Rafay Ishfaq, assistant professor in Supply Chain Management at the Harbert College of Business, has been appointed to serve on the FedEx E-commerce Executive Board for a two-year
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
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.