Take-Aways from the 2017 PostalVision2020 Conference: Business NOT as Usual for eCommerce and Fulfillment


Take-Aways from the 2017 PostalVision2020 Conference: Business NOT as Usual for eCommerce and Fulfillment

“Business NOT as Usual” was the theme of the 7th Annual PostalVision2020 conference held in Washington DC on March 21-22, 2017.  The PostalVision2020 initiative was conceived by John Callan to “Reinvent the American Postal Ecosystem of the Future”. Originally focused on regulatory and policy matters, the annual conference has become known for the involvement of dynamic thought leaders and innovators in the postal and parcel arena.

This year’s conference focused on the rapidly evolving world of eCommerce driven largely by Amazon and its growing dominance in the retail industry.  Cooper Smith of L2 set the stage with a presentation on how Amazon continues to increase their “share of customers’ wallets” by building customer loyalty through convenience, price, and selection.  In 2015, Internet Retailer reported that Amazon enjoyed 33% share of retail vs. just 9% for Walmart.  When it comes to price, Amazon offers lower prices on over 50% of items in key product segments according to a Revionics 2015 study. And Amazon dominates in terms of selection with over 405 million products compared to just 16.2 million products on Walmart.com.

Against this backdrop which provides both an opportunity and impediment for companies engaged in eCommerce, the conference provided an opportunity for a number relatively new companies to discuss their business models that promote customer-centric eCommerce.  Anthony Watson discussed how ShipBob uses its technology platform to help eCommerce seller efficiently and seamlessly improve their fulfillment process.  Laura Behrens Wu of Shippo provided insight on how shippers can implement the Shippo platform in a variety of ways which has enabled her company growth from 0 to 13,000 customers in just 3 years.

On the carrier and service provider side, Wolgang Hall of esri provided interesting examples of how esri’s mapping capabilities can enable optimal location of both retail locations and operating facilities to efficiently serve customers. And taking a step into the physical world from the digital world, Brad Harrell of CargoGlide demonstrated an innovative solution for optimizing delivery vehicle utilization which improves efficiency and reduces cost.

With opportunity and impediments running rampant in the whirlwind of eCommerce, Kelan Raph of GrandCanals showed how taking an analytical approach to one’s business enables the discovery of opportunity and the ability to set priorities for improvement. Using data from all key systems, normalizing, and modeling, analytics-driven fulfillment is an approach to meet customer expectations profitably.

The key take away from PostalVision2020/7.0 is that it is more important than ever to keep well aware and an open mind to the increasingly rapid eCommerce developments. While there is no “silver bullet” to success, there are many solutions that if properly synchronized and executed can result in success.