I’ve just enjoyed the incredible opportunity of joining over 2,400 attendees at the TPM annual conference, organized by JOC Events, which took place March 3-6 2019 in Long Beach, U.S.A.
JOC Events have long since been considered to be the ‘must-attend’ conferences for shipping and international logistics throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. However, this event was a first for me! It was one which provided me some great opportunities. I gained in-depth knowledge into not only the latest market forecasts and analysis but also learned from valuable insights and opinions being delivered by experts who are considered to be ‘in the know’ concerning everything that’s trending and deemed to be of great importance throughout the supply chain industry.
Key Conference Themes
- International trade – Trade concerns were a top priority, with much activity in the arena to negotiate a positive economic outlook. Leading discussions concerning the necessity to position new trade corridors and gateways are well underway. Recognition of the reliance on accurate data and the shift to digitization to enable these strategies still underpins this necessary transition.
- Awareness/Education – The conferences acknowledged the need to educate and upskill the supply chain community in terms of the ever-evolving and changing landscape which provided a forum for supply chain solutions companies to exhibit their products and strategies that target pain points and the challenges getting experienced within the supply chain.
- Consumer expectation and experience – The realization in the marked shift within the consumer profile, requires the industry to support and assist the supply chain community in meeting customer needs with knowledge and innovative solutions, with a principal emphasis on utilizing predictive analytics, international transportation solutions, and collaborative partnerships.
The Challenges Facing Retailers
Let me share what I learned about some of the hurdles facing retailers, which were expressed by retail companies during the many Q&A sessions provided at the conference. Three significant issues came to the fore:
- E commerce – Servicing the channel requires the implementation of more systems and processes which in turn are triggering a considerable level of complexity requiring an address.
- “Last mile” delivery – An overall lack of visibility through preceding milestones is having a direct impact on the multiple options that need to be deployed to achieve delivery levels aligned to customer’s expectations.
- Analytics – There is a difficulty getting experienced when tapping into the relevant data sources to extract the information in a simple and meaningful way to deliver the necessary decision-making tools.
More and more customers (especially the millennials) are making their purchases online. However, this trend requires e commerce retailers to find new strategies, and solutions to enable them to adjust to their customer’s needs and to provide the proactive approach and engagement required throughout the multiple channels getting utilized.
E commerce enablers – businesses that operate online shopping platforms to enable consumers to browse, shop and make purchases across a wide variety of merchants, require the benefits provided by service providers that help retailers to execute their digital strategy. By offering a one-stop solution which encompasses content production, web platform optimization, and performance marketing technologies to integrate all players, the opportunity to ensure customers’ needs get met with; from order fulfillment, through to delivery to the customer becomes a reality.
But where do analytics sit within all of this? Unfortunately, it’s often the case that an organization needs to tap into data from outside of their premises and while many are doing so in pursuit of gaining a competitive and analytical edge, it’s a known fact that embracing third-party data sources can be extremely challenging.
In light of the above challenges, I’d recommend retailers to adopt intelligent supply chain management platforms that are agile, provide high levels of visibility and can integrate data seamlessly from external sources. These platforms will empower retail companies to meet customer needs quickly, augmenting customer loyalty and retention as a result.
Logistics companies also have a role to play, by providing their retail clients with such solutions.
I hope you found this recap of my attendance to the TPM conference helpful, and hope you’ll contact me or any member of the Gravity team to learn more about the exciting innovations entering our marketplace at an incredible pace. Let’s stand united and embrace the future as one!