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Ever since communities across the country began quarantining in early 2020, online shopping has become a way of life for many consumers. Faced with supply shortages and social distancing guidelines that restrict the number of consumers in a bricks-and-mortar store at any given time, online delivery services and online retailers such as Amazon are booming. But while these increases have been a boon to many online retailers, despite these sales increases, other, often-smaller retailers have struggled to provide satisfactory last-mile services to their customers. In an Amazon Prime world, many consumers expect fast, free (or low cost) and totally transparent shipping—but that’s not always possible. Unfortunately, this can damage a retailer’s reputation—and their chance at repeat sales. Hence, this is why last-mile services matter. 

But what are last-mile services, and who are the best providers of these services? Here’s what you need to know about the importance of last-mile for your business.

What are Last-Mile Services?

Last-mile services initially got their name from the telecommunications industry, where the last-mile referred to the challenges faced by telecom providers connecting homes to their main networks. Today, while last-mile issues still do exist in telecom, they also exist in logistics: namely, in getting merchandise into the customer’s hands.  

The “last mile” of service occurs in the final stages of your product’s journey—after your merchandise is manufactured and warehoused, and once the customer’s order is placed. From there, the merchandise must be pulled and packed and finally shipped and delivered. That shipping and delivery is what they refer to as last-mile service, and it comes at a cost. In fact, that cost can often compose more than half of an order’s total shipping cost, including the price of labor and shipping supplies. In fact, last-mile service is generally the most expensive part of an order’s journey. It also takes the most time. This can make last-mile shipping a big expense for smaller retailers trying to go toe-to-toe with the Amazons of the world, who often have their own logistics fleets and also utilize local carriers for faster deliveries. 

This issue is known as the “last mile problem” or the thorny issues of high shipping costs, slower-than-desired shipping speeds, and yet another big wrinkle: tracking difficulties. You see, even with a tracking number, tracking through some carriers often leaves much to be desired. With slow-to-update tracking numbers, delays and inaccuracies, customers are often left frustrated and unwilling to do business with you again.

So, how do you solve the last-mile problem? The answer lies in your last-mile delivery service.

Solving the Last Mile Problem

When it comes to last-mile providers, you have many choices. From couriers to smaller, local logistics companies, to larger household-names, who you choose to provide your last-mile service matters.

1) Higher Costs

Generally speaking, the larger the order volume, the lower the rates you can expect from your last-mile provider. While smaller 3PLs try to stay competitive, their efforts are often thwarted by higher fuel costs and delivery issues, such as having to return to a delivery stop multiple times to gain a signature. Thankfully, however, there are exceptions to this rule. Sometimes, smaller 3PLs can negotiate fair rates with your business, enabling you to ship your merchandise in a cost-effective manner. However, this works best if your deliveries are mostly local.

2) Delivery Times

Speaking of delivery times, this is yet another big issue faced in last-mile delivery. From far-spaced rural routes to jam-packed city streets, 3PLs can sometimes struggle with even getting to your customer’s front door simply due to time constraints caused by these problems. This can delay a shipment, causing customer frustration, which of course hurts your chances for repeat business.

3) Tracking Technology

When it comes down to how to make your last-mile services more efficient, the bottom line can often be the technology used by your last-mile provider. Third-party logistics providers such as FedEx, DHL and UPS all have their own tracking systems and proprietary software that allows for not just internal efficiencies, but for the transparency for your customers to track their orders. This improves customer experience and, naturally, customer satisfaction.

Last-Mile Providers

To better understand just what a last-mile provider truly does, here are some unique providers and what they’re doing to help your business.

Haultail. A new delivery service available in many markets across the U.S., Haultail uses its own app to allow customers to schedule their local pickup or delivery via its network of certified drivers. Haultail can collect and deliver new items from retail stores, storage facilities or even homes, and deliver them, often faster than delivery services offered by mass retailers, giving smaller retailers a competitive edge and consumers higher overall satisfaction with their purchase.

