The 20-member advisory board will meet semi-annually to discuss industry trends, supply chain needs, and research and business opportunities for FedEx.
“I am working with my colleagues in the (Harbert College) supply chain program on research projects that are related to many of the same issues which interest corporate members of this board,” said Ishfaq. “There is a direct connection between my research and the objectives of the FedEx Executive Board. In the meetings, I will suggest different ways in which academia and businesses can collaborate to respond to today’s supply chain challenges, in areas such as order fulfillment, distribution management and transportation planning.”
Ishfaq identified a number of challenges e-commerce presents in today’s business world, specifically omni-channel retailing, where customers can purchase items in the store, online or via mail catalogue. He also cited inventory placement, order delivery, product returns and technology, which enables efficient and effective supply chain management, as challenges that need to be met.
“The solutions needed for these challenges are multi-faceted and requires multi-disciplinary approaches,” he said. “The broad availability of high-speed internet and the technological advancements in electronic devices (smart phones and tablets) has enabled an increasing number of customers to buy products on the internet. U.S. Department of Commerce reported that the average quarterly online retail sales have been increasing around 10 to 12 percent, a trend that has continued for many years now.”
Ishfaq is one of two academics on the mostly retail-centric board.
“Auburn University’s Supply Chain Management program has an international reputation for excellence in research and education,” he said. “This forum will provide another opportunity for our Supply Chain Management program to have a close link with industry leaders. Getting first-hand knowledge of the challenges facing supply chain practitioners helps us engage in cutting-edge research.”
Recently, Ishfaq’s paper “Hub location-allocation in intermodal logistic networks” earned the EURO Award for Best EJOR (European Journal of Operational Research) Research Paper. The award will be presented to Ishfaq and co-author Charles R. Sox of the University of Alabama, at the International Federation of Operational Research Societies conference in Barcelona, Spain, July 13-18.