inthenews

Recent News in Our Ecosystem

 

Why UPS and the Postal Service Get High Marks for Community Impact

Nov. 20, 2017

There’s no industry that Americans rate more highly than delivery services, according to Morning Consult’s Community Impact Rankings. It’s an oft-daily occurrence: the truck driver parked in your neighborhood, the delivery person who rings your doorbell and the arrival of a package. Or it’s the mail being delivered each day. Experts say that level of frequency and visibility among millions of Americans is one reason why the U.S. Postal Service, United Parcel Service Inc. and FedEx Corp. are atop Morning Consult’s rankings of companies that have the most positive impact on local communities. Sixty-six percent of adults say UPS has a positive impact on their local communities, tied with the U.S. Postal Service. That makes them the top-ranked brands by this measure. FedEx garners positive views from 63 percent, putting it in fourth place after Wal-Mart Stores Inc…more

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How One Organization Reimagined Its Brand To Build Relevancy In The Era Of Big Data

Nov. 19, 2017

The DMA is celebrating its 100-year anniversary this year. Over the past century, DMA has served as the backdrop for the progression of marketing from direct mail through the data-inspired digital age. Yet, many people still associate DMA solely with “direct mail”. When the current CEO, Tom Benton, joined DMA in 2014, he realized that the mission of the organization had far outgrown the “out-of-date” perception that some people still held. He knew that there was an opportunity to deliver even greater value to members. Consequently, he has led the organization to drive greater clarity of purpose and to share this via a re-envisioned brand—the Data & Marketing Association….more

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HOW USING BLOCKCHAIN CAN HELP COMMUNICATION AND BUILD CIRCULARITY

Nov. 17, 2017

The circular economy has become a priority for state authorities and businesses across Europe. However, most organisations that want to embrace the circular economy cannot achieve fully it by themselves. While cooperation between different entities to achieve a higher goal is certainly not new, everyone can agree that there are problems to overcome and agreements to be made. These problems can relate to areas as broad as legislation, culture, transparency or retaining a competitive advantage…..more

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Study: Reverse logistics still a puzzle for omnichannel retailers

Nov. 17, 2017

Today’s consumers love the convenience of online shopping, but it often takes them a few attempts to find the perfect fit. Retailers have a solution for that. To ensure a “frictionless” online shopping experience, they promise hassle-free returns. Shoes too small? Return them. Pants too long? Return them. Sweater too tight? Return it. And return they do. Today’s shoppers do not hesitate to send back items that don’t meet their expectations—whether it’s a question of fit, quality, damage during shipping, or a host of other reasons. By all accounts, the e-commerce returns rate today runs well into the double digits, with some estimates putting it at 30, 40, or even 50 percent.  All this creates big headaches for retailers…more

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Why You Should Think Twice Before Opting for Free 2-Day Shipping

Nov. 17, 2017

We’ve all been there. Running low on batteries, diapers, socks ― whatever ― go online, order and click the free two-day delivery option. Because, why not? It’s free and it’s fast. What people may not realize is that the speedy delivery comes at an environmental cost. A new video released by the University of California and Vox as part of their Climate Lab series aims to draw attention to the unintended impacts of our need for instant gratification by highlighting the staggering scale of the digital shopping revolution….more

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Shoppers want free shipping this holiday season

Nov. 8, 2017

Free shipping appears to be the most popular retailer policy, as significantly less consumers plan on utilizing easy returns, price matching, and other policies. Retailers would be wise to find a way to offer free shipping this holiday season and beyond, or they risk losing customers to those that do. Free shipping is more important than fast shipping to consumers, but they still want orders in two to four days. A whopping 88% of respondents said free shipping was more important to them than fast shipping, indicating what retailers should prioritize…more

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Shipping Giant UPS Joins Blockchain in Trucking Alliance

Nov. 8, 2017

Global shipping major UPS was accepted as member of the Blockchain in Trucking Alliance (BiTA) as of early November 2017. BiTA is a Blockchain consortium that is mainly focused on the trucking and shipping industry. In its announcement, the consortium claimed that UPS will assist in the development of standards around the use of Blockchain in systems used to track or monitor packages, facilitate payments between shipping parties and other industry applications…more

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Holiday Ecommerce To Hit Record $107B in 2017; Mobile Will Lead In Visits

Nov. 2, 2017

Holiday e-commerce spending will break through $100 billion in 2017 in the U.S. alone, according to a study released today by Adobe. That’s almost 14% year-over-year growth. In addition, Cyber Monday will hit $6.6 billion in sales alone, even though Black Friday will have better deals. And mobile, at last, has surpassed desktop, in at least one way…more

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Getting Retailers To The Point Of No Returns

Nov. 2, 2017

What’s the worst part of the holidays? It could be a draw between Aunt Martha’s fruitcake that nobody really wants, Uncle Eddie’s drunken political rants and Dominic the Christmas Donkey. But, if you ask a retailer, you’ll probably get the same answer no matter which one you ask: holiday returns. Annually, merchandise returns cost retailers in the U.S. hundreds of billions of dollars, and a fair chunk of that is concentrated around the holiday season. Like Aunt Martha with her fruitcake, it seems many people are not very good at giving gifts that recipients actually want. It’s not always their fault. They may have put in a good effort or spent good money on something they believed would be appreciated, and maybe they got close. Maybe the blouse is the right style but the wrong color or size. Maybe the throw pillow is pretty but doesn’t match the drapes. Maybe the wallet is too small or the shoes are too big. Target has joined the ranks of retailers trying to combat the post-holiday returns wave (and unwanted gift returns in general) by adopting GiftNow, a digital gifting service by Loop Commerce that allows gifters to virtually choose, pay for and send a personalized gift. Recipients can then accept the gift as given or trade it in digitally before any goods are shipped…more

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Amazon’s next targets: FedEx and UPS

Nov. 1, 2017

Amazon has gotten so good at moving merchandise that it now accounts for 43 cents of every dollar spent online in the U.S., according to eMarketer. An ebullient Wall Street last week sent the company’s share price soaring after a record-breaking third quarter, and made CEO Jeff Bezos the richest man in the world. What’s next: Lost in this torrent of news are indications that Amazon’s revenue formula is fundamentally changing: from a reliance on retail and cloud services, the e-retailer appears likely to power future growth with fulfillment and shipping services to third-party sellers. This is highly lucrative stuff: Analysts and industry executives say new initiatives like Amazon Key and Amazon Seller Flex show the company’s potential to siphon off a large chunk of the trillions of dollars spent globally on logistics and shipping. “This is going to be a huge business for them,” says Cooper Smith Amazon, an analyst with business intelligence firm L2…more

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Spy Shots: New Postal Service Prototype Mahindra Mail Truck Prototype Spotted

Nov. 1, 2017

Another prototype mail delivery truck in the running for a lucrative U.S. Postal Service contract has been spotted while awaiting testing. Spy photographers captured images of the truck, built by the Indian auto manufacturer Mahindra, recently on a USPS lot in Flint, Mich. The Mahindra truck is one of five entries under review by the USPS Next Generation Delivery Vehicle Program that is expected to select a new mail truck in the first half of 2018. The USPS contract is for up to 180,000 trucks…more

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How Retailers Of Any Size Can Level The Playing Field In Shipping And Delivery

Nov. 1, 2017

Retailers of all sizes are finding themselves competing against Amazon and other huge retailers to meet customer expectations, creating challenges for smaller retailers in matching the delivery speed and price options provided by the larger retailers. A recent Forbes Insights report, “Shipping as Strategy: How Small and Midsize Retailers Can Best Meet Customers’ Delivery Expectations in the Age of Amazon,” sponsored by Pitney Bowes, examines how other retailers can level the logistical playing field. A previous blog gave an overview of the situation…more

