inthenews

Recent News in Our Ecosystem

Controversial postal network reform takes shape

October 15, 2018

Swiss Post says it is moving ahead with its reform of the nationwide network of subsidiaries in an effort to reduce its deficit.  The companyexternal link said it been able to cut the number of postal offices to 1,114 from 1,400 over the past two years. Chief executive Thomas Baur said he was confident that the number could be reduced to about 800 by 2020.  Instead, Swiss Post plans to create an additional 300 so-called ‘access points’ over the next few years. In total there will be 4,200 service counters.  Officials said they are aware that the closure of postal offices is a sensitive issue, notably in rural areas of the country, but the reform was needed to cut financial losses.  However, the trade union Syndicom has criticised the restructuring plans as inacceptable, accusing the state-owned company of undermining the public service…more

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Department of Commerce and NRF data show slowing September retail sales

October 15, 2018

United States retail sales for the month of September posted slight sequential gains, the annual gains coming in higher, according to data issued today by the United States Department of Commerce and the National Retail Federation (NRF).  Commerce reported that September retail sales, at $509.0 billion, were up 0.1% compared to August and posted a 4.7% annual gain. And it said that total retail sales from July through August saw a 5.9% annual gain.  September retail trade sales headed up 4.4% annually, with gasoline stations up 11.4%, and non-store retailers, which include e-commerce sales, rose 11.4%…more

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U.S. Postal Service Proposes Significant Parcel Rate Hike

October 12, 2018

The U.S. Postal Service has proposed a 9 percent to 12 percent increase in fees for its parcel select service, which is used by Amazon.com and many other retailers, as well as United Parcel Service and FedEx. The service is the last and typically most expensive step in the shipping process that gets packages to customers’ doorsteps. The USPS is proposing a 9.3 percent increase on this service for packages weighing over one pound and a 12.3 percent increase on lighter packages. These changes, if approved by regulators, will go into effect on Jan. 27, 2019…more

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New innovations highlight their potential at POST-EXPO 2018

October 10, 2018

Up-and-coming companies and those launching new products have taken the opportunity to showcase their offering to over 3,500 visitors from more than 100 countries at this year’s POST-EXPO…more

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US Mail Is #NotForSale: Postal Workers Nationwide Stand Together Against Trump’s Privatization Plan

October 9, 2018

As the United States Postal Service (USPS) closed on Monday for a national holiday celebrated by many municipalities as Indigenous Peoples Day, workers across the country held a day of action to protest President Donald Trump’s proposal to privatize the postal service.  Under the proposal—unveiled in June as part of a 32-point plan (pdf) to significantly reorganize the federal government—USPS would “transition to a model of private management and private or shared ownership.” The White House argued that “freeing USPS to more fully negotiate pay and benefits rather than prescribing participation in costly federal personnel benefit programs, and allowing it to follow private sector practices in compensation and labor relations, could further reduce costs.”…more

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POST-EXPO 2018 opens!

October 9, 2018

POST-EXPO 2018, the world’s leading postal, parcel and courier industry exhibition, opened its doors in Hamburg, Germany, today, for what promises to be the most exciting show yet.  More than 3,500 visitors from 100 different countries are expected to visit POST-EXPO 2018 over the next three days. The key industry event this year boasts more than 160 exhibitors and expert speakers from around the world, who are showcasing and discussing the latest and greatest technical innovations for the postal and parcel sectors…more

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An e-commerce pitfall: never-ending returns

October 8, 2018

With the limitless selection and convenience that e-commerce offers consumers, online retailers are selling more and more goods. But they are also taking a lot back.  What’s going on: Some of the biggest e-commerce businesses report staggering sales numbers — but huge pieces of that revenue often get erased in refunds to customers and shipping costs for returns…more

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The Supply Side: Blockchain implications on reverse logistics

October 8, 2018

As online retail continues to grow so does the need for better reverse logistics to handle customer returns. A recent report from Cerasis found the costs of reverse logistics exceed $750 billion per year, with up to 30% of all products ordered online being returned.  The return process varies widely across retailers, but overall product returns are burdensome to consumers who are forced to pay the shipping costs, or for the retailer who is picking up the charges, only to then try and charge the supplier.  The report from Cerasis, a transportation and logistics firm, looks at how applying blockchain technology to reverse logistics might reduce costs and better streamline the customer experience…more