TForce Logistics. With headquarters in both the U.S. and Canada, TForce Logistics boasts a network of more than 6,700 last-mile providers in every major city in America. The company offers everything from warehousing to reverse logistics of last-mile products and keeps customers in the loop about their product tracking via text message updates. TForce has also expanded their last-mile services into Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

CFI. Based in Mexico, CFI has recently expanded to Chicago with its first U.S. consolidation and distribution center, and plans for more locations across los Estados Unidos de América. This is a rare move, as in recent years the trend in 3PLs is to move away from Mexico. CFI, however, plans to remain in the country, offering international services, including last mile, on both sides of the border.

Dachser USA. To help customers navigate the unprecedented increase in online sales and the need for last-mile delivery, Dachser USA recently created a “dedicated customer solutions desk.” This new department is staffed by logistics industry experts and serves to help businesses of all sizes deal with unexpected issues such as shipping delays, drayage capacity issues and even demurrage charges, according to Guido Gries, managing director of Dascher Americas.

SEKO Logistics. Based in Itasca, Illinois, SEKO Logistics has responded to the COVID-19 crisis by working with businesses of all sizes that have been impacted by shutdowns of their regular logistics providers due to the coronavirus. SEKO has enacted its own COVID-19 policy, requiring PPE for drivers to protect both employees and customers, including the last-mile customer.

The Last Word in Last Mile

Ultimately, if you ship a product to a consumer or business, you’re probably going to need last-mile services. Whether you require local services and can partner with a smaller logistics company that can act nimbly and respond faster than larger delivery services, or you ship at a volume that enables you to benefit from reduced bulk shipping rates with a larger 3PL, choosing the right last-mile service can potentially save you money and help bolster customer satisfaction. 

When choosing your last-mile provider, look for bulk shipping rates, route consolidations and transparent tracking services. The important takeaway: Last-mile services shouldn’t be an afterthought. They are, in fact, a crucial step in your supply chain and can be the determining factor between a good transaction and a great one.

manufacturing business

5 Timesaving Tips for Your Manufacturing Business

As a manufacturing business, you are constantly looking to save time. Well, if you aren’t, then you should. This is because time, as they say, is money. This further suggests that the more time you save, the more money you will, too. Some manufacturing businesses often make the mistake of thinking that making huge and sudden changes is the way to go. This often is a terrible idea. The strategies that yield the best results are long-term term and incremental.

In this article, we show you some of the timesaving ideas to implement to better your business in the long run.

1. Complete Assessment

Even though you are looking just to save time, you still need to do a thorough assessment of your business. As a matter of principle, you should make a habit of doing a thorough assessment whenever you want to carry out any actions. When you take the time to look through the business’s entirety, you will realize how the different components work and how different processes affect your business.

While carrying out your assessment, consider global and industry standards. You may also want to check out the competition. However, do not be lost in studying the competition, neglecting the uniqueness of your own business. This is why the evaluation must be internal first before becoming external.

Afterward, you can make your plans. Having a complete view from the start helps you make cohesive plans. Set strategic goals and plans. How much time does it take to carry out a specific task? What amount from that time do you want to reduce? Working with specifics helps put things in a better perspective.

2. Focus on the Return on Investment (ROI)

Keeping an eye on the money can be a strategy to eliminate time waste. This is a strong point most businesses are paying attention to. Hence, manufacturing businesses, transportation, medical services, rentals, and leasing services all pay attention to how much they pull in within a specific timeframe.

When you focus on ROI, you will notice the areas that aren’t yielding returns. You will also observe processes that take more from the business than they give. You will then be able to eliminate those, freeing up your business to do better in the future.

3. Involve the Employees

No one knows your manufacturing business as well as your employees. That’s right, not even you. They can easily point out where the operational wastes are and identify the different practices that waste your business’s time and resources. Even more so, they can easily identify the solutions to any time-lags that your business experiences.

The reason for this knowledge is the fact that they have firsthand information about the business. In most cases, this hands-on experience puts them in a position to know much more about the business than you.

Sadly, a lot of manufacturing business owners fail to involve their employees in their assessment process. This could be because of a diversity of reasons, some peculiar to each business owner.

You may want to consult your employees to know how you could save time in the business. They would offer insight into strategies to implement for all stages of the manufacturing process.

The consultation need not be formal, although it could be. You could simply have an informal conversation over lunch with specific (key) members of your team. In fact, you could cut this out entirely and choose to observe the employees instead. Watching them carry out their regular operations could reveal strategies you have overlooked in the past.