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UPS expects to ship 750 million packages this holiday season while adding peak shipping charges

Oct. 26, 2017

United Parcel Service expects a handful of extra delivery days will help it smash shipping records for the 2017 holiday season. The Atlanta-based shipping company forecasts holiday delivery of about 750 million packages, the company said in a press release Thursday. That’s a 7 percent increase from its prediction last year, when the company expected to ship 700 million packages during its busiest season. UPS also expects to ship more than 30 million packages every day for 17 of the 21 shipping days before Christmas — 510 million packages or more in less than four work weeks…more

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Study: Online shoppers prefer easy in-store returns

Oct. 26, 2017

Consumers don’t like returns and neither do e-commerce sites or online retailers, but if companies want to keep their customers, then reverse logistics should be a top priority. When conducting the study, Happy Returns Co-Founder and CEO David Sobie said he looked for common goals between consumers and online sellers. According to Sobie in an interview with Supply Chain Dive, “We wanted to answer the question, what do customers want in returns? And what’s the prize, what’s in it for the retailer if they give the customer what they want?” Consumers don’t just want fast, free shipping for items bought online — they also want fast, free, easy returns and immediate refunds. More than 75% of the 1,800 respondents interviewed this summer said they wanted free returns, and more than a third want to return items without a receipt. All those stats are the ingredients of a highly agile, swift reverse logistics system, which is something e-tailers must be willing to build out. According to the study, 56% of respondents said knowledge of fast, free, easy returns would incentivize them to shop at a particular e-tailer, and 42% said that knowledge would prompt them to return to a particular site to shop again…more

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Amazon launches security camera and lock system that lets you get deliveries inside your home when you’re out

Oct. 26, 2017

Amazon launched a smart security camera on Wednesday that works with its voice assistant Alexa, which will allow deliveries to your home even when you’re out. The service is called Amazon Key and the indoor security camera has been named the Amazon Cloud Cam. Amazon however is not making a lock, which will instead be supplied by several manufacturers such as Yale and Kwikset. Amazon Key enables in-home delivery and access for guests and service appointments. It will be available from November 8 in 37 cities across the U.S. and will be rolling out to more locations over time. Delivery via this method is available at no extra cost for Prime members…more

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The R2-D2 Of Mail Delivery Helps Postal Workers On Their Rounds

Oct. 26, 2017

The future! A faraway, elusive place, that bastard. Like Eddie Izzard once said: “Those doors that go swoosh in Star Trek? We got them now! And that’s about it.” Now, we’ve got another detail of that distant future: A robot that is the R2-D2 to the German postal service’s Luke Skywalkers. Its name is PostBot, and it was designed by French company Effidence with “considerable help from the delivery staff of Deutsche Post,” according to the German equivalent to the U.S. Postal Service. The electric-powered robot can carry up to 330 pounds of letters and packages through the city, using artificial intelligence to follow the legs of its mail carrier through the entire delivery route, navigating obstacles in any weather condition. According to Deutsche Post, “the control elements have been placed on both sides of the unit to promote good ergonomics for the [workers’] back and joints.” What’s more, this thing is fast…more

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How This Niche E-Commerce Site Uses A Personal Touch To Slash Shopping Cart Abandonment

Oct. 24, 2017

When entrepreneur Amy Venzke started Strolleria with her husband Drew to sell high-end strollers and car seats, she had no illusions about the competition she was up against. “We sell the same products at the same prices as many other retailers,” she says. The Venzkes opened a brick-and-mortar store in Scottsdale, AZ, in June of 2016. They launched a Shopify e-commerce store at the same time. On the web, Strolleria competes against every large retailer that sells car seats and strollers. Venzke knew that she would have to do something special to stand out in the wide world of e-commerce. I recently had the opportunity to talk to Amy Venzke about their strategy to stand out in the e-commerce space. These are the insights she shared..more

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Saudi Postal plans new distribution centres with view to privatisation

Oct. 18, 2017

The head of Saudi Arabia’s government-owned postal service said on Wednesday the institution was setting up new distribution centres as part of a privatisation process he indicated could take several years. The kingdom is launching a privatisation drive in many sectors as part of wider economic reforms aimed at boosting efficiency and easing pressure on state finances in an era of cheap oil…more

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Amazon and Big Apartment Landlords Strike Deals on Package Delivery — Update

Oct. 17, 2017

Amazon.com Inc. is taking over the package rooms of some of the country’s largest apartment landlords, in a move that could help consolidate its control over how goods make it from the warehouse floor to the front door.  Amazon has signed contracts with apartment owners and managers representing more than 850,000 units across the U.S. to begin installing Amazon locker systems in their buildings, according to the landlords. Amazon has commitments to install the lockers in thousands of properties, many before the peak holiday shopping season, according to a person familiar with the matter. Several of the nation’s largest operators, AvalonBay Communities Inc., Equity Residential, Greystar and Bozzuto Group, have signed up so far, company executives said…more

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NZ POST’S EXPERIMENT WITH ON-DEMAND DELIVERY; AUSTRALIA POST LAUNCHES SHIPSTER

Oct. 16, 2017

Michael Stewart, General Manager Customer Experience and Innovation at New Zealand Post, joins me to talk about NZ Post’s adventures in on-demand delivery. We discuss:  What inspired NZ Post to investigate on-demand delivery; Supplying parts for the construction sector; Integrating virtual reality and on-demand delivery with repair and maintenance supply chains; Delivering meals for KFC and other restaurants; Who does the driving – NZ Post drivers or independent drivers?; BringIt: NZ Post’s on-demand delivery platform; NZ Post’s established Courier Post service.
Also in this episode: analysis of Shipster, Australia Post’s new subscription delivery service…more

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Walmart announces speedy returns program

Oct. 10, 2017

Walmart has announced Mobile Express Returns, a new program that aims to make returns of online and in-store purchases fast and painless, Business Insider reports.  The program will launch in November and be immediately available for orders sold and shipped by Walmart.com. In-store purchases and online orders from third-party sellers will be eligible for the program in the near future, and the retailer plans to make the program available in all 4,700 of its US locations.  Mobile Express Returns should create a fast and easy process for product returns…more

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Deutsche Post tests postal delivery robot

Oct. 4, 2017

Deutsche Post has selected the German town of Bad Hersfeld as its test site for a robot to accompany mail deliverers on their routes and carry their mail items. The project was announced at a joint press conference between the mayor of Bad Hersfeld and Jürgen Gerdes, CEO of the Post – eCommerce – Parcel division at Deutsche Post DHL Group.  Residents of two delivery districts in Bad Hersfeld can immediately expect to start seeing the self-propelled electric “PostBOT” accompanying the mail carrier. The robot can carry up to six post trays, relieving carriers of their heavy loads. It also frees up the deliverers’ hands, making it easier for them to distribute the mail. Deutsche Post will be watching the pilot project carefully to see how well the robot supports staff with their physically demanding work…more

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This intriguing drone concept drops packages straight into your hands

Oct. 4, 2017

Technology research company Cambridge Consultants has unveiled a drone delivery concept called DelivAir that delivers a package directly into someone’s hands, using coded patterns sent via a phone’s LED flash to identify the recipient. The company says this type of delivery is ideal for items that are needed instantly or critically like a first aid kit to a hiker, emergency relief packages to disaster areas, or for delivering medical supplies like an EpiPen….more

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The Next Place For Tech To Tackle: Reverse Logistics

