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Monday, May 5, 2014

UPU News : Scrutinizing every link of the supply chain

For an item to be successfully transmitted from the sender to the addressee, it needs to go through several critical steps that are part of the postal supply chain. These steps include not only Posts but also partners such as customs authorities and airlines. In a world where speed of service and reliability are paramount to customers, ensuring that the global supply chain is as effective as possible is central to Jean-Paul Forceville’s mandate as chairman of the Postal Operation Council’s committee 1 (supply chain integration), set up by the Doha Congress to strengthen mail processing procedures and provide customers with unparalleled quality of service.

What specific challenges does your committee face?
Our first challenge is to meet stakeholders' needs in the areas of customs, air security and transport, which cut across each other. Until 2016, we have to prepare thoroughly for the Istanbul Congress in a segment undergoing rapid change.
It’s a challenge, since the fluidity of our postal supply chain, which we are continuously trying to improve, comes up against public authorities’ legitimate demands for better security. For example, Customs and airlines want to know whether Posts are carrying dangerous goods, and how they are checking this. Lithium batteries are a case in point, with strong restrictions still in effect today. 

How can Posts respond to the needs of Customs and airlines?
Posts need to work with Customs and carriers to set up effective advance information mechanisms, to reassure parties involved and enable Posts to remain suppliers of choice. From there, other essential elements of the supply chain must be considered (addressing, accounting, standards). Our postal procedures must inspire confidence, in particular with carriers and customs agencies. 

Why and how does supply chain integration play a role in improving quality of service for both Posts and customers?
Quality of service is at the top of the transport, addressing and security agendas. There is no point in providing e-retailers with excellent service if the parcels are then blocked for 10 days by Customs.
In this connection, we work closely with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to ensure that international postal traffic moves smoothly. In addition to working hand-in-hand with the airlines, we need to continue to improve addressing, in particular the international S42 standard, to boost quality of service for both Posts and customers.  
Each Post is a separate entity, and the origin Post often provides a service for which another Post is responsible at destination, in a different country; this is why it is important to integrate the various supply chain and postal network stakeholders. 

How can Posts involve customers in improving the postal supply chain?
That’s an interesting question. Posts will have to rely increasingly on customers if quality of service is to be maintained or improved.
In the case of addressing, provided the customer addresses the item correctly, the quality of service is clearly improved at destination, regardless of whether the customer is an individual or a business.
In the case of transport, the requirements for completing customs and legal documents relating to international parcels are becoming increasingly stringent, and Posts need to make their customers more responsible in order to improve the quality of service they get back.
The customer is sometimes a private individual and sometimes a professional or e-retailer. Therefore, we need to respond to a wide range of needs; our procedures must be legible and confidence-inspiring. 
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