Similarly, you can share this result with other team members. Incorporating great results from team members will ensure that the same operational standards are employed throughout the business.

Finally, consulting your employees benefits both you and them. It sends the idea that you are caring and empathetic. For the employees, they will continuously seek to improve. In the end, your business is the biggest winner.

4. Downsize and Outsource

Hoarding properties and resources will not benefit you. Also, having complicated systems and processes may seem ideal but actually just slows down your business’s pace. Hence, strive to keep your processes as simple as possible. Eliminate steps that are not useful or at least the ones whose time-consumption outweighs their usefulness.

Keep bureaucratic processes to the minimum. The beauty of non-government owned businesses is the emphasis on efficiency. Thus, when you notice that any aspect of the business slows down the system, eliminate such.

Furthermore, focus on the core of your manufacturing business. Having a ‘Jack of all trade” sort of outlook only hurts the business. Look through your business and identify your areas of strength and then focus on those. Outsource the others.

Outsourcing is increasingly becoming a very important tactic employed in the manufacturing business. Focusing on your core makes you specialized. In the same vein, you need to locate specialized businesses and outsource some of the process steps to them. This is crucial as it saves you time, leaving you free to focus on the areas that really matter. Some of the processes you could outsource include transportation,  machinery maintenance, consulting services, labor, etc.

5. Automation

With the world increasingly becoming digitalized, automation is often the way to go. AIs and robots are helping smoothen things over, increasing the efficiency of processes, and eliminating redundancy. Technology is constantly evolving, with different processes introduced to make businesses better.

Thus, you may want to identify repetitive processes and automate them. This is a great strategy to reduce the time spent in carrying out these actions while also saving costs. The aspects of the business that can be automated actually depends on your company. Granted, there are generally accepted processes that can be automated. However, you can take a look at your unique circumstances and fashion out the process or set of processes that you could eliminate or automate.


Your manufacturing business ought to constantly strive to be efficient, giving the best returns within the best short possible time. This can only be possible if redundant processes are eliminated. Seeking to save time helps you achieve a lot in the business while yielding revenue in the long run.


Theresa Cofield is a freelance writer who has a love for creativity and a passion for helping others. She works as a blogger where she covers the topics of esports and the gaming industry.


The Future of Retail – Is It Touchless?

Covid has made all of us more aware of what we touch in public spaces. And, as health concerns over Covid have now been with us for many months, new behaviors have become ingrained habits that are probably here to stay.

It’s no use trying to swim against this tide. Every retailer must take a fresh look at how their customers prefer to shop and make it easy for them to do so. Or they will risk losing their customers to competitors who give them what they want.

For most businesses that means an increasingly digital and multi-channel operation.

Pure play digital retailers have had the advantage in our new Covid world. They offer the ultimate touch-free solution and have established fulfillment routes, although some have struggled to cope with huge volume increases. High sales during the pandemic period have helped Amazon double their net profit this year to $5.2 billion and the recent Quarter 2 sales have been higher than the Christmas quarter of 2019.

Most digital-only retailers consider their biggest challenge to be the “final mile”, as it represents the most expensive and complex part of their process. If you turn this view on its head and look from the customer perspective, the biggest issue with online shopping is the first mile of the returns process. Whether you’ve got to go to a parcel office or designated drop off point, it’s just not as easy as ordering your items. Smart retailers are increasingly offering a returns pickup service. Physical retailers have the advantage of stores that create the opportunity for a convenient returns process for their customers and the possibility of an extra sale from the additional footfall for the retailer.

However, retailers that started with physical stores tend to be on the back foot when it comes to touchless and digital customer journeys. Some physical retailers have buried their heads in the sand and hoped the fad for touchless would pass over. These businesses are now struggling to remain viable as online research and purchase is an increasingly attractive customer proposition. Most store-based businesses offer a touchless route, however, yet only the sharpest have a truly integrated operation that allows customers to seamlessly move between multiple channels; whether instore, online, or via a call center.

So where should retailers focus to align themselves with entrenched touchless trends?

1. Payment instore is moving away from the system of customers queuing to pay a colleague at a till. The use of contactless cards, rather than chip and pin or cash, has become customers’ preferred option. It saves operational time instore as the payment itself is quicker and it reduces time spent handling hard cash.