Oct. 4, 2017

Technology will continue to affect historically offline industries. From fashion to food to how we book a hotel or hail a cab, disruption is inevitable and life-changing — both for the consumer and for the techie who created the technology. Obviously, some industries are easier to bring online: sexy, fun consumer-facing products are typically a quick sell. Yet for others, change is hard, and despite a glaring need to automate inefficient processes, there is significant pushback — most notably, a sentiment of, “We’ve always done it this way, so why invest time and resources into changing anything?”  This is why I find working to bring technology to the “others” so interesting — and necessary. I work in reverse logistics, which is how retailers manage the flow of returned and excess merchandise. It’s an old-school, messy, awkward stepchild of an industry — a place where the sun (and technology) definitely doesn’t shine. But with skyrocketing return rates and record amounts of overstock — due to relaxed return policies, the spike in e-commerce (which brings higher return rates) and fickle buyer behavior — tech adoption is critical in the reverse logistics industry. Here’s why. Around $260 billion in merchandise was returned to U.S. retailers in 2015, with another $123.4 billion having been pulled from shelves or deemed excess. Globally, returns and excess inventory cost retailers $1.75 trillion annually. It’s crazy to think that 95% of this merchandise doesn’t go back on the shelves but instead ends up sitting in a warehouse, taking up space, costing money and depreciating in value until someone decides to do something about it…more

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How 3-D Printers Could Erase a Quarter of Global Trade by 2060

Oct. 3, 2017

Critics of global trade might find something to celebrate in the advent of 3-D printing.  Raoul Leering, head of international trade analysis at at ING, writes that growth in 3-D printing could wipe out almost one-quarter of cross-border trade by 2060. His review of the technology’s landscape kicks off this week’s economic research wrap, which also touches on innovation clusters, attitudes about men and women in the American workplace, and the demographics of art spending. Check back each week for a rundown of new and pertinent economic studies…more

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Walmart buys NYC parcel delivery company

Oct. 3, 2017

Walmart has revealed that the deal closed on Friday (29 September). Although Walmart declined to disclose the acquisition price it did say that “it was smaller than previous acquisitions we’ve made this year”.  Walmart described Parcel as a “24/7 operation that delivers packages the same-day, overnight and in scheduled two-hour windows”.  In a notice posted on the Walmart website today (3 October), Nate Faust, senior vice president, Walmart U.S. eCommerce Supply Chain, said: “Parcel has partnerships with several meal kit, grocery and e-commerce companies, and has delivered more than 1 million meals in the past two years. So our immediate plan is for Parcel to continue serving its existing clients and growing its customer base. There’s a lot of upside and I’m excited about the potential there. “But I see even more upside for our own same-day deliveries. Jet has been testing free same-day delivery of certain orders to customers in New York City. We can build upon that and plan to leverage Parcel for last-mile delivery to customers in New York City – including same-day delivery – for both general merchandise as well as fresh and frozen groceries from Walmart and Jet.”…more

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Royal Mail staff vote to strike over pensions

Oct. 3, 2017

Royal Mail workers have voted in favour of strike action in a row over pensions and pay.  The Communication Workers Union (CWU) said 73.7% of its 110,000 members cast their votes, with 89% backing a strike. It is the first major vote since the introduction of the Trade Union Act, which requires strike votes to have a 50% turnout.  The CWU said the postal executive will meet later this week to determine any potential strike dates.  Earlier this year, the Royal Mail announced that it would close its current defined benefit scheme in March 2018.  Although the pension fund is currently in surplus, Royal Mail, which was privatised in 2013, claims that its current annual contribution of £400m a year would swell to £1.26bn….more

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With ‘Taskers’, Delhi-based Meratask gets your couriers delivered in a day

Oct. 3, 2017

After working in financial markets for 12 years, Piyush Tandon and Deepak Batra felt the itch to try their hand at something on their own. After working with companies like India Bulls and HDFC Securities the two friends in their late thirties decided to dabble with technology and take a shot at solving a real Indian problem, which is to deliver small items on the same day in the city. The idea was born out of their experience in handling cheques in their office. In the financial world, there often arises the need to get a cheque or a document collected or dropped off with clients. This task, which could easily be done in a day, gets delayed as they had to use courier services. “The current system is inefficient as it takes a long time for deliveries within the same city. Technology can solve this and we believe runner services can beat couriers within the city,” says Piyush, who went on to found Meratask, a runner service that allows the customer to order deliveries through an app….more

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USPS OIG White Paper on USPS and Autonomous Vehicles

Oct. 2, 2017

Driverless cars have captured imaginations for decades, but the past few years have seen the technology move from dream toward reality. More formally known as autonomous vehicles, these self-driving cars and trucks have the potential to transform not only personal mobility but transportation and delivery as well. Other logistics companies are already researching ways they can realize the technology’s promise to increase safety, reduce fuel costs, and improve worker productivity. The OIG has identified ways the Postal Service could use the technology in last-mile delivery and trucking. Applications include autonomous vehicles that assist carriers in delivering mail, a mobile parcel locker that is a complete departure from current delivery methods, and autonomous trucks that handle the transportation of mail on highways…more

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Chinese ecommerce giant JD eyes driverless deliveries

Oct. 2, 2017

Chinese ecommerce giant JD unveiled its latest invention last week: an autonomous delivery truck able to identify traffic signals and sense obstacles from over 100 metres away. The US-listed firm — which has strived to utilize unmanned vehicles to beef up delivery efficiency — said the EV80 autonomous light truck jointly developed with SAIC Maxus is equipped with radars, sensors, high-precision mapping, and a positioning system that can detect obstacles from 150 meters away and rearrange the route, according to a Sina news report…more

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Lyft reportedly exploring first step towards IPO

Oct. 1, 2017

Lyft is close to hiring a financial services firm as an advisor for its initial public offering (IPO), the first step towards planning the company’s move into the public markets, according to a Reuters report….more

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Decline in number of European retailers offering free returns

Sept. 27, 2017

There has been a serious drop in the number of European retailers that offer free returns to their customers. It went from 55 percent in the first quarter of this year to 28 percent now. In the UK, half of brands offer free returns, while 23 percent in Germany and 21 percent in Ireland do this.  This is shown by research from returns platform ReBound among over 200 leading fashion brands. The second edition of the Great Returns Race report also shows that most brands are still not being honest about their returns policy to customers. Only 6 percent promote their policies at all three key stages of the returns purchase: the product, basket and checkout pages…more

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FedEx CEO: I doubt e-commerce will ever dominate retail

Sept. 20, 2017

Amazon (AMZN) may be disrupting retail amid the “e-commerce revolution”, but FedEx (FDX) CEO Fred Smith says the transformation may not be as disruptive as many investors think. “E-commerce is not going to eliminate the retailing sector of the country. It’s about 10% now. It’s certainly going to grow as a percentage. But will it be half? I doubt it,” Smith said in the company’s first quarter earnings conference call Tuesday. In fact, he said the evolution of the business is more complicated and counterintuitive than many think…more

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Why it’s time to reroute urban deliveries and logistics

Sept. 20, 2017

Many cities around the world are sketching new roadmaps for moving citizens and commuters around streets and neighborhoods, driven in large part by concerns over unmanageable traffic congestion and vehicle emissions. Far fewer are actively addressing an equally serious issue, ensuring that goods freighted by delivery fleets and logistics services are part of the masterplan for a more sustainable transportation system. And that looks like a big oversight. The reality is that as people move to cities, more commercial vehicles will follow — freight volumes into urban environments could grow by up to 40 percent, according to projections by McKinsey & Co. researchers. Think of all the times you’ve been in a taxi-cab or ride-sharing vehicle that was blocked or delayed because a truck or van was idling near the curb or, as is sometimes the case, blocking a bicycle lane. The good news is that planners and corporate logistics teams are waking up to this issue, according to new McKinsey analysis as well as a study published jointly last week by UPS and GreenBiz Research…more

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Amazon is firing on all cylinders to grow its retail presence

Sept. 19, 2017

Amazon announced a partnership with Kohl’s on Tuesday that would let its customers return their purchases through certain Kohl’s U.S. locations. That’s just one example of Amazon’s physical expansion efforts in recent years. Amazon is aggressively expanding into the physical retail space because it directly impacts its online sales, according to a person familiar with the matter…more