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Report: Shipping options influence Gen Z consumers

October 3, 2018

E-commerce retailers risk losing Gen Z customers by not providing sufficient shipping options, according to a new report from Neopost Shipping.  Sixty per cent of survey respondents in the Gen Z demographic said they would close a shopping cart if shipping costs were too high, and 29 per cent said they would do so because of inconvenient or slow shipping.  “There is a clear opportunity for businesses who are looking to capture the savvy Gen Z customer to meet these needs and ensure they aren’t missing out on a large chunk of their target market,” Neopost Shipping senior vice president of Americas Matthew Mullen said…more

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Thiel-Backed Startup to Sell 5,000 Warehouse Robots to XPO  

October 3, 2018

XPO Logistics Inc. will buy 5,000 warehouse robots from a Singapore startup backed by billionaire Peter Thiel as part of a deal that makes XPO the only logistics provider to use the technology in North America, the U.K. and eight other European countries.  The GreyOrange Pte. robots — flattish, rectangular units that move about the floor much like an extra-large Roomba vacuum cleaner — can roll under storage racks weighing as much as 3,500 pounds (1,600 kilograms), lift them and carry them to warehouse workers who pull off items to be shipped. Butler, as the robot is called, helps workers minimize walk time and manual errors, said XPO, the logistics company founded by billionaire Bradley Jacobs…more

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Blockchain could be a $7 billion market and a major boost to Amazon, Microsoft, Bank of America says  

October 2, 2018

Blockchain adoption will eventually be a multi billion-dollar opportunity for tech companies like Amazon and Microsoft, according to new estimates from Bank of America.  Based on the analysis, the entire total addressable market for blockchain will eventually hit $7 billion, though the analysts did not “attempt to put a time stamp” on it, as the technology is not yet widely adopted.  The potential beneficiaries could marry blockchain with existing cloud computing operations and improve supply chain operations, according to Bank of America research analyst Kash Rangan.  “Amazon will benefit from incremental cloud services demand from Blockchain implementation, while improved supply chain tracking should make Amazon’s retail operations more efficient,” Rangan said in a note to clients Tuesday. The estimates assume that 2 percent of servers will be used to run blockchain, at $5,500 per server, per year…more

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Congress must step up to save the US Postal Service as we know it

October 2, 2018

Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night keeps the U.S. Postal Service from delivering the mail, but if Congress doesn’t act soon, financial insolvency just might.  President Trump’s focus on the postal system and the rates it charges packagers attracted national media attention – and kicked off a presidential task force charged with coming up with recommendations for putting the Postal Service on firmer financial footing.  But then the national spotlight dimmed.  The presidential task force report (originally due in August) has been delayed, reportedly until after the mid-term elections. Yet the fiscal plight of the U.S. Postal Service continues to fester…more

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Amazon boosts minimum wage to $15 for all workers following criticism

October 2, 2018

Amazon.com announced Tuesday that it will raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour for all employees, a move that comes after the tech giant faced harsh criticism for how much it pays its workers and raises the stakes for retailers struggling to attract workers in a tight labor market.  The pay increase will affect 250,000 Amazon employees and 100,000 seasonal employees hired at Amazon sites during the holiday season. It will impact full-time and part-time workers, as well as Whole Foods Market employees, and will take effect Nov. 1  “We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do and decided we want to lead,” Amazon chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos said in a statement. “We’re excited about this change and encourage our competitors and other large employers to join us.”…more

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Royal Mail shares plummet by 18% after profits warning takes almost £860 million off company value

October 1, 2018

Nearly £860 million was wiped off Royal Mail’s value after its chief executive warned profits would be far lower than expected.  Just four months after taking over at the postal service, Rico Back said he was ‘very disappointed’ with the way the business was performing.  The 64-year-old German said profits this year would come in between £500 million and £550 million, significantly below the £694 million Royal Mail made last year.  He blamed a 7 per cent fall in the number of letters being posted, dismal productivity and problems keeping a lid on costs…more

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Thinking Holiday Peak Season? Don’t Forget Reverse Logistics

