EVP Scott Prieto Shares Best Advice He Received and How Technology Impacted Macy’s Logistics and Operations

The Macy’s Logistics and Operations (MLO) team supports the core of our omnichannel strategies as it transports and delivers product around the country. With the support of MLO, our customers are able to shop friction-free whenever, wherever, and however they prefer. Walk behind the scenes with Coast to Coast as we interview MLO EVP Scott Prieto on his fascinating career.

“Anytime Macy’s product moves from one space to another – from a vendor, to a supplier, to a store, to a customer’s home, we are responsible,” stated Scott Prieto matter-of-factly. Prieto has been with Macy’s for more than 22 years, beginning his career as a receiving manager at the Los Angeles Distribution Center for the Broadway Stores, then rising through the MLO ranks. He has held various positions of increasing responsibilities, including Operations VP, SVP for Direct- to-Consumer Fulfillment, and his current role as EVP. “But,” noted Prieto, “the role has changed over the years with the advent of technology into logistics, distribution and fulfillment channels. The process back then was much more manual and much less digital.”

We sat down with Prieto to go behind-the-scenes at MLO where we asked him to share the best piece of career advice he had ever received. And along the way, we discovered some surprising connections between technology and physical product.

You’ve been with the company 22 years and recently took the role of executive vice president at MLO. Can you tell us a little bit about your career path and how you got where you are today?

I started out working as a receiving manager for the Broadway Store at the Los Angeles Distribution Center. I was promoted to Director of Operations and then Operations VP of the Los Angeles Distribution Facility, and also served as VP in other facilities in California and New Jersey. In 2008, I had the opportunity to open a new building in e-commerce as the Facility VP; it was an opportunity to learn a new side of the logistics business. We built the team from scratch and built the building from the ground up. In 2009, I returned to New Jersey as SVP of Direct-to-Consumer Fulfillment for macys.com and bloomingdales.com. I had the opportunity to work with e-commerce, marketing, web designers, merchants and web developers. The team did amazing things in those early years. Everyone had a voice. Everyone participated in what we were doing. We moved very fast and constantly adjusted to change. This was still early in the ecommerce evolution of retail and customers were still skeptical of online purchasing. My role was to build that trust with our customer through fast, accurate fulfillment of their orders. In 2014 I took on the role of EVP, supporting our Macy’s stores, warehouses and distribution centers.

What can you tell someone who wants to know a little bit more about the logistics side of the organization?

The history of MLO is built on three, critical pillars: people, process and technology. We ensure that we have the best people in the industry, we apply Sigma practices to refine our processes, and we add innovative, industry-leading technology to provide world class service at a low cost alternative.

How has technology impacted MLO?

22 years ago, a distribution center might require about 3,000 workers to move product to the stores it supported and more than 10 days before a store received their product. Today, that same distribution center has 150-200 employees and is capable of moving product from receipt to shipping in under one hour. This change has been achieved through the implementation of technology. One example is electronic data interchange (EDI), information transfers between Macy’s and vendors, and shippers, supporting the seamless flow of product through the process of distribution as well as electronic vendor payments. Through EDI methods, additional technologies such as barcode scanning and automated sortation further enhance our distribution centers’ capabilities for excellence in execution. Much of this technology did not exist 20 years ago. Employees used to key in product details into mainframe systems (“green screens”) and communicate with vendors through fax machines; now we can scan these same details in a fraction of the time.

How does Logistics and Operations bring the magic of Macy’s to our customers?

Ensuring fresh, exciting product is delivered to our stores each day, delivering sales to our customer’s doorsteps and bringing new furniture and bedding into our customer’s home through our Home Delivery Network. Home Delivery is the only experience where we, as a Macy’s organization, enter a customer’s personal space by walking into their homes. It is a uniquely personal experience. We pride ourselves on making sure the customer feels the magic of Macy’s every time. We have an obligation to deliver an experience that lives up to the Macy’s brand image. With most Macy’s sales experiences, the customer comes to us. With delivery, we come to them. Our ‘white glove delivery service’ is part of how we make the customer’s experience magical. We’ve worked closely with our delivery service to set expert delivery standards, including how to knock on a customer’s door and become an extension of the magical service our sales associate provided. Drivers roll out red carpets and treat the customers’ home and furniture as their own – from wearing clean booties to vacuuming while furniture is being moved. We’ve been able to provide our customers some of the best experiences in the retail industry.

You have a very successful career. Were there any interesting twists or turns along the way that you think someone would find interesting or helpful for their own career path?

My experience moving around the country and embracing change has been crucial to my career path. I’ve never looked at change as difficult or uncomfortable. I look at change as something that moves me forward. Embrace change. Be a student of your profession and constantly learn. This is what makes us successful.

In your opinion, what are some characteristics important to being successful at Macy’s?

First, be curious. Second, believe in the power of the team. Third, trust. You will seldom harness the full capability of a team without first establishing trust in each other.

What is the best piece of advice you have received that has helped you in your career?

As a natural introvert I had to be constantly aware of how I was participating in the organization. A previous boss told me, ‘Keep track of your interactions. You should have more outgoing interactions than incoming calls.’ That means you’re really engaged in the organization. You don’t just wait for the business to come to you. You must be proactive, not passive. Count how many interactions you have. There should be more outgoing interactions that you drive than incoming (others coming to you).