But the real transformation in payment has been because of technology that helps skip the line altogether. Self-checkout tills have been around for years and are now being superseded by customer apps that enable self-scan and payment from your own device or a handset. Retailers are now juggling with a mix of payment methods that require new instore furniture, a revised front-end layout and different colleague cover models. The customer experience you deliver during payment creates a lasting impression that will influence where the customer chooses to shop in the future.

2. Digital fulfillment via stores, whether kerbside collection or picking up a Click and Collect parcel instore, is a moment of truth that really matters to busy customers expecting an efficient experience. It took me 45 minutes to retrieve my grocery order by kerbside collection at one store, and I couldn’t just drive away as I had already paid for my shopping. The store’s errors were not having enough colleagues to match the number of booked pickups and the collection point being a long way from their storage bay, so it took ages to wheel the order over. They sound easy to avoid, yet these seemingly simple to solve problems happen more often than you’d hope. Follow the simple rules of match your resource to the order numbers, keep the storage and collection points close to minimize travel time, and make sure your colleagues are trained on your process and you’ll drive both online and instore sales

3. Map all your customer journeys and make sure there aren’t any missing. For returns, for example, does the customer have multiple options or are you restricting them to just returning to one physical location? Many retailers have realized they need new customer journeys and Covid has spurred them on to make changes in weeks that were previously under consideration for months and even years. Don’t get left behind because there will always be a competitor willing to look after your customers better than you do.

4. Review every stage of every journey and check it is smooth for your customers and as efficient as possible for your operation. It is likely that you will have work to do to integrate your physical and digital routes, which is a driver for digital investment. KPMG’s research over the pandemic period for its Enterprise Reboot report found that 59% of executives say the pandemic has created the impetus to accelerate their digital transformation.

5. If you invest in technology to help your touchless journey, whether that is new kiosk payment or RFID stock systems to reduce counts instore and help you publish accurate stock numbers to customers shopping online, make sure you consider how your operating model needs to flex to accommodate the technology. For example, adding self-checkout tills reduces the cover needed on traditional tills, yet you must decide the model you will use to support customers at self-checkout tills when they need help. Dodgy scales, systems that can’t cope with coupons and difficult to use customer interfaces all drive increased requirement for colleague interventions and annoy customers. Consider too, how you target and incentivize your store teams to make sure they drive the right behaviors. If helping a customer with an online order doesn’t help towards a team’s sales target or returns are netted off the daily sales total, the store team is unlikely to go out of their way to make things easy for the customer.

Touchless retail is already here. How you adapt to it and evolve your operation as customer habits and preferences continue to change will determine how successful you are.


Article by Simon Hedaux, founder and CEO of Rethink Productivity, a world leading productivity partner which helps businesses to drive efficiency, boost productivity and optimise budgets. For more information see

inventory management

10 Experts Share Tips For Better Inventory Management

Think about the online stores you buy from regularly. Do they consistently have the product you want? If the answer is no, then the business likely doesn’t have as good control of its inventory as it should. Inventory management is at the heart of any well-run, sustainable retail business. 

When a retail store owner or manager doesn’t have a detailed understanding of the inventory they have in hand, they’ll be greatly constrained in their ability to make smart reorder decisions. They cannot list items with accuracy on their online store since they don’t have correct visibility into their inventory. They could easily get stuck with too much inventory or fail to fulfil orders due to lack of product. 

If you want to get inventory management right, you’ll do well to listen to what the experts have to say. Here are 10 paraphrased tips from people who know a thing or two about successful inventory management.

1. Update inventory records in real-time and make the information available to relevant staff – Jonathan Gaunt, Managing Director, FD-WORKS

To stay a step ahead of their competition, businesses have to move quickly and accurately. Access to fresh, correct information is key in this regard. 

In the context of inventory management, tracking when the last transaction occurred, for instance, is crucial. There are costs to holding dead inventory such as warehousing, cleaning and security. Some products are seasonal or trendy. If it’s been weeks or months since a certain product sold or if there has been a dramatic decrease in its turnover, it might be financially prudent to sell it at a loss and inject the resulting revenue into an item that’s currently hot.