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FedEx rolls out 2018 rate increases

Sept. 19, 2017

Transportation and logistics bellwether FedEx yesterday announced rate increases for various business lines, including FedEx Express, FedEx Ground, and FedEx Freight, which will take effect on January 1, 2018….more

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Leveraging Returns as Part of the Online Shopping Experience

Sept. 16, 2017

As online retail grows, retailers have to leverage every new touchpoint in the delivery process in order to continuously build customer loyalty. One of the touchpoints that doesn’t get as much attention as the others is the returns process. What was once a necessity for online retail is fast becoming a pivotal part of the overall experience. In the UK, the online returns channel is set to rise by 34.6% to over five billion pounds by 2022 – and this growth is comparable to the forecasts across the rest of Europe and US. On the one hand, as people get accustomed to shopping online, they’re also returning more items. What’s more, research shows that return policies play a key role in the decision-making process for many online shoppers. On the other hand, return alternatives that give customers the confidence, flexibility and convenience to order and then return unwanted items can also become a gateway to improving customer loyalty with exceptional customer service. A recent consumer survey by Narvar shows that nearly half of all US customers said they returned an online transaction in the last year. What’s more, 49% of them actively check the retailer’s return policies before completing an online transaction…more

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Consumer Startup Happy Returns Brings In $4 Million

Sept. 14, 2017

Happy Returns announced it has secured $4 million in Series A financing. Upfront Ventures led the round, with participation from Chubbies, City Chic, Jaanuu, Paul Evans and Yosi Samra. Happy Returns plans to transform ecommerce by solving the No.1 pain point of online shopping: returns. The company provides a method of returns that customers overwhelmingly prefer – in-person returns – through a network of physical return bars staffed by friendly, highly-trained “returnistas,” located in premier shopping centers, on corporate and college campuses and in other convenient spots. According to the company, customers benefit by avoiding shipping costs and getting immediate refunds, while retailers using Happy Returns save money through increased conversions and customer loyalty and satisfaction…more

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DoorDash acquires delivery and logistics startup Rickshaw

Sept. 14, 2017

DoorDash is announcing the acquisition of Rickshaw, a Y Combinator-incubated startup that helps businesses offer same-day delivery by connecting them to a courier network and managing the logistics. DoorDash has been developing a similar platform called Drive, which allows customers to use DoorDash’s network to make deliveries beyond DoorDash’s consumer website and app.  Meanwhile, Rickshaw CEO Divya Bhat said she’d built a profitable business in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area with a “super small, scrappy team” of just four full-time people. However, as they looked at raising a Series A and expanding, she said it would mean “taking a big step back and building a bunch of generic infrastructure.”…more

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Take Note from Zappos.com: How to Create a Win-Win Return Policy for Your Ecommerce Business

Sept. 13, 2017

Zappos.com is known for having a great returns policy. But, what exactly makes Zappos.com stand out from the crowd? It all comes down to these three elements: it’s easy to understand, it’s easy to use, and it encourages customers to join a rewards program.  Looking at Zappos.com, your first thought is probably, “That’s great! But what can I do to improve my own business’s return policy?”…more

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The Transformation of the American Shopping Mall

Sept. 12, 2017

The father of the American shopping mall, the Austrian-born architect Victor Gruen, envisioned the mall as a sort of European-style town center for the American suburbs. He saw malls as climate-controlled Main Streets, with post offices, supermarkets and cafes, set amidst larger complexes with schools, parks, medical centers and residences. You’d hardly need to drive at all. Gruen found cars repulsive. But only part of Gruen’s vision caught on: the climate-controlled gray box, famous for encouraging car culture rather than stopping it. In 1978, the elderly Gruen railed against what his idea had become…more

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The death of Amazon’s 1-Click patent could save shoppers

Sept. 12, 2017

Amazon’s controversial 1-Click patent opens with a summary that’s decidedly dry. It goes: “A method and system for placing an order to purchase an item via the Internet.”  Despite its stiff language, that US patent, which was granted in 1999, helped open the internet to droves of shoppers by allowing customers on Amazon.com to buy stuff with — you guessed it — just one click. It also became a lightning rod for what’s wrong with the US patent system, with some griping that too many and too broad patents were getting OK’d. With the patent set to expire Tuesday, the change could shake the world of payments. It’s a world that’s gotten particularly messy and confusing in recent years as you have to grapple with multiple ways to buy that new frying pan online. The good news is the sites you visit will now be able to get their hands on the 1-Click technology without having to cough up licensing fees to Amazon in the process, leading to a more consistent experience regardless of where you shop…more

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How Technology Is Bridging The Gaps In India’s Fragmented Logistics Sector

Sept. 11, 2017

India’s logistics sector is booming, and is touted to be worth $307 billion by 2020. Retail, e-commerce and manufacturing have propelled its rapid growth, but so far it has been largely unorganized, mainly thanks to outdated processes and limited technological intervention. This technological gap has created multiple opportunities for startups to provide innovative solutions to mitigate the industry’s connectivity problems, service e-commerce players better and provide a seamless customer experience…..more

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Pitney Bowes boosts delivery offerings with Newgistics acquisition

Sept. 11, 2017

Pitney Bowes has agreed to the $475 million acquisition of Newgistics, a provider of package deliveries, returns, fulfillment and digital commerce solutions for retailers and ecommerce brands, to accelerate Pitney Bowes’ further expansion in the U.S. domestic parcels market, according to a company press release.  The deal is expected to close late in the third quarter or early in the fourth quarter. Pitney Bowes plans to continue operating the businesses as independent units for the rest of this year, and into the first quarter of 2018 to avoid any disruptions during the busy holiday shipping season….more

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JD.com invests in supply chain, trials first fully-automated sorting centre

Sept. 7, 2017

Chinese e-commerce company JD.com is testing its first fully-automated sorting centre, operated exclusively by robots and machinery, as part of plans to fulfill its promise of same- and next-day delivery to most of the country’s population….more

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Postal bank planning 2nd offering

August 31, 2017

Hong Kong-listed Postal Savings Bank of China, the largest lender by number of branches on the mainland, said it plans to raise some 5.17 billion yuan (5 million) through listing in Shanghai Stock Exchange. The listing, if successful, will help to develop the lender’s domestic and global financing platforms and optimize its corporate governance structure, according to the bank.
The lender raised .4 billion through listing in Hong Kong last year, becoming the world’s biggest IPO since internet giant Alibaba was listed in New York in 2014. The bank reported first-half net profit of 26.6 billion yuan, up 14.5 percent year-on-year, and first-half revenue of 105.97 billion yuan, up 13.6 percent. By the end of June 2017, the lender’s asset size was 8.54 trillion yuan, 3.37 percent year-on-year increase….more

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National Postal Strike Looms Unless Company Changes Direction

August 30, 2017

This week the CWU is in the final days of talks with Royal Mail management aimed at securing an agreement to avoid a major national industrial dispute. Unless Royal Mail significantly shift their position on pensions, pay, shorter working hours and its operational strategy, then CWU will ballot our members for industrial action in early September.  As a union we aren’t oblivious to the issues the postal sector faces from changes in technology and society. I should know – the job I started out in, working as a telegram boy, no longer even exists. But the pressure workers in Royal Mail are being put under to work ever harder and faster for cheaper than ever before, has got as much to do with decisions successive governments have taken as these societal changes…more

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Royal Mail unveils all-electric postal vans