September 28, 2018

Holiday peak season doesn’t come to an end when the presents are unwrapped. For retailers, January and February mean holiday hangover. With a rise in orders comes a rise in returns – so much so that UPS has launched a “National Returns Day” in early January. On Jan. 3 2018, the carrier delivered 1.4 million returns, an 8% uptick from the prior year.  If you’re looking to revamp your warehouse processes to drive faster fulfillment, don’t forget that an efficient returns process is just as important in driving a better customer experience. Let’s take a look at how you can master reverse logistics and make the process count toward your bottom line this peak season and beyond…more

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Congressional opposition to Trump’s postal cuts, privatization plan grows

September 19, 2018

Lawmakers stand behind the “Federal agency with the highest public approval rating.”  A hefty, bipartisan congressional coalition wants to ensure that the mail carriers who trudge through snow, rain, heat and gloom of night are federal employees.  Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill increasingly appear ready to block President Trump’s plan to privatize and diminish the U.S. Postal Service (USPS).  With Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) taking the lead and 27 co-sponsors, including five Republicans, backing her, a significant segment of the Senate joins the House in telling Trump that a privatization plan would meet stiff opposition in Congress…more

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Mahindra Plans Autonomous USPS Mail Truck Tests in Michigan

September 19, 2018

Mahindra is one of five companies competing for a massive contract from the U.S. Postal Service to replace its aging fleet of delivery vehicles with 180,000 new-and-improved mail trucks. The Indian automaker may have something else up its sleeve for the project, as well: an autonomous mail truck…more

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Amazon incentivizes brands to create Frustration-Free Packaging

September 18, 2018

Yesterday, Amazon sent letters to thousands of brand-owner vendors affected by a new packaging program. So if you were wondering whether to design or redesign your packaging for the ecommerce channel, this might help you decide.  To help reduce packaging waste and improve efficiency of ecommerce shipping for its vendors, Amazon will require that select products being sold and fulfilled by Amazon arrive in its fulfillment centers in certified packaging under its Frustration-Free Packaging (FFP) program. This means that the packaging does not require any shipping preparation or an overbox to be applied. The vendor will retain its own branding on the shipment…more

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Going postal: how Donald Trump is threatening the international mail system

September 15, 2018

David Dodwell says the US president’s gripes that the American postal service is subsidizing other countries’ trade – and singling out China – may be justified but here, as elsewhere, unilateralism is not the way forward.  The blogger was furious: “I bought an item from a seller in Hong Kong for US$6 and US$1.50 shipping. The item was broken so the seller told me to return it for a refund. But to ship it back to Hong Kong with delivery confirmation using the US Postal Service will cost US$34.87. Without tracking it will cost US$11.48…more

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Flipkart has a plan to lower product returns, improve customer experience

September 13, 2018

BENGALURU: Online shoppers often make unique colloquial searches such as for ‘Madhuri Dixit saris’ and ‘Bollywood dresses’ while browsing for products on ecommerce platforms. That’s just one nugget of insight that Flipkart is sharing with its merchants to help them sell more on its platform.   Flipkart has started providing its sellers insights on customer behavior as well as trends of other merchants on the platform, while sharing with customers its scores for each seller based on product and service quality.  The aim is to lower product returns and improve customer experience……more

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Consumers Are Changing E-Commerce Preferences

September 13, 2018

Two years ago, customers wanted quality packaging and fast delivery, but now a “brand’s opportunity to reach, retain and extend customers’ lifetime value lies in giving them what they want, how and when they want it.”  Consumers prioritize convenience, experience and quality when making online purchases, according to the annual eCommerce study conducted by 3PL provider Dotcom Distribution.  “With e-commerce now such an integral part of life, we sought to discover what factors impact where customers decide to spend money,” says Maria Haggerty, CEO of Dotcom Distribution. “Two years ago, it was quality packaging and fast delivery. Today, while those factors are valued, a brand’s opportunity to reach, retain and extend customers’ lifetime value lies in giving them what they want, how and when they want it.”…more

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Businesses urge Trump admin. against Postal Service rate hikes

September 12, 2018

A group of major businesses is warning the Trump’s administration’s against making reforms to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) that would inflame tensions with online retailers like Amazon.  The Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service wrote Wednesday in a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that raising package rates and privatization should be off the table in an administration task-force review of the financially strapped USPS.  “We respectfully urge you, Mr. Secretary, to keep these notes of caution in mind as the task force reaches its conclusions and makes its recommendations to the president and ultimately the Congress,” wrote Art Sackler, the head of the coalition…more