2. Categorize your inventory – Dan Schmidt, founder and CEO, The Emerging Business CFO

All products in your inventory aren’t created equal. If you devote equal inventory management time and resources to each product, you’ll be running overkill on some while shortchanging others. To maximize your inventory dollars and increase efficiency, divide your inventory into several categories depending on turnover, profitability and other distinguishing factors. 

3. Weigh the costs of inventory against the benefits of inventory – International Purchasing and Supply Chain Management Institute (IPSCMI)

Successful inventory management comes down to your ability to constantly balance the costs of holding inventory against the benefits of the inventory. Small and medium-sized ecommerce stores can be especially vulnerable to miscalculating the real cost of carrying an inventory. It’s not just the money tied down in inventory but also storage, insurance and taxes.

4. Inventory requirements vary from business to business – Norm Saenz, Managing Director and Don Derewecki, Senior Consultant at St. Onge

Whereas there are principles that underpin inventory management best practices, inventory management procedures will vary depending on customer requirements and the types of products the e-commerce store sells. There will be variation in inventory management between pharmaceuticals, food, apparel, electronics, furniture, stationery, automotive, building materials and general merchandise stores. 

5. Use effective methods for calculating safety stock levels – Bain & Company, Inc.

Are you using statistical formulas that incorporate production lead times, sales forecasts, manufacturing schedules and each product’s service-level data? Or are you still using rigid rules such as all products from a certain manufacturer requiring 20 days of safety stock? 

The problem with rigid rules is that they are often applied to products with uncertain delivery histories. Use a standard or automated statistical formula that extracts historical individual product data in order to come up with an up-to-date safety stock level.

6. Align individual delivery sub-elements with overall objectives – Mani Iyer, Senior Business Manager, Genpact

Ecommerce stores often believe that order-to-delivery cycle time reduction would realize the competitive edge their business needs. However, many drop the ball when it comes to defining goals of individual cycle elements that contribute to overall lead time adherence. Inventory management must incorporate sub-targets such as supplier performance management on fulfillment, customer service satisfaction, working capital levels and more.

7. Keep customer satisfaction at the centre of inventory control – James Ellis, Assistant Professor, Business Department, Central Oregon Community College

Avoiding excess inventory is certainly a desirable goal. However, getting overly fixated on minimizing inventory levels can take away your attention from the thing that matters most of all—customer satisfaction. If the inventory is running too low or running out, that will lead to lost sales and, ultimately, lost customers. Therefore, inventory levels should constantly be compared to customer satisfaction levels.

8. Put one person in charge of inventory management – David Wheat, Materials Manager, Krausz USA

Many ecommerce stores are small enough to be a one-person operation. However, if your business has grown to the extent that you have 2 or more full-time staff, assign the role of purchasing and inventory manager to one person. The designated individual should keep track of inventory and be the first person informed if there’s any change in supply requirements. They’ll negotiate discounts for volume purchases or early invoice payment.

9. Invest in inventory management training – Jaymison Haeussler, Warehouse manager, Graphic Packaging

#1 is absolute attention to detail when training and developing your inventory management staff and system. In several different scenarios, I’ve seen excellent staff and processes fall short of their goals because the training and implementation weren’t cohesive.

It’s hard to row a boat across the ocean when everyone is paddling in different directions.

10. Incorporate lead times for your peak sales seasons – Andrew Chritton, Head of Account Management, Stitch Labs

Most businesses have a seasonality to their sales. Q4 is crucial for many ecommerce stores thanks to the holiday season but different stores will have different peaks depending on the product they sell and the market they sell to. The peak season is critical for many businesses ‘ annual profitability so careful planning and management of inventory are needed. 

If you don’t own your means of transportation, which is the case for the overwhelming majority of ecommerce stores, transfers and shipping of products can be unpredictable. Build lead times early into your peak season inventory for shipping optimization and to ensure products are available in sufficient quantities.

11. Implement Inventory sync, Chris Crane, Advisor, Excelsior Integrated

Startups often run lean with minimal software layers. These companies should check which channels they can sync inventory to, or just rely on manually setting inventory themselves. For larger merchants with many sales channels, keeping inventory in sync across them all can become a challenge. When a sale happens on one channel, you want the other channels to be aware of it. Plus, if you’re selling with Amazon and using FBA, you’re responsible for maintaining enough inventory so you can quickly replenish FBA. There’s a point at which channel complexity justifies adopting an ERP system. Look for one that can handle inventory syncing to all your possible future channels, and if you’re using a 3PL, make sure they can integrate to it. 