August 24, 2017

Royal Mail has unveiled a range of all-electric postal vans. The new fleet will include three 3.5 tonne vans (pictured) and six larger HGVs, with all being based at the Mount Pleasant Mail Centre in London. Built by Arrival – an automotive tech company based in Oxfordshire – the new 3.5 tonne vans have a range of 100 miles will be used to transport mail between distribution centres in London and the south east. They will be joined by 100 Peugeot Partner Electric vans as the Royal Mail looks to act before the London Ultra Low Emission Zone comes into force in 2019. The Royal Mail says it is trialling a variety of vehicles to see which work best and is open to sharing its experience with other van operators who may be considering introducing similar vans. The Royal Mail currently runs 49,000 vans and trucks, with almost all being powered by diesel. The news comes as the Government aims to ban the sale of all petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040 as part of ambitious proposals to cut nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels. As well as banning all new conventional petrol and diesel vehicle sales, the Government will spend £3 billion on improving air quality, with councils being given the power to introduce ‘clean air zones’ and charge diesels to enter….more

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Why HP Inc. and Deloitte Are Going Big on 3D Printing

August 24, 2017

HP Inc. and Deloitte are making a big push in 3D printing. The personal computer and printing giant and consulting firm said Thursday that they would jointly work with companies interested in using HP’s 3D printers for manufacturing. HP only started selling its first 3D printers in December after first announcing them in May 2016. Although currently a small market, HP CEO Dion Weisler believes that 3D printing will become a big hit for his company and that it could win a sizable share of what he said is a $12 trillion market. “We are looking to accelerate what I think is the inevitability of the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” Weisler told Fortune. Weisler likened 3D printing’s potential in traditional manufacturing to how Netflix’s streaming movies have changed the entertainment industry and how Amazon has upended both retailing and corporate technology….more

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Walmart Online Sales Spike

August 17, 2017

Walmart’s recent spending spree to try to catch up to Amazon seems to be paying off. The world’s largest retailer said Thursday that online sales soared 60 percent in the past three months as people shopped more at Walmart.com, Jet.com and its other websites. Walmart had paid more than $3 billion for Jet last year, and since then picked up smaller players including ModCloth and Moosejaw. It is also expanding online grocery ordering to more stores, and is adding giant automated kiosks to 100 locations so customers can pick up online orders without waiting for employees to fetch them…more

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As Alibaba’s Profit Surges, Its Shares Catch Up With U.S. Online Giants’

August 17, 2017

This year may finally be the year that global investors put Chinese internet companies alongside American giants like Facebook and Amazon. On Thursday, Alibaba Group, the Chinese e-commerce giant, said its profit for the three months that ended in June almost doubled, while its revenue rose more than half. But just as impressive a jump was its stock price, which has increased more than 80 percent so far this year. Now Alibaba and its biggest Chinese rival, Tencent Holdings, have valuations that hover around $400 billion. By contrast, Amazon.com has a valuation of about $470 billion, while Facebook is at about $490 billion…more

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Thailand To Apply Blockchain To Postal Services And IoT To Railways

August 16, 2017

Thailand Post and State Railway of Thailand (SRT) are seeking to integrate blockchain technology and internet of things (IoT), respectively, to their service platforms. Thailand Post director Thitipong Nandhabiwat predicts that blockchain technology may be implemented by the end of 2017, or shortly thereafter. Blockchain technology can be used to add a layer of security to the delivery of high value parcels, like luxury items. “Blockchain is secure and trusted as only authorised persons are allowed to open parcels,” Nandhabiwat said. With similar goals of introducing new technology, SRT seeks to innovate with IoT devices. As per the report, SRT’s chief information officer Sirima Hiruncharoenvate said that the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission has approved broadcasting between the 800-900 megahertz spectrum, which would allow a wireless communications array to integrate with IoT sensors. Such sensors may provide better alerts to authorities, enabling them to more effectively stop trains to prevent accidents and perhaps save lives…more

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Uber for Trucks Causes Major Disruption for Traditional Ground Logistics and Freight Brokerage Market

August 15, 2017

Connected trucks will be integral to future logistics and freight operations as smart trucks will be a necessity in smart cities. By 2020, 35 million trucks are expected to be connected with digital freight solutions and autonomous technologies, transforming the trucking industry into a smarter, efficient and more productive sector. The unaddressed challenge of under-utilized truck capacity will provide original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and telematics service providers (TSPs) the opportunity to invest or partner with freight aggregation companies and become one-stop solution providers for fleet operators. Frost & Sullivan’s recent analysis, Developments in the Global Connected Truck Market Shaping the Future of Logistics, finds the market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 40.9 percent, garnering $20.5 billion by 2020. The study examines key trends in the connected truck market that will influence the future of logistics including Uber for Trucks, Internet of Things (IoT) in Trucks, Artificial Intelligence, Autonomous Technologies, and 3D Printing…more

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Inside the Increasingly Complex Algorithms That Get Packages to Your Door

August 15, 2017

If you had to hand-deliver 50 packages, how would you go about planning the best route? That’s a theoretical problem mathematicians and computer scientists have long tussled with, and you might even be familiar with the traveling-salesman problem yourself. Simply put, it asks: given a list of locations and the distances between them all, what is the shortest possible route that visits each location once and returns to the origin? Clearly, solving that problem is an attractive proposition for any e-commerce business that delivers goods, because it means lower fuel costs and fewer drivers. But there’s a hitch: the problem gets very hard, very quickly. “If one single driver has to go to 57 stops, you already have a quattuorvigintillion possible combinations,” explains Marc Kuo, the CEO of the Vancouver-based route optimization startup Routific. “That’s a one with 75 zeros.” Existing computer systems would take days or weeks to evaluate every possible route. Instead of seeking perfection, then, firms must find smart approaches to improve their routes as much as possible…more

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Amazon opens ‘Instant Pickup’ points in US brick-and-mortar push

August 15, 2017

Amazon is rolling out pickup points in the United States where shoppers can retrieve items immediately after ordering them, shortening delivery times from hours to minutes, the company said on Tuesday. The world’s largest online retailer has launched ‘Instant Pickup’ points around five college campuses, such as the University of California at Berkeley, it said. Amazon has plans to open more sites by the end of the year including one in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. Shoppers on Amazon’s mobile app can select from several hundred fast-selling items at each site, from snacks and drinks to phone chargers. Amazon employees in a backroom then load orders into lockers within two minutes, and customers receive bar codes to access them. The news underscores Amazon’s broader push into brick-and-mortar retail. Thee-commerce company, which said in June it would buy Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, has come to realize that certain transactions like buying fresh produce are hard to shift online. Its Instant Pickup program targets another laggard: impulse buys…more

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Aldi enters grocery delivery in partnership with Instacart

August 14, 2017

German grocery chain Aldi Inc said on Sunday it has partnered with Instacart Inc to deliver groceries in three U.S. cities, a move that comes amid intense competition and disruption in the industry. Aldi will launch a pilot starting the end of this month in Los Angeles, Atlanta and Dallas with the potential of expanding to more cities in the future. The German retailer does not offer customers an option to shop on its own website now and the partnership is a way to test online grocery demand, Aldi’s Vice President of Corporate Buying Scott Patton told Reuters. “Grocery shopping online is a relatively small part of the business but it is continuing to grow,” Patton said….more

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Business Rivals Agree on Policy

August 14, 2017

At a time when the U.S. needs unity and bold reforms, American businesses must be partners in building the future. While the business community has diverse interests, every company should agree on basic policy priorities if we want to be globally competitive. That’s why we are speaking out together—two fierce competitors, UPS and FedEx, who battle daily in the global marketplace but stand shoulder to shoulder on the need to make government policies more equitable, growth-oriented and simple….more

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Why Free Same-Day Delivery Is Becoming A Must-Have For Retailers — And That Shouldn’t Scare Them

