Parcel Shipping & Distribution Expo, October 5-7, 1999   

The Expo, held in Chicago, was a rousing success from the standpoint of the magazine staff. But how we felt about the show is one thing. How did the real experts the shippers and exhibitors feel about the show? What did they learn? Here are some insights collected by the staff and comments from attendees.


Carriers Roundtable

The Carriers Roundtable gave carriers the opportunity to spotlight some of the new services and new visions theyre offering. It also gave shippers a chance to ask questions.


A few highlights include:

           Business-to-residential delivery is clearly a hot area. Airborne@Home is a new service partnering with the USPS to provide business-to-residential delivery. DHL has also partnered with the USPS. RPS is testing a residential delivery program and virtually every shipper has new plans and new offerings in this arena. If youre shipping to residential customers, its time to check with carriers about whats new and whats on the immediate horizon.

           Carriers can be much more than transportation companies. Many are offering their logistics expertise to customers to provide total logistics services physical and electronic or additional expertise when shipping to foreign countries.

           Web-based services are increasing dramatically. UPS now has over half of its transactions coming in electronically.

  The USPS offers many different services more than you probably know to help you get to residential and business customers at an affordable price.

  UPS does reserve the right to charge $3 for excessive use of its online system to check on delivery status. Other major carriers admitted to similar policies but claimed they havent, to their knowledge, been enforced.

  On-time guarantees are fine but wouldnt it be better to get the package there than to offer a refund?


Shippers Roundtable

The Shippers Roundtable, held the last day of the show, provided some valuable insights. A lively discussion, led by the shippers, revealed some very interesting information and provided a great opportunity for networking.


Among the items noted during this free-for-all discussion:

  Styrofoam peanuts can be recycled through MailBoxes Etc. Customers often have concerns about what to do with loose Styrofoam packaging. Now you can give them an ecologically-sound answer. Reuse them. Some locations will also take other materials such as corrugated packing material. For the location of the one nearest you, call the Peanuts Hotline at 800-828-2214.

  Manifest scales need to be calibrated on a regular basis. Make sure yours is correct.

Even small discrepancies can

mean big differences in total shipping costs.

  Dont ignore courier services for same-day and even next-day deliveries. Some couriers have expanded service areas and may be more effective than traditional expedited carriers such as FedEx.

  For many customer returns, USPS Business Reply coupons work better than UPS call tags. Check out the options to see if you can improve service.

  Theres a glitch in UPS Online software (that will reportedly be fixed in February 2000). For Saturday deliveries, if a ZIP Code isnt on the Saturday delivery list, the software will still accept the shipment and not advise you that Saturday delivery is unavailable. If you need Saturday deliveries to lower density areas, be sure to check with your UPS representative to ensure you have the most current software and that the bug has been fixed.

  There are new software packages available that help you easily collect on the on-time guarantee of the different carriers.

  The USPS offers free, custom-imprinted Priority Mail packaging to large customers. But they also offer specialized packaging for common items such as videotapes. Dont overlook the opportunity to see if your products meet some of the criteria for common items.

  With increased interest in residential delivery there is, in effect, a price war among carriers and it is possible to get a discount even from UPS for residential deliveries. Check with your carriers now to see if you can get better rates.

Attendee Survey

Based on randomly-selected names, heres what we learned. About half the attendees surveyed were not looking for particular solutions, they were looking for new ideas. The other half had specific projects in mind.


Bob Pollock, vice president of Operations for Arrow Distribution, a Streetsboro, OH-based music distributor, observed that he saw a lot of young people who are developing systems for their firms. Pollock, who was a speaker, sensed they were operations people in small- to mid-sized companies who need quality systems. He noted that another speaker had asked about next day requirements: 60% to70% responded that they had that requirement; but five to six people indicated they need same day delivery, up from one person who responded affirmatively last year.


In addition to speaking, Pollock was looking for some RF-linked terminals to replace some he has that will be made obsolete by the manufacturer next year. Hell be testing a system he found at ScanTech. An added benefit was that he discovered logistics consulting firms and is in touch with two of them: AFMS and SmartTran.


Howard Patricot, MSC Industrial Directs Small Packaging Logistics manager, based in Melville, NY, came looking for ideas and to network with other logistics professionals. MSC is a national distributor of industrial products. The number of companies using the USPS surprised him, though he noted many of them were consumer-oriented. He also noted that there was a major focus on on-time guarantee refunds but took the opportunity to challenge the carriers to make deliveries happen rather than refund money.