Will Schneider is the founder of insightQuote, a match-making service for B2B services, and writes informative posts about fulfillment services at He is passionate about helping businesses find the right solutions to improve their operations. When not working, Will enjoys coaching youth basketball.



Online Buyer Beware

U.S. consumers spent over $600 billion dollars with U.S. merchants online in 2019. For consumers, online shopping is enticing for its convenience. With credit card in hand, shoppers can easily compare prices, make a purchase, and have the products shipped directly to their homes. The ability to sell online has transformed the ways in which manufacturers, shippers and retailers conduct business.

The evolution from brick and mortar to online stores has also made it more convenient for illegitimate businesses and criminals to pass off counterfeit products, which has attracted the attention of the U.S. government. Since November 2019, a flurry of government activity has focused on protecting consumers in the e-commerce environment.

Trade in fake goods 3.3 percent of world trade

Political Hue and Cry

The Senate Finance Committee examined online counterfeit goods last November when it issued a bipartisan report highlighting two key fact findings: U.S. businesses have difficulties preventing the sale of counterfeit goods online, and e-commerce platforms have no affirmative obligation to police counterfeit goods listings or to proactively remove suspected counterfeit items.

In January, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a report titled Combating Trafficking in Counterfeit and Pirated Goods, in which DHS found that e-commerce has contributed to a shift in the sale of counterfeit goods in the United States. As consumers increasingly purchase goods online, counterfeiters are increasingly producing a wider variety of goods that may be sold on websites alongside authentic products. The report adds that American consumers shopping on e-commerce platforms and online third-party marketplaces now face a significant risk of purchasing counterfeit or pirated goods.

A week after the release of the DHS report, the White House issued an Executive Order “Ensuring Safe and Lawful E-Commerce for U.S. Consumers, Businesses, Government Supply Chains, and Intellectual Property Rights Holders”. The Order implicates express carriers and the international postal system as contributing to the problem of imports of contraband and counterfeit goods.

American brands 24 percent of fake products seized

House Bill 6058, the SHOP SAFE Act of 2020, was introduced in early March in the House of Representatives. The bill proposes to impose contributory trademark infringement liability on e-commerce platforms unless they take steps specified in the legislation. The legislation received immediate support from several prominent industry associations.

The American Apparel & Footwear Association’s CEO stated that “more needs to be done to prevent counterfeit products from unknowingly entering the homes of American families.” In support of the bill, the CEO of the Personal Care Products Council stated that “counterfeit personal care products damage businesses, disregard regulatory protection and more importantly threaten consumers’ health and safety,” adding the Council encourages “Congress to establish a system that makes online marketplaces and others responsible for ensuring that products on their platforms comply with U.S. laws and regulations”.

Two days later, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) stated that the convenience of e-commerce “has come at a devastating price: a proliferation of dangerous counterfeit goods that endanger consumers and property, and an army of counterfeit merchants from overseas that undermine American small businesses with unscrupulous tactics.”

Counterfeit medicines

Hiding on Plain Sites

In general, the owners of intellectual property (copyrights, trademarks, patents) have had a lot to say about the online platforms and marketplaces that host e-commerce. As summarized in the Senate Finance Committee’s report, e-commerce platforms place the burden of policing and enforcing intellectual property (IP) on the IP owners, suggesting they do not have a duty to police counterfeit listings or proactively remove suspected counterfeit goods from platforms.

The proposed SHOP SAFE Act of 2020 would place a greater burden on platforms. By taking steps outlined in the legislation, platforms would be able to avoid liability for IP violations.

During the week the SHOP SAFE Act was introduced and a hearing held to address the issue of e-commerce threats to consumers and the economy, a technology company, PreClear, announced it is using “technology that pushes out the border and prevents infringing goods and potentially harmful goods from being exported to the U.S.” PreClear’s founder is quoted as saying that the technology is in use 24/7 and rejects thousands of non-compliant items daily.