August 10, 2017

When it comes to delivery, there’s a $470B elephant in the room: Amazon.  The Seattle-based company’s average ship time has decreased 1.5 days in the past two years — making it 2 days faster than most competitors — and its Prime Now service offers delivery within hours in over 5000 cities. Fast, free delivery is here, and retailers need to take note. According to one study, 80% of consumers want a same-day shipping option, while only 56% of retailers offer one. That leaves retailers with a choice: either meet consumer expectations, or become irrelevant. With Amazon’s recent acquisition of Whole Foods, they now have fulfillment centers within 10 miles of 80% of the population and 95% of Prime users. This means delivery will only get faster. To future-proof for consumers’ rapidly changing expectations, retailers must consider offering same-day delivery — and even offering it for free…more

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UPS introduces online returns service for e-commerce merchants

August 9, 2017

UPS this week introduced a new online offering-set to debut on August 14 in the United States and August 28 in 43 other countries-that enables e-commerce merchants to customize return shipments according to their policy. Entitled, UPS Returns Manager, UPS said this tool lets customers manage return shipments without having to integrate new technology into their own IT systems. And for consumers using this tool, UPS said they can print a return shipping label from the UPS.com tracking website and from e-mail alerts and also print off return labels for free from The UPS Store locations…more

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Many Unhappy Returns: E-commerce’s Achilles Heel

August 9, 2017

It’s a common misconception that e-commerce is inherently more profitable than brick & mortar retail. The fact that very few online dominant brands’ profit margins exceed those of “traditional” retailers is one clue that this isn’t true. But a better way to understand the longer-term outlook is to look at the underlying economic drivers. Above a basic level of scale, online retail is largely a variable cost business, whereas physical stores succeed by driving sufficient revenue to leverage their mostly fixed costs. At the risk of oversimplification, this means that to make money online gross profit/order needs to exceed the variable costs associated with that order. The reason that many eCommerce companies (or the e-commerce divisions of “omni-channel” retailers) don’t make money is that the marginal cost of acquiring a customer, plus the supply chain cost of fulfilling that order, exceeds the gross profit (essentially, revenue less the cost of goods)…more

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Postal Service may get more freedom to raise stamp prices

August 9, 2017

It may be time to stock up on Forever stamps.  After a 10-year review, the Postal Regulatory Commission could make its decision next month. It might limit how high prices could go, but the cost of a first-class stamp, now 49 cents, could jump. It’s not known how much. Financial analysts praise the plan, but it has raised the ire of the mail-order industry, which could pay millions more for sending items like prescription drugs and magazines and pass the costs onto consumers. The Postal Service is trying to stay financially afloat as it seeks to invest billions in new delivery trucks to get packages more nimbly to American homes…more

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UPS introduces online returns service for e-commerce merchants

August 9, 2017

UPS this week introduced a new online offering-set to debut on August 14 in the United States and August 28 in 43 other countries-that enables e-commerce merchants to customize return shipments according to their policy. Entitled, UPS Returns Manager, UPS said this tool lets customers manage return shipments without having to integrate new technology into their own IT systems. And for consumers using this tool, UPS said they can print a return shipping label from the UPS.com tracking website and from e-mail alerts and also print off return labels for free from The UPS Store locations…more

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New Labor Contract Will Give 200K Postal Workers a Raise, but Trim Their Benefits

August 8, 2017

More than 200,000 U.S. Postal Service employees will soon receive a pay raise but face a slight decrease in health benefits under a new labor contract formally agreed to this week. The National Association of Letter Carriers, which represents 213,000 city mailmen and women across the country, ratified an agreement it had struck with USPS management to avoid binding arbitration. NALC members voted overwhelmingly — 94 percent to 6 percent — to accept the contract, following the union’s executive council unanimously recommending its members do so. The agreement will take effect retroactively to May 21, 2016, and continue through Sept. 20, 2019. All city letter carriers will receive a 1.2 percent pay raise retroactive to Nov. 26, 2016, and a 1.3 percent increase effective Nov. 25 of this year. Employees on the second level of the two-grade pay scale will receive a 2.1 percent raise in 2018…more

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NIPOST Adopts What3Words System

August 3, 2017

Nigeria’s postal service, NIPOST, has just announced its adoption of the what3words global addressing system. Nigeria is the world’s seventh most populous country – and the seventh nation to use the what3words system. The countries already using what3words for mail deliveries include: Mongolia, Sint Maarten, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Tonga and Solomon Islands…more

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Last-mile delivery via drone

July 31, 2017

A warm meal was quickly delivered by a drone from an ESA business incubator start-up to the last inhabitant in a remote village in Portugal. “Even if the village is not far away, it takes a driver by car over half an hour to deliver the meal to Joaquim Reis in Podentinhos and come back due to bad and unpaved roads. Our drone arrived in just three minutes, without the need of a pilot,” explains Raphael Stanzani of Connect Robotics, hosted at ESA’s business incubator in Portugal. “One operator can handle six of our drones at the same time. The drone takes off by itself, taking care of weather, elevation and flight routes. After dropping the package, it returns automatically.” …more

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Retail Ecommerce in Germany to Top $65 Billion

July 31, 2017

Retail ecommerce sales in Germany will rise by nearly $7 billion in 2017 to pass $65 billion, according to eMarketer’s latest forecast of ecommerce activity there. Despite this growth, digital sales will remain a small fraction of total retail sales. Retail ecommerce sales are expected to once again climb by double digits in 2017, swelling a further 11.3%, but annual increases will slow during the remainder of eMarketer’s forecast period, with sales expected to grow just 5.3% in 2021…more

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Amazon’s new ‘Hub’ delivery lockers will accept packages from any sender

July 30, 2017

Amazon is expanding its delivery locker concept into apartment lobbies, with a twist: the new lockers will accept packages not just from Amazon but from any sender, shipped via any carrier, according to the company. The new initiative, called Hub, is a notable expansion of Amazon’s delivery infrastructure beyond its own e-commerce operations. Amazon’s existing Lockers, which launched six years ago, were designed as an alternative to receiving packages from Amazon at home or work…more

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eBay to Highlight Free Returns with New Search Filter

July 27, 2017

Sellers hate returns, but eBay is placing increasing importance on offering them, and free returns in particular. In a session live-streamed from the eBay Open seller conference on Wednesday evening, executives revealed some changes coming to the marketplace that will impact sellers…more

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How small logistics companies can beat the big boys

July 27, 2017

Logistics may be big business in the UK, but not every firm that operates in the business is big. According to the Freight Transport Association’s Logistics Report 2017, there are more than 178,000 logistics enterprises in the UK, many of which are one-person businesses. But together they turn over £1 trillion and employ about 8pc of the UK workforce.  Some national and international logistics companies are so well known that they are household names. Yet they do not necessarily offer a better service than their smaller, locally based, lesser-known rivals…more

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How will same-day and on-demand delivery evolve in urban markets?