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In-store retail remains key—particularly when it comes to returns

September 12, 2018

Rumors of the death of brick-and-mortar retail are still greatly exaggerated. In-store remains the most popular shopping experience in the majority of countries surveyed by JDA Software and Centiro in the just-released “2018 Global Consumer Survey. (One big exception was China, where online shopping is the preferred option.)  Respondents said that having the right product in stock is the most important aspect of their in-store shopping experience (34%), followed by having a variety of products to choose from (29%)…more

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Walmart built a new vending machine that retrieves groceries within seconds

September 11, 2018

Walmart has built a giant vending machine that dispenses online grocery orders in Sherman, Texas.  Walmart is expanding a test of automated kiosks that serve as vending machines for online grocery orders. The company is testing a new version of the kiosks that’s attached to a supercenter store in Sherman, Texas.  The kiosk retrieves customers’ online grocery orders within seconds.   The pickup kiosks are part of a broader effort by Walmart to more seamlessly integrate its online and offline services and leverage the power of its vast network of stores to better compete with Amazon.…more

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Fr8 Network: blockchain’s powerful potential for reverse logistics

September 6, 2018

The push-pull of technological innovations in transport and communications is nothing new. It’s all a matter of how the technology is adapted and brought into the current marketplace’s way of doing business. The pull of trade generates a push in both markets to invest in the newest transportation developments. This results in what transportation economists call the “double-stimulus” of trade. The growth of the freight industry in the 19th century is such an example. As railway lines extended into undeveloped locations, farming opportunities emerged that were previously uneconomic. This encouraged trade and settlement that made demand for the railways self-perpetuating. Sometimes, too, you have to move backward in order to move ahead.…more

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Proposed USPS Mail Changes Could Affect Industry

September 06, 2018

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has announced a proposed rule change to its Mailing Standards for Marketing Mail, which could have ramifications on promo firms.  The notice of the rule change, issued by the USPS in the Federal Register, would limit all USPS Marketing Mail, both regular and nonprofit and both letter-size and flat-size, to “content that is only paper-based/printed matter.” No other merchandise or goods of any type would be allowed to be shipped as Marketing Mail.  This means items often sent as direct-mail pieces or promos, such as pens, buttons, magnets and more, would need to be sent by another shipping method, such as Parcel Select or Priority Mail…more

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Trump’s silence about post-office report suggests his pricing claims proved false

September 05, 2018

Trump claimed Amazon’s business was a loss-maker for the U.S. Postal Service  President Trump has been mum about the task-force report on the U.S. Postal Service he ordered in April and received last month, which J.P. Morgan analyst Brian Ossenbeck interprets as a sign that Trump wasn’t very happy with the outcome:  ‘Moreover, after key Congressional committees recently viewed contracts with Amazon, FedEx and UPS we believe Trump’s loss-per-package talking points [were] clearly a hazardous guess.’  J.P. Morgan analyst Brian Ossenbeck.  Trump had issued an executive order on the night of April 12, calling for an evaluation of the USPS’s finances, after some analysts, a former Postmaster General and some news-service reports said Trump’s claim that the USPS lost $1.50 on every package it delivered for Amazon was not accuratemore

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Amazon orders 20,000 vans to build delivery fleet

September 05, 2018

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon has ordered 20,000 vans for its new delivery program in which contractors around the country can launch businesses that deliver packages for the online retailer.  The company said Wednesday that it increased its van order from 4,500 after it was surprised by the number of applications it received. The vans, which are stamped with Amazon’s smile logo in blue, can be used by contractors to deliver packages.  “We have been blown away,” said Dave Clark, Amazon’s senior vice president of worldwide operations. He said tens of thousands applied, but declined to give a specific number…more

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Two confirmed to USPS board of governors

September 05, 2018

After 20 months with no members, the United States Postal Service Board of Governors is no longer empty as two members were confirmed by the Senate on Aug. 28.  The board, which is charged with overseeing the federal agency and setting postal rates, had been without any members because of political stalemates that effectively blocked confirmation of new board members for years. The members are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate. The board also includes the postmaster general and deputy postmaster general.  Two of President Donald Trump’s initial nominees for the panel broke the impasse when the nominations of Robert M. Duncan of Kentucky and David C. Williams of Illinois, the former inspector general of the U.S. Postal Service, were confirmed by voice vote…more

