The fifth annual ACS International Supply Chain Seminar took place at The Shard in London on the 7th of June. Delegates from global retailers were a who’s who of UK retailing.
An introduction from Clyde Buntrock, VP of Allport Cargo Services
Clyde opened the event by reminding delegates that “Over the last five years our seminars have seen 230 delegates from the biggest names in global retail. As market leaders we have a unique proposition; we are financially strong, we are flexible and agile, entrepreneurial, solution orientated and, above all, customer centric.”
Clyde gave an update on ACS’s latest achievements with highlights including increased investment in France where ACS now has 8 offices, and a new Chinese HQ in Shanghai, located on an ACS owned and invested logistics park. This new facility takes the ACS logistics footprint in Shanghai alone to over 1,000,000 ft2.
Nanja Piek, Head of Economics Section, The Royal Netherlands Embassy UK, presented an insightful and interesting view of Brexit from The Netherlands. She expressed her country’s ‘regret and respect’ over the UK’s decision to leave the EU and then highlighted three key issues to be resolved; the Irish border, the jurisdiction of the EU Court of Justice and the customs union. Nanja advised delegates to hope for the best but prepare for the worst; to consider issues such as customs procedures, VAT, veterinary checks and product control standards.
ACS’s Ian Moran, Group Customs and Trade Solutions Manager continued the conversation about Brexit, this time from the UK point of view. Ian explained how the post-Brexit border may work and flagged several issues relevant to ACS clients over increased checks at borders and VAT being payable on imports. A transition period allows for new technology to be developed and for businesses to prepare but the impact could be considerable. Retailers should consider planning alternative supply routes, the implications of purchasing EU originated goods from UK suppliers and forward buying of currencies to offset sharp changes in the exchange rates during key decision periods.
Damian Beswick, Commercial Director at eCargo discussed the possibilities for and limitations on retailers taking their brand to China – the largest e-commerce market in the world with sales in 2017 of US$1.15 trillion. Damian explained that many retailers may, unknowingly, already have product for sale in China that they are unaware of; stock is often resold with a generous mark-up. If this is the case, a brand will already have a following that retailers can benefit from. He also touched on the differences found in China, the importance of the right selling platform and involving social media “influencers”.
Hector Patel, Country Head – Sea Freight at Jeena India – an ACS partner company for the last 27 years. Hector’s entertaining presentation gave a portrait of the changes India is currently experiencing. Hector described an improvement in public welfare, infrastructure development, a new sense of accountability in the public domain, more compliant banking practices, and deregulation that is reducing red tape and corruption. Transparency through technology has played a part in this. All of this means that, as the world’s second largest user of the internet and with GDP growth at 8.9%, India is, in addition to an exporter of products and raw materials, an emerging market that retailers should seriously consider.
Andy Hawkins, Product Director at software company Adjuno turned to the technnical side of logistics and discussed Artificial Intelligence (AI) and predictive analytics and how they could benefit the supply chain. The more data this software collects about the variables of the supply chain –weather, vessel and transportation schedules, global public holidays and seasonal events, etc – the better it can help with pre-planning, shipment and intake planning and cost management. There will come a time when the consumer is the first human to touch the product with automated ordering, manufacturing on demand and autonomous transportation.
The presentations were followed by an evening of networking over drinks and food.