 square feet each) were signed and within weeks of the ink drying they needed to be operational. The spaces themselves were often less than ideal. As would be expected in the inner-city, ceiling heights were low; layouts were convoluted, some occupied multiple floors. Several such facilities would be needed to effectively serve New York City as an example.

The project team was working 24/7. The project ran on caffeine, donuts, and pizza. I remember literally stepping out of the office and going to sleep in the back of my SUV for an hour before going back in to complete a design that was needed the next morning. To illustrate the compression of time, due to long lead times for the fabrication and delivery of warehouse equipment, all of materials for all of the distribution centers had to be ordered and stored even before the first DC was designed. The term “Kozmo-Time” was quickly coined to refer to the lightening-fast project pace.

Kozmo’s marketing staff was brilliant. The orange and green colors adorned everything that Kozmo touched; backpacks, bicycle helmets, pens, notepads, jackets, pants, earmuffs, motor-scooters, vans… everything was orange and green. From its launch in 1988 Kozmo was everywhere from the New York times, to CNN, to Regis ordering a pack of Juicy Fruit gum on the air and the one-hour clock ticking down until the orange-clad courier with a Kozmo.com backpack rolled onto the TV stage. Banners on buses, at mass transit stations, and even posters in public bathrooms spread the gospel of Kozmo and the promise of instant gratification.

Ad Bus Shelther warehouse designer logistics Image “Banners on buses, at mass transit stations, and even posters in public bathrooms spread the gospel of Kozmo and the promise of instant gratification.” Facilities design image

Kozmo.com closed its doors (and its website) on April 12, 2001 making its final delivery of 1,100 workers to the unemployment line. This announcement occurred before the company could muster the long awaited IPO as the dot.com bubble burst and the tech stock market plummeted.

From its 1998 launch, Kozmo was everywhere. In the three weeks prior to its demise, it was mentioned in The New York Times a dozen times, including in a story about its new chief financial officer (Source: Forbes.com).

I learned a lot on this, my favorite project of all time. Aside from an extremely valuable lesson in marketing, branding, team-building, planning, and execution, I learned that nothing was impossible when it came to designing supply chain logistics networks and distribution systems. Of perhaps greater importance, I learned that the fundamental business model must be the solid foundation upon which to build the processes systems and infrastructure. If not, the enterprise is destined to topple over time.

The OPSdesign colors are a tribute to the energy, excitement, and economic euphoria of the dot-com era.

Kozmo items warehouse distribution fulfilment Image

Kozmo.com and the running man logo are trademarks of Kozmo.com. No association and/or endorsement is implied.