An Exclusive interview with the President of Packair Airfreight, Inc. and Packair Customs Brokers, Inc., Mrs. Sussan Sharifian, who has been a pioneer of International Transportation and has years of experience in the logistics industry. Mrs. Sharifian is known internationally for her expertise and business acumen. Packair is an international logistics company having pan global presence and a strong worldwide network, offering logistics solutions in various segments of the sector.Q. How and when was your company started? How has the journey so far been?
Sharifian: The Company was formed in the year 1973 with an aim to provide quality service in various segments of Logistics. The journey so far has been very interesting, challenging and rewarding.Q. Packair is recognized as a leader in International Freight Forwarding, are you focusing on specialization in this particular aspect? How do you plan to position yourself in the market?
Sharifian: It is flattering when someone says that we are the leaders in the freight forwarding industry, but we feel that there is a long way to go in this segment of logistics. There is lot that can be done in terms of developing linkages in the infrastructure nationally and internationally and make the freight handling more seamless. We will continue to focus on this segment and position our self as a first choice forwarder/broker for our customers.Q. The logistics market is crowded with players of all sizes offering cut-throat competition, how have you managed these challenges? What differentiates you from the rest of the competition?
Sharifian: In context, price is one of the important driving factors when it comes to buying of a product or a service. We have tried very hard to keep our services very competitive and simultaneously focused on improving the quality of our services to make them more reliable and dependable, so that our customers continue to use us for being competitive in prices and consistent in services. Our endeavor is to continuously learn and adapt, which means the focus remains on constant and continuous unlearning, learning & relearning. This results in enhancing customer experience through creation of value. Finding the most efficient and effective way to analyze and develop customer intelligence is a vital part of our customer care initiative. We understand that providing quality service by increasing operational efficiency has a direct correlation to the value we can offer to our clients. Our clients depend on us to provide the highest quality and we are pleased that, we have been able to satisfy them to a large extent. We believe we can deliver a significant competitive advantage to our customers with our unique and focused solutions.Q. What trends are you seeing with regards to the logistics sector and its strategic importance? How has it evolved over the last decade?
Sharifian: The trend in the logistics sector has been to outsource, more and more companies are focusing on manufacturing and sales which is their core competence. In fact, the large transnational companies are now concentrating only on product development, quality control and marketing, all other activities like manufacturing, warehousing and distribution are being outsourced. We see very good opportunities for growth for the freight forwarding companies, the opportunities are available for logistics companies to explore and execute. Moreover, we have seen significant shift in business policy from market share concept to customer satisfaction and retention concept.Q. The Logistics sector is yet to be conferred industry status; do you think this will happen by this budget or near future? What kind of impact on the inflow of investments do you perceive it will bring about?
Sharifian: Not having an industry status for Logistics is a major hindrance to its growth internationally, we still do not seem to be giving deserved importance to Logistics. Efficient logistic systems cut down costs of transporting the goods from the point of manufacturing to the point of sale. Retail companies are still not giving due importance to logistics; it has been widely perceived that the retail sector will be allowed foreign investment in this budget, that will lead to lot of foreign companies coming in who in turn will require professional logistic service providers. The foreign investments will come in, but that will be in terms of equipment manufacturing, we have already seen large truck manufacturers like Man, Leyland and Volvo setting up manufacturing facilities in India, we will continue to see more cargo handling and container handling equipment companies setting up manufacturing globally. Q. There is a dearth of quality manpower in the logistics sector, how does your company tackle this problem? What kind of initiatives have you undertaken to address the issue?
Sharifian: There is a huge supply gap in untrained manpower in the logistics sector resulting in high level of inefficiencies. Because of the skill deficiency among operational staff, supervisors and managers the logistics sector is finding it difficult to shrug off the inefficiencies. The evolving business environment is creating a strong demand for quality and efficient logistics services, and with logistics being a service oriented sector, skilled manpower emerges as a key capability. At Packair, use of technology, continuous training of manpower and constant monitor of Key Performance Indicators is how we have been addressing the issue.Q. Logistics involves several activities that require considerable co-ordination and interaction. There are still activities that have not been automated; what are the challenges faced by you in these areas and how do you deal with it?
Sharifian: We have EDI linkages with all our overseas agents, we are already submitting our manifest to customs in electronic format and are ready for Ice gate 1.5, we have a full e-commerce module and inventory management platform, fully transparent and can be accessed by any device (mobile ready) for our customers to easily access live inventory, utilize reporting functions, and proactively arrange for subsequent shipments.Q. How important is information technology vis-a-vis logistics?
Sharifian: It is very important as with IT we are able to give visibility, we always say that the status of the cargo to a customer is like the whereabouts of a child to the mother; we can effectively give the visibility and comfort to the customer through use of IT. IT also cut down wastage in the process and makes the transaction faster.Q. What are the challenges faced by the logistics sector and how can companies address them? How do you see the scenario five years hence?
Sharifian: The challenges faced by the International Freight Forwarding companies are keeping up with the changes in the industry. Increasing globalization of businesses lead business owners to expect global standard services to be available to them, so the International Freight Forwarding companies have to fast adopt to international standards to cater to the changing business requirements.Q. What are Packair's future plans?
Sharifian: Packair is very excited to announce its new home by the end of 2017 to kickstart 2018 operations out of a much larger facility with much improved capabilities and new service offerings that are increasing in demand. Packair is continuing to provide its service excellence to new sectors and establish footings in new industries.