July 26, 2017

Delivery start-ups have struck a chord with consumers. But brick-and-mortar retailers and parcel services could still compete by playing to their strengths. The B2C delivery market has been roiled by change in the past few years. In a 2014 McKinsey report on logistics trends, same-day delivery was considered “the next evolutionary step in parcel logistics.” Back then, a consumer survey indicated that latent demand for higher-convenience offers would give fast parcel delivery (service within 1 to 12 hours) 15 percent of the market for B2C domestic parcel deliveries by 2020. The supply side at the time, however, was just emerging. While early providers of same-day delivery gained market traction, they weren’t alone for long…more

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Amazon hosting job fair for 50,000 positions amid logistics hiring squeeze

July 26, 2017

Amazon.com Inc. aims to fill 50,000 new open positions in the U.S. by hosting a giant job fair next month, where it will be making offers on the spot. The event, scheduled for Aug. 2 in a dozen locations around the country including 10 of its warehouses, shows how Amazon AMZN, +0.68% is pushing to make good on its pledge to hire 130,000 full- and part-time workers, as it jockeys with other logistics companies for the same small pool of employees. Once it completes its hiring pledge, with a target date of mid-2018, Amazon’s U.S. workforce would swell to around 300,000, compared with 30,000 in 2011. Still, the current logistics labor market is tight, according to supply-chain industry executives. The crunch is expected to worsen as retailers and logistics companies start preparing for the holiday-shopping season, for which hiring typically begins as early as September….more

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Watch Out PayPal, Amazon May Be Your Next Rival

July 25, 2017

Amazon’s long ago shift into consumer electronics made it a rival toGoogle and Apple’s devices. Amazon is also buying Whole Foods, challenging a variety of grocery store chains along with meal kit delivery service Blue Apron. Now analysts say payment services like PayPal and Visa should watch their backs, according to Bloomberg. They believe that Amazon’s next move will be to push further into payments by promoting Amazon Pay, a service launched in 2007 for making payments online and on mobile….more

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Is There A Real Estate Solution To E-Commerce’s Returns Problem?

July 25, 2017

E-commerce is the single biggest driver of the industrial real estate market and growing, but it has a glaring inefficiency. If we get everything we need delivered to our homes, why is it so difficult to send it back?  Distribution centers are being built all over the country, many as big-box facilities that in some cases require clearance of up to 40 feet. Last-mile distribution centers, designed to be leaner to make use of tighter spaces close to major cities, are beginning to crop up — like a rumored Amazon warehouse close to the University of Pennsylvania’s campus in West Philadelphia. Real estate is changing shape to better fit e-commerce, but only the sexy part. Returns are still a worry…more

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Analysis: FedEx may have to compromise between growth and profitability

July 18, 2017

“There are some questions about Amazon. I think I answered that in my rather long-winded thing (previously). Amazon is a fantastic company and it delivers things to all of us… We move things for Amazon and so forth, but there is far too much focus on that as opposed to the larger part of FedEx’s business.” So said FedEx chief executive Fred Smith in a conference call post-results, 20 June.  It’s always worth spending time assessing the unaudited annual results of FedEx around this time of the year – especially given the rising number of challenges the transport and logistics industry faces, as well as the changes that supply chains are undergoing, driven by the growth in e-commerce…more

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USPS to raise rates on pair of international mail services

July 13, 2017

An organization composed of international mailers is warning its members to expect “a significant mid-August price increase” on two popular products offered by the U.S. Postal Service.  The International Mailers’ Advisory Group (IMAG) said in a July 12 news release that increases are planned for international priority airmail and international surface air lift. The association, based in Arlington, Va., said both services are popular with e-commerce mailers. “The association is disappointed the Postal Service could not time these contract changes to the annual price adjustment in January, and avoid hitting customers with a second and unexpected price increase mid-year,” said Kate Muth, executive director of the mailing group. “Regular, predictable price increases have been a constant refrain from the mailing industry. Unexpected pricing changes are disruptive and damaging to volumes and revenues, especially in a competitive market where customers have other choices,” she said…more

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Analyst: Amazon poised to enter drugstore market

July 5, 2017

Walgreens Boots Alliance’s CEO Stefano Pessina on Thursday shrugged off the idea that Amazon might get into the drugstore business, saying the e-commerce giant was more likely to focus on less complicated retail areas. “Honestly I don’t believe that Amazon will … because they have so many opportunities around world and in many other categories, which are much, much simpler than healthcare, which is a very regulated business,” Pessina told analysts, according to a transcript from Seeking Alpha. Amazon already sells medical devices and employs executives to deal with health care-related regulatory issues, and is said to be exploring how to ramp up its efforts in the pharmacy space. Despite reservations, Pessina did say that Walgreens would be open to partnering with Amazon if it came to that: “If we were wrong and our belief was wrong, I believe that at the end of the day, we could find our goal in the new environment and we wouldn’t exclude to partner with them, we wouldn’t exclude to analyze the new situation of the market and to find our place adapting ourselves.”…more

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Study: Consumers’ shipping expectations higher than ever

June 27, 2017

There is a major disconnect between retailers and consumers when it comes to shipping expectations. Retailers understand that consumers want free shipping. But they are challenged by and grappling with the rising costs of shipping online orders, according to “The State of Shipping in Commerce,” a report from Temando, a shipping and fulfillment software platform provider.
The report confirms that shipping causes shopping cart abandonment. Fifty-four percent of shoppers abandoned their carts due to expensive shipping, while 39% abandoned their carts due to no free shipping. And 26% abandoned their carts due to slow shipping. According to the study, 59% of shoppers will opt to buy from a bricks-and-mortar store if they perceive that the delivery fee for buying the same item online is too high. And while 66% believe that the high cost of shipping is not relative to the experience provided, 51% of retailers listed the rising cost of carrier services as a key challenge…more

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Another postal reform effort fades away

June 27, 2017

It’s hardly a surprise to many in Washington’s postal community, but the lawmaker who crafted the House’s bipartisan postal legislation says his bill appears dead. That is what departed House Oversight chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, told The Hill newspaper shortly before his resignation from Congress became effective June 30. “You can continue to get frustrated and whine about it or you can leave, so I’ve decided to leave,” Chaffetz told the paper. “I’ve got three big prospects and no daylight to actually get them done, and that absolutely was a factor in making my decision,” he said. One of those “prospects” was the postal bill, which Chaffetz said the House GOP leaders did not want to bring to the floor…more

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Pay of new Australian postal service boss more than halved

June 26, 2017

The new boss of Australia’s postal service will be paid less than half the 5.6 million Australian dollar ($4.3 million) salary package that made her predecessor Australia’s highest-paid public servant. Christine Holgate was named as the new managing director and chief executive officer of Australia Post on a salary of AU$1,375 000 plus a performance pay of up to the same amount, a government statement said Tuesday. Her predecessor Ahmed Fahour announced in February he would quit the government-owned corporation, two weeks after his pay was made public by a Senate committee and sparked a political furor…more

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Amazon Lets Prime Members Try on Clothes for Free

June 22, 2017

Amazon has announced Amazon Prime Wardrobe, a new service that lets Prime members try on clothes for free. The beta program lets Prime members pick between 3 to 15 items from more than a million of fashion options with no upfront cost. TechCrunch reported that participating brands include Calvin Klein, Levi’s, Adidas, Theory, Timex, Lacoste and others. Members receive an Amazon Prime box and can try on clothes for up to seven days. Once they’re done, they can then schedule a free pick-up or drop the resealable box with its pre-paid shipping label to a nearby UPS to return whatever clothing they don’t wish to keep….more

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Study: Retailers experiencing e-fulfillment growing pains

June 20, 2017

Retailers are thrilled with their surging online sales, however the same can’t be said for associated fulfillment operations.  Business is booming online as sales across 82% of e-commerce and multichannel businesses increased in 2016. Only 6% reported a decrease in orders. While many voiced concerns over increasing competition, Brexit and currency fluctuations, the majority of companies (88%) expected a further increase in e-commerce orders during 2017. This was according to “The 2017 E-Commerce Fulfillment Report,” from Peoplevox, a warehouse management system (WMS) provider. The report is based on 154 respondents from a variety of countries, including the United Kingdom, Ireland and the United States. Participants work for multichannel retailers; online only, or marketplace resellers.  Despite such positive results and an upbeat outlook for 2017, only 53% of respondents said they were happy with their fulfillment and warehouse operations. Purchasing and forecasting was their most common challenge overall, with almost a quarter (24%) saying this one area required the most improvement in 2017. A majority of businesses (63%) admitted to not always shipping on time with 34% blaming unavailable stock for the hiccup. When it comes to rectifying shipping errors, the majority (80%) said that additional carriage, customer service and warehouse labor expenses as an inevitable cost of order fulfillment. Only one in five admitted to not knowing the cost of shipping mistakes. A majority (78%) of businesses also found meeting the additional demand for orders at peak times an ongoing challenge in 2016, with just over half (52%) resorting to hiring temporary staff. Paying overtime to existing staff and pulling in staff from other parts of the business were other common solutions….more

