When you are expanding your horizons, you are improving and adding experience, knowledge and know how to your life. This year at PARCEL Forum it was interesting to see a shift that I have not experienced at any conference/forum/tradeshow over the many years in the industry. The shift was people interacting with each other, discussing their issues/opportunities and sharing solutions and suggestions. Was this shift because of the interactive app that attendees downloaded that enabled the attendees to discuss and interact with each other? If it was, kudos to PARCEL committee. One main thing the app enabled was the sharing of best ideas across the forum, whether it was tours, speakers, exhibits or networking. It was a refreshing change and a big value to all who attended.

    During the tours the supply chain experts at each company shared their expertise and how they solved many problems. The educational tracks had several shippers that shared how they improved their facilities and openly and frankly shared the good, bad and ugly of that transformation.

    The entire forum gave attendees and opportunity to share and expand their horizons. You may ask, why is this important? Or you may know why it’s important but convincing your boss that you need to attend this off-site forum is a challenge. Here are some suggestions:

    I. One attendee shared how they were able to save over one million dollars on their transportation spend just from tips that they learned attending the show.

    II. The vendors in the exhibit hall had time to hear about your opportunities and how they would suggest you find solutions. Many share other companies that can help alleviate such issues and what process to go through to determine the best solution.

    III. Quality information from industry experts is shared in the educational tracks on software, shipping systems, negotiations with carriers, same day courier solutions… the list goes on.

    IV. Your customers expect expediency. How do you improve at the lowest possible cost? By learning the ideas and suggestions shared at this conference and how shippers just like you have achieved superior results.

    There was a recap of the forum at the last session on the last day. During this session the best tips of the three days was shared. Below are some of the tips which will hopefully help you expand your horizons and your case for attending the conference next year in September, 2016 in Dallas.

    1. Check to see what’s hiding in your carrier contracts. FedEx raised fuel surcharges twice in 2015 and UPS increased in November. Make sure you’re checking your invoices and are aware of hidden cost increases to assist your true evaluations of your shipping spend and to assist in negotiations each year.

    2. When evaluating new technology or material handling equipment, vendors ask for your average orders per day, lines, etc. Never design a system for your average times because it may crash and burn during peak. Always design for peak numbers and make sure the system has built-in flexibility and agility.

    3. For Direct to Consumer shippers, a creative way to avoid the residential fee charges is to ask the customer if you can ship to their work. When encouraging commercial deliveries vs residential deliveries, it helps to alleviate residential fees.

    4. A very small change with big savings impact for shipping internationally is getting the HS code correct. By making the small change in classification you can save a lot of money so make sure the HS tariff code is correct on your shipments. Harmonized Systems Code is a commodity classification.

    5. Evaluate the new automation processes for parcels. By implementing an automatic print and apply/insert system, an e-commerce company was able to reduce the number of packers dramatically over three shifts. There are new automation solutions for picking piece items (Opex had a booth at the Forum), piece picking with lights (Lightning Pick was there), and there are new automatic baggers in order to ship product in poly bags to avoid DIM charges.

    6. When it comes to getting the product to the customer at the best possible speed, don’t forget that USPS has an edge at the end of the week because they work weekends! Plus, USPS priority mail transit is better than ground by 1/2 days because of Saturday processing.

    This is just a sample of the best ideas from the conference there were many great tips and suggestions shared with over 25 given in the session.

    Expanding your horizons is something that will help you personally but absolutely helps the company you work for and spend a good portion of your day. Hopefully, you will make a commitment to expand your horizons every day and share this new found insight with your peers, your associates and your industry. As Dr. Seuss said, “Oh, the places you’ll go!”