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IRX 2014 PREVIEW Operations and Logistics Conference

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The latest in our series previewing the highlights of IRX 2014 focuses on the Operations and Logistics Conference.

With the ascent of online and multichannel retailing has come a new focus on logistics. Joined-up logistics and operations are vital to enable the consistent, seamless shopping experiences that retailers are working so hard to deliver. At the Operations and Logistics Conference, part of IRX 2014, speakers including retailers and experts in the field who will share their expertise and experience on how they planned and executed their multichannel logistics strategies.

“Operations and logistics are the underpinnings of multichannel,” said InternetRetailing editor-in-chief Ian Jindal. “In the other streams we’re learning how to engage with customers, but the very best promises are as nothing unless we can deliver on them. In this track we’re going to look at how the best in the business manage to get their product, move their product and make the most money out of that, delivering on the promises for the customer.”

Mothercare director of logistics Walter Blackwood opens the conference, after the chair’s introduction, with a discussion of practical approaches to a joined-up logistics strategy. His half-hour presentation, Delivering bottom line benefit through optimising your operations and logistics strategy within a multichannel marketplace, takes place at 10.35am.

The logistical challenges faced by retailers selling through online marketplaces is the subject for an interview with Louis Agabani, co-founder of MyHigh.St at 11.10am. In How can retail and online marketplaces collaborate efficiently from an operations and logistics perspective? Agabani will tackle questions such as what are the key operational factors for retailers to focus on when trading through online marketplaces, what the pitfalls are, and where the opportunities lie.

Then at 11.35am, Shop Direct Group’s head of retail logistics Chris Haighton and head of returns, James Harper, are the speakers in a case study focusing on returns, an important but sometimes overlooked aspect of online trading. In Building an efficient online returns strategy, the two will analyse their experiences of dealing with returned goods, from customers’ expectations through to best practice ways to deal with returned stock. The case study presentation is followed by a break for lunch and networking.

John Lewis Partnership director of customer delivery operations Mark Robinson will be the first speaker after the lunch break, taking to the stage at 12.30pm for his presentation, Ensuring your delivery strategy ensures customer satisfaction whilst still offering you ROI. Robinson will talk delegates through the ways of evaluating customer delivery strategies while bearing in mind the need to be profitable. He’ll ask what the implications of changing delivery strategies are for organisations and how to identify the most effective key performance indicators.

The sponsor’s keynote presentation, at 1.05pm, will be on Increasing sales through effective omnichannel stock management strategies.

Then Peter Louden, project director of Doddle, the new Network Rail initiative to offer station-based parcel shops open to all carriers and retailers, is the next speaker at 1.40pm. During his half-hour presentation, Doddle: an innovation in parcel pick up and drop off, Louden will update the audience on developments.

The conference closes with a panel discussion, followed by a question and answer session. Speakers in What will operations and logistics look like in 2016 as omnichannel retailing develops, include Joe Murray, co-chief executive of Worldstores , Mark Robinson, director of customer operations at the John Lewis Partnership, and Mark Starsmore, services and development manager at the Disney Store’s ecommerce operation. The conference closes with the chair’s final comments at 3pm.

The Operations and Logistics Conference takes place on Thursday March 27, from 10.30am to 3pm. It is one of six conferences that form part of IRX 2014, which runs at the NEC in Birmingham on March 26 and 27. Find out about the other conferences and other highlights of the event at

In coming weeks we’ll be focusing in more depth on different aspects of IRX 2014, and interviewing key speakers from the conference for a taste of what they will be sharing with our visitors.

In the meantime, find out more about the event and register for free at

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