Terry Esper, traffic administrator for Hallmark Cards, the Liberty, MO-based leader in greeting cards and gift items attended last years show as well as this years. He and a colleague came mostly to gather information, benchmark their operations and look for new ideas. He did find some for residential delivery and got some good insights from networking with peers and consultants. He particularly liked the show being in conjunction with ScanTech.  He and his colleague had discussed the idea of gathering information for his engineers but discovered they were attending ScanTech. This gave them the opportunity to compare notes and get additional information on-site. He noted there seemed to be a lot interest in compliance labeling for the major retailers.


Kenneth S. Kollmeyer, executive vice president of Operations for Moore Medical Corp., a direct mail and e-commerce catalog that markets medical devices to non-hospital facilities based in New Britain, CT, was a speaker in the Warehousing track. He found it useful to attend some other sessions and found the topics pertinent and timely for distributors and supply chain people. Having just installed a new ERP system, he was looking for more solutions. His next major project will be introducing a major

e-commerce upgrade, and he also met a number of e-commerce experts in sessions which proved to be helpful. After that, hes looking forward to further streamlining his logistics flow.


David L. Victory, information systems manager for Galerie au Chocolat, a Cincinnati, OH, manufacturer and distributor of novelty items, came looking for barcoding scanning equipment for inventory as well as a WMS solution. According to Victory, I found more than what I was looking for (mostly at ScanTech). Because he quickly found solutions to his scanning questions, he had more time to spend in the Parcel show. Hes looking for a way to process small orders efficiently he didnt come up with a solution yet but he did come away with a lot of ideas in addition to people doing same thing or companies providing tools. I have enough to go to management and present our ideas, he said. His colleague, who also attended, was the inventory manager so they got to cover the problems from both operations and IT perspectives.


Bram Johnson, senior vice president of Marketing for RPS, the Pittsburgh, PA-based division of FDX, was a member of the Carriers Roundtable. He is a regular attendee at the show and considers it one show that he has to attend. I always come away with some good ideas, he said. The attendee quality is good, and they ask good questions.


Shelli Austin, logistics supervisor for Brightpoint, Inc., an Indianapolis, IN, distributor of wireless communications said this was her first show. She came looking for new ideas and found different shipping software and learned new opinions on carrier negotiations


Exhibitors and speakers also found the event positive. Steve C. Dethlefs, Womenswear Distribution Center manager for Pendleton Wollen Mills based in Bellevue, NE, spoke on his companys WMS implementation. He felt that the audience was eager to hear

his message.


Moore Medicals Kollmeyer called it a top-shelf type of program from his perspective as a speaker and an attendee.


Arrows Pollock had never attended a Parcel Shipping & Distribution Expo before, although he had been to ScanTech before. He was amazed at how full some of the sessions were.


There were some problems noted with the seminars, notably that some session titles that didnt seem to correspond with the talk given. And, as one attendee put it, From the moment I registered on Tuesday, I was in back-to-back-to-back seminars. Some felt that more time needed to be available for the exhibits.


MSCs Patricot, who has attended a number of Parcel Shipping & Distribution Expos, noted that earlier shows had more carriers something he likes in order to continually compare service offerings. This years show, he felt, had a lot more concentration on material handling, shipping and manifesting systems and other software offerings.


These products, however, were just what others were looking to purchase. Pat Evans, president of EVCOR Systems, the Aurora, IL-based systems integrator was an exhibitor. He noted the high quality of leads generated and the intelligent questions he heard from attendees. EVCOR offers manifesting as well as warehouse management and e-commerce packages and, in his words, people were ready to buy; a lot of the interest is the result of the show itself. He noted that there was a greater number of intelligent prospects this year than last. People are looking for answers; they want to make informed decisions. And he felt the show offered them that opportunity.


Successful Show

The show was a success for attendees, speakers and exhibitors alike. But, yes, we also heard that there are opportunities for improvements and some tremendous ideas for things we can do with the magazine to better serve our readers.


Shippers werent the only ones scribbling in their notebooks during the show. The staff did a lot of that as well.


Once weve had a chance to digest it all, well start making some of the changes youve suggested.


Parcel Shipping & Distribution would also like to thank the Advanstar staff, especially Joel Dunkel, show manager; Sue Ambrose, marketing director; and Mary Venucci, conference coordinator; for their efforts in making the show and conference work flawlessly despite some problems with electricity in the convention center. These people tend to work behind the scenes and rarely get enough recognition for the work they do.