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Ian Kerr

Berlin's famous Funkhaus was the venue for the DELIVER #2 conference, held on 27 and 28 June.

The Funkhaus was East Germany's central radio station during the Cold War. We were hanging out in the former garages, which have been stripped back to create a large exhibition space.

It was by far the coolest venue for a postal/delivery conference in the history of the world. The venue staff had a sense of Berlin schick that made me feel like an interloper at a very on trend art exhibition opening.

A view of the main exhibition

A view of the main exhibition

The event seemed focused on connecting e-commerce retailers, shippers, and innovators. Delivery and reverse logistics startups were featured in the exhibition hall, alongside robotics, warehousing and tech companies.

The strongest conference session by far featured speakers from Amazon, eBay, Wayfair, and Zalando. You can hear my interview with Amazon's Rohit Sodha in episode 72. My interview with eBay's Tom Allason will be online in the coming weeks.

For all its hip glory, the venue did present some acoustic problems for the event organisers. And the toilet facilities were more rock festival than business conference.

One of the exhibition highlights was a drone flying perilously close to high voltage power lines outside the main entrance. I was willing the drone to touch the power lines and make a fiery descent into the Spree, but it wasn't to be.

DELIVER #2 also saw the official inauguration of the EU co-funded platform on e-Logistics services DELIVER IN EUROPE ( DELIVER IN EUROPE is a free service listing vendors and enabling e-retailers to source their e-Logistics service providers in Europe. 

And what's a conference these days without an awards ceremony? DELIVER #2 had five awards up for grabs, which (somewhat unsurprisingly) were all won by companies exhibiting at the conference. The awards were voted on by e-retailers at the conference (no votes for media, alas!) using the conference's own mobile app.

  • URBANTZ won the Rising Star award as the most promising startup.
  • DS SMITH won the Sustainability award, for the company with highest environmental achievements.
  • WHAT3WORDS won the Cool Vendor award, which rewards the company wearing the neatest clothes at the conference. And also for being the most respected brand with inspiring services. (No, I wasn't sure what the award was for either, but congratulations anyway!)
  • DPD GROUP won the Customer Experience award, which at least is a self-explanatory award category.
  • WHAT3WORDS also won the Game Changer award, for the company whose innovation has the potential to disrupt the industry.
The food was first rate

The food was first rate

At lunch time a horde of illustrated serving staff distributed tray after tray of fine food. There were a number of networking opportunities during the conference, including communal self-serve coffee stations, and the queue for bus transfers. I returned with a bag full of business cards - and not my own!

The social highlight of the event was the evening cocktail and dinner function by the banks of the River Spree. The sun took an age to set, soaking us in warm dusk light, as native German techno beats boomed from the speakers. (Along with a couple of obligatory Gary Numan tracks.)

Where all the cool kids were hanging out. I'm somewhere in the background, getting more food.

Where all the cool kids were hanging out. I'm somewhere in the background, getting more food.

The evening festivities may have contributed to the late start of the second day's sessions. (Translation: open bar.)

The event attracted a different crowd to some of Europe's other major postal and delivery conferences. I met senior executives from many e-commerce retailers. Postal people were rather thin on the ground - especially considering the highly visible presence of DPD and DHL.

Delivery companies (including postal operators) are fighting for these e-commerce companies' business. The European delivery scene is becoming increasingly competitive.

The next edition of the DELIVER conference - DELIVER #3 - will take place in June 2018, in a yet-to-be-disclosed-country.

Sunset on the Spree.

Sunset on the Spree.