There is no doubt that the sheer volume of infringing and other non-compliant merchandise available to consumers on the internet begs for a solution. The question is whether protection and enforcement begin after the items are in the stream of commerce in the United States or before the items ship to the United States. One of the missing variables in the trade policy equation remains how to prevent infringing items from leaving the country of origin in the first instance.


Tim Trainer was an attorney-advisor at the U.S. Customs Service and U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. He is a past president of the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition. Tim is now the principal at Global Intellectual Property Strategy Center, P.C., and Galaxy Systems, Inc.

This article originally appeared on Republished with permission.


5 Ways To Improve Your Training and Achieve Measurable Business Results

U.S. companies spend billions of dollars a year on training, but how many of those businesses are seeing positive, measurable results from such a large investment in their employees?

Not enough of them, studies and experts say. One study on workplace training reported that 43 percent of employees found their training to be ineffective.

“I doubt that many employees would rate their training as engaging, rigorous, or highly effective,” says Dr. Jim Guilkey (, author of M-Pact Learning: The New Competitive Advantage — What All Executives Need To Know. “For most trainees and trainers alike, job-required education is viewed as a necessary evil.”

So how can companies train their employees better and from that training produce outcomes that grow the business? Dr. Guilkey says it comes down to employing effective instructional design methodologies rather than traditional models.

“Traditional training often doesn’t work for companies today in competitive marketplace environments where growth is essential to survival,” he says. “The training is usually developed and delivered by subject-matter experts who have little or no knowledge of instructional design. Assessments test rote memorization rather than the ability to apply specific knowledge in authentic situations.”

Dr. Guilkey suggests some new learning solutions and why he thinks they’re more effective than traditional training methods:

Problem-based. “Problem-based learning involves a strategic approach of structuring the learning process within authentic, challenging, and multidisciplinary problems the learner must address,” Guilkey says. “This results in higher levels of learning than content-based, traditional training, which teaches content with little or no application to authentic, real-world problems.”

Continuous learning. “As opposed to singular-event learning, continuous learning is an ongoing process that allows learners time in the field to assimilate  and apply new knowledge before learning more advanced concepts,” Guilkey says.

Collaborative learning. A variety of interactions between peers, mentors, and facilitators fills in gaps, answers more questions, and reinforces the learning process. “This differs from the traditional method in which the learning is limited by focusing on the lecturer — a one-way transmission of content,” Guilkey says.

Multidisciplinary. The traditional approach focuses on singular concepts presented in a linear fashion, whereas the multidisciplinary approach “requires participants to combine and correlate learning across concepts and use real-life scenarios,” Guilkey says.

Testing for application of knowledge. Guilkey thinks assessment should be based on the performance of a strategic task, in which learners apply their skills and knowledge, rather than the traditional style of testing for rote memorization. “There’s a huge difference between being able to recall pieces of information and having a performance-based measurement to put all the pieces together,” Guilkey says.

“Many company leaders are unclear on the actual skills and knowledge of their employees and whether they are providing a competitive advantage,” Guilkey says. “You’ll never create a competitive advantage using traditional training methods.”


Jim Guilkey, PhD ( is the author of M-Pact Learning: The New Competitive Advantage — What All Executives Need To Know. He is the president of S4 NetQuest and a nationally recognized expert in instructional design and learning strategy, with extensive experience in leading the design, development, and implementation of innovative, highly effective learning solutions. Under his leadership, S4 NetQuest has transformed the learning programs for numerous corporations, including Johnson & Johnson, McDonald’s, Merck, Nationwide, Chase Bank, BMW, Cardinal Health, Domino’s, GE Medical, Kaiser Permanente, Yum! Brands, and others. Guilkey is a frequent speaker at national conferences and corporate training meetings. Before co-founding S4 NetQuest, Guilkey served as the assistant director of flight education at The Ohio State University. He received a BS in aviation and an MA and PhD in instructional design and technology from Ohio State.


Kinedyne Confirms Prattville Expansion Ready for Operations

Global cargo control technologies provider, Kinedyne shows no signs of slowing down offering its competitive and consolidated transportation-focused solutions portfolio. The company released information this week confirming the newest Prattville distribution center is fully operational and equipped to support the company’s efforts to improve order processing, lead time and accuracy thanks to advanced technology.