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In China, a robot has started delivering packages to people

June 19, 2017

Jingdong, or JD.com, China’s second-biggest e-commerce company after Alibaba, sent robots to deliver items for the first time yesterday (June 18), on the last day of a two-week-long shopping bonanza that recorded sales of around $17.6 billion, according to a spokesman with the company. Designed by JD, the white, four-wheeled droid can carry five packages at once and travel 20 km (12.4 miles) if fully charged. It can climb up a 25-degree incline (link in Chinese), and find the shortest route from warehouse to destination. Once it reaches its destination, the robot sends a text message to notify the recipient of the delivery. Users can accept the delivery through face-recognition technology or by using a code, according to China’s state broadcaster CCTV….more

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3 ways AI is already impacting ecommerce

June 19, 2017

Advances in artificial intelligence and deep learning have changed our lives. We are already using it even without realizing it: AI helps to power Google’s search engine, Tesla’s self-driving cars, Apple’s voice assistant, and Amazon’s shopping recommendations. The impact of artificial intelligence in retail and ecommerce is also growing. While ecommerce giants like Amazon, Walmart, and eBay have used these capabilities behind the scenes for years, ecommerce entrepreneurs can now also do the same. Algorithmic technology and AI can be incredibly helpful tools to grow sales and optimize various aspects of ecommerce operation, from pricing to demand planning….more

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5 ways the Amazon–Whole Foods deal could change the way we shop

June 19, 2017

Amazon and Whole Foods have found a great match in each other, one that can give Amazon’s online grocery business a substantial boost by offering in-store pickup while also giving Whole Foods a data and technology upgrade for a better shopping experience. Both can capitalize on fresh opportunities for cross-marketing. Amazon AMZN, -0.07% , if the deal is completed, is gaining a network of more than 430 physical stores, mostly in well-trafficked urban locations. Its customer base is higher-income, skewing to millennial and Gen X consumers, many of whom may be current Amazon customers and time-starved, with an interest in health and wellness and fitness, experience and convenience, but they’re not necessarily current Amazon grocery shoppers. Not only can the stores serve as pickup points for online-ordered groceries and other merchandise—think Amazon Lockers@Whole Foods or a similar pickup system—but those stores can also use Amazon’s technology, data and logistics capabilities for a better shopping experience through faster checkout, personalized deals and short fulfillment times of online orders…more

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Japan Post scraps Nomura Real Estate acquisition plan after postal group’s FY 2016 loss

June 19, 2017

Japan Post Holdings Co. said Monday it called off a plan to acquire Nomura Real Estate Holdings Inc. after the two companies apparently failed to agree a purchase price and other terms. The postal group said May 12 that it is “considering various possibilities on forming new capital and business alliances”, following reports that it was looking to buy a stake in Nomura Real Estate to both strengthen its real estate business and compensate for its sluggish mainstay mail operation. “We are not considering any acquisition of domestic real estate companies at this moment,” Japan Post said Monday in a statement. Nomura Real Estate also said in a separate statement it has stopped assessing the potential sale of its own stocks to Japan Post. The move comes after Japan Post logged a group net loss of ¥28.98 billion ($260 million) for fiscal 2016, its first red ink since its privatization in 2007, due to a massive write-down of its Australian logistics arm, Toll Holdings Ltd., which it purchased in 2015…more

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UPS will add more surcharges for the US holiday season

June 19, 2017

United Parcel Service said on Monday it will levy surcharges on U.S. residential packages during its crucial peak holiday season this year as it seeks to combat the spiraling costs of delivering e-commerce packages. Like its main rival FedEx, UPS has struggled with the expense of “the last mile” associated with delivering to residential addresses. The cost per package to businesses is typically lower because they receive more deliveries…more

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Amazon will disrupt grocery stores next and that justifies its surging price, analyst says

June 15, 2017

Amazon will disrupt grocery stores next and that justifies its surging price, analyst says Amazon will disrupt grocery stores next and that justifies its surging price, analyst says. Amazon’s accelerating expansion into the food business justifies its rallying stock and means the shares should go even higher, an analyst said Thursday. Tapping into the grocery industry remains one of the “largest and most under-penetrated markets” for the e-commerce giant, Nomura Instinet analyst Anthony DiClemente wrote to clients in a note…more

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The United States Postal Service Is Our Biggest Challenge: J.C. Penney CEO

June 15, 2017

E-commerce is expanding at an alarming rate for most bricks-and-mortar retailers, but that could eventually come to a screeching halt. J.C. Penney (JCP) CEO Marvin Ellison said at a Piper Jaffray conference on Wednesday that e-commerce companies’ “biggest challenge” going forward is that while giants like Walmart Stores Inc. (WMT) and Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) push for faster delivery, the United States Postal Service, in particular, won’t be able to keep up. Ellison said fulfillment costs are “increasing dramatically” while USPS is “not increasing at the same rate that e-commerce is growing.”…more

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E-commerce logistics startup raises $17.5 million

June 14, 2017

PostalVision alumni ShipBob, which provides shipping and fulfillment services for e-commerce companies, has raised $17.5 million in a Series B round led by Bain Capital, VentureBeat reports. ShipBob will use the capital to open more fulfillment centers and increase its headcount…more

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German postal service enlists Ford for electric vans drive

June 14, 2017

German logistics group Deutsche Post DHL Group (DPWGn.DE) is expanding its foray into electric delivery vans, signing Ford (F.N) as a components supplier for a new line of larger vehicles, the companies said on Wednesday. Deutsche Post initially developed an electric minivan dubbed Streetscooter for its own operations to avoid inner-city emissions after growth in online shopping resulted in increased parcel deliveries. But in April it took on carmakers by unveiling plans to step up production and sell to other delivery firms…more

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COLLABORATION FOR A CIRCULAR ECONOMY: THREE NEW STUDIES RELEASED

June 12, 2017

A group of leading organisations including Dell, Renault, Arup, Royal BAM, eBay, HP and more have shared their collaborative research in support of the wider circular economy transition. Focus areas so far have ranged from the role of finance in the transition, to a study of reverse logistics needs, to exploring a collection of built environment case studies. Three recently completed projects have focused on empowering product repair, exploring recycled plastics across industries and built environment circular business models…more

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Wal-Mart Asks Employees to delivery packages on their way home

June 5, 2017

Wal-Mart Stores is testing a programme that sends store employees to deliver online orders at the end of their shifts, a new push by the world’s biggest retailer to use its large physical footprint to match Amazon.com’s convenient options for web purchases.  Workers can opt in to earn extra money by making deliveries using their own cars.  They’re assigned packages baed on where they live so the route aligns with their commute home, the company said on Thursday in a blog post…more

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Some of Amazon’s own brands are becoming super popular online

June 4, 2017

Amazon laid the groundwork for a massive line of in-house brands when it launched the AmazonBasics private label in 2009. Seven-plus years later, that launch is paying dividends. In batteries, for example, the AmazonBasics brand has become the most popular online, accounting for an estimated third of all digital sales in batteries as of last summer. In the baby wipe category, the Amazon Elements brand, which is two-and-a-half years old, holds an estimated 15 percent-plus of online market share — behind only Huggies and Pampers. Those were the two examples cited by investor Mary Meeker at the Code Conference last week, where she included Amazon’s growing private-label business on page 75 of her annual Internet Trends report. (You really should watch the full video of her presentation.) And they speak to the potential of this business line to become a major source of revenue — and profits — to Amazon over time…more

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