“With over 20 years of experience in operational strategy and global manufacturing, Doug Apelt, vice president – operations, oversees all operational processes in the United States and Canada,” Dan Schlotterbeck, president of Kinedyne LLC, said. “Doug’s operational expertise and leadership of the Prattville team has benefited this expansion initiative and continues to strengthen and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our overall North American operations.”

Kinedyne launched a different approach in operations in 2016 by combining engineering, manufacturing, quality control, supply chain management, customer service and government contract into operations. Boasting several decades and 300 employees in Prattville, the company is also recognized as one of the largest employers for Autauga County. Beyond Prattville, Kinedyne’s footprint spans across a robust network throughout the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, all of which offer the company’s full line of cargo control, capacity and access products.

“This is an exciting opportunity for us to further improve operational integrity through process control and technological advancements,” Doug Apelt, vice president – operations for Kinedyne LLC, said. “Employees and customers will each enjoy the advantages generated by the additional facility, and it positions Kinedyne to successfully manage its customers’ expectations and our own future growth objectives.”


South Carolina Confirmed for DHL Commerce Park

Q1 2020 is the official completion date set for one of the three buildings to make up the DHL Commerce Park in Dorchester County, South Carolina. The company confirmed last week the $100 million investment will comprise of three buildings making up the entirety of DHL Commerce Park, creating a massive warehouse and distribution park spanning 1.7 million square feet to support efforts focused on port-related logistics.

“We have seen significant growth in this area of the country and customers are even asking us to evaluate opportunities in South Carolina specifically,” said Steve Hess, Vice President, Real Estate Development, DHL Supply Chain. “With that in mind, we got ahead of the curve to offer premier facilities in one of the hottest emerging markets in the country.”

An estimated 450 jobs are projected to come from the investment as the completion and opening of DHL Commerce Park will be done in phases. DHL Real Estate Solutions is a standalone product directly involved in the production of the project by providing specific real estate solutions.

“South Carolina Ports Authority is seeing significant distribution center and warehousing activity in our region, driven by port users who rely on our marine and inland facilities to handle growing import volumes bound for consumers across the Southeast,” said Jim Newsome, SCPA president and CEO. “DHL Supply Chain will play an important role in supporting the logistics needs of multiple port-related business segments, and we look forward to the opening of their new facility.”

“With a favorable geographic location and robust port and infrastructure assets, South Carolina offers unparalleled global connectivity,” said Bobby Hitt, South Carolina Secretary of Commerce. “This $100 million investment by DHL Supply Chain is a testament to our unique ability to move products around the world, and I congratulate this great company on this tremendous announcement.”

IKEA ‘Powers Up’ Pennsylvania Distribution Center

Conshohocken, PA –IKEA has plugged-in an expansion of the solar array atop its Perryville, Maryland distribution center, the state’s largest such solar energy system.

Installation of the new panels began Fall 2013, and since then have nearly doubled the size of the original project, which already was the state’s largest rooftop array.

The 467,618-square-foot solar addition consists of a 2.2-MW system, built with 7,337 modules, and will produce 2.7 kWh of electricity annually.

Including the existing system, the 1.7 million-square foot distribution center’s total 4.9-MW solar installation of 25,913 panels now generating enough electricity to power 591 homes.

For the development, design and installation of the Perryville distribution center’s original and expanded solar power system, IKEA contracted with Indiana-based Inovateus Solar LLC, a distributor and integrator specializing in large-scale solar installations.

IKEA US has solar arrays atop 90% of its locations, has announced plans to purchase 49 wind turbines in Illinois, and has rolled-out EV charging stations at 13 stores.

In 2014, IKEA achieved its goal of completing solar installations atop nearly 90 percent of its US buildings (39 out of 44 locations), with a generation goal of 38 MW.

The Swedish company owns and operates each of its solar PV energy systems – as opposed to a solar lease or PPA (power purchase agreement) – and globally has allocated $1.8 billion to invest in renewable energy through 2015.

IKEA’s corporate strategy includes the goal of being energy independent by 2020. The company has installed more than 550,000 solar panels on buildings across the world and owns/operates approximately 157 wind turbines in Europe and Canada.

There are currently more than 350 IKEA stores in 44 countries, including 38 in the US.