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Nonprofit Mailers Challenges USPS’s Regulation Authority

September 04, 2018

U.S. Postal Service (USPS) does not have the legal authority to put in place regulations limiting what fundraisers can put in envelopes to content that is only paper-based, printed matter. The proposed regulation changes violate multiple federal codes and requires adoption by the USPS Board of Governors, according to a letter sent by the Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers to the USPS.  The USPS proposal posted via an Advanced Federal Register Notice on August 23 would limit all USPS Marketing Mail, regular and nonprofit, “letter-size and flat-size, to content that is only paper-based/printed matter.” No merchandise or goods will be allowed of any type regardless of “value.”  Charities use premiums to acquire donors and to renew them. For example, religious organizations often include plastic prayer cards or rosary beads in fundraising appeals. The change would also impact periodical publications of nonprofits that cannot feasibly satisfy the subscriber or requester requirements for Periodicals Mail rates…more

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NonstopDelivery Announces Rebrand to NSD

September 04, 2018

CHANTILLY, Va., Sept. 4, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — NonstopDelivery, a leading national provider of last mile delivery and logistics services, today announced the company’s rebrand to NSD.  The rebranding includes the new name, a redesigned website and new URL (www.shipnsd.com), modernized logo, new graphics and “Going the Extra Mile” tagline.  “Our rebranding to NSD and ‘Going the Extra Mile’ tagline reflects our evolution over the past 18 years as an innovative leader committed to providing exceptional home delivery solutions and our focus on the customer experience,” says Steve Senkus, Founder and CEO of NSD.  In addition to the rebranding initiative, NSD recently completed the expansion of its Corporate Headquarters in Chantilly, VA and the implementation of its enhanced technology platform…more

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Senate cancels postal service hearing; Trump’s Amazon crusade delayed

August 31, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – A Senate hearing about reforming the U.S. Postal Service that could have scrutinized what Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) and others pay for package delivery has been delayed, three sources familiar with the matter told Reuters, moving back President Donald Trump’s effort to hike the world’s largest online retailer’s rates.  Trump has repeatedly attacked Amazon on Twitter for treating the Postal Service as its “delivery boy” by paying less than it should for deliveries and contributing to the service’s $65 billion loss since the global financial crisis of 2007-2009, without presenting evidence.  The president ordered a task force in April to study the Postal Service, an independent establishment of the executive branch of the U.S. government, looking at its financial health and what it charges customers such as Amazon for package deliveries, in a report due Aug. 10.  However, the White House has decided it will not yet release the report, forcing the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs to postpone a hearing on postal reform that was planned for Sept. 5, the sources said. One said the hearing was postponed “indefinitely.”…more

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Happy Returns makes major retail expansion with Paper Source partnership

August 29, 2018

The return management vendor has 260 Return Bar locations across 50 metro areas, letting customers return online orders at other retailers’ stores.  Mailing back returns can be a hassle for consumers. They have to repackage the product, print the return label if it wasn’t included in the box and get it to a carrier. But that’s not all; they then must wait for the return to process and the money to make its way back into their account.  Returning a product to a store is much simpler. For retailers with a physical presence, 46.7% of shoppers in a recent survey from Internet Retailer conducted by Bizrate Insights prefer to return products to stores, while just 26.7% prefer shipping it back. Others had no preference…more

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How retailers are recouping costs from returned merchandise

August 29, 2018

Returned purchases are a major drain on retailers, particularly after consumer purchase activity spikes around holidays. Retailers are trying to make some money off returned goods, often through third-party logistics companies that route them back to off-price clearing centers, charities, and e-commerce markets for used goods.  Last week, outdoor goods retailer REI launched its used goods e-commerce store, a move it said would let it more cost effectively re-sell used goods while responding to customers who have been demanding affordable, high-quality used outdoor goods. It’s beta tested the site since October of last year…more

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Retail Technology Provider Narvar Raises $30 Million in New Funding

August 28, 2018

Retail technology provider Narvar has raised $30 million in new funding to back what the company says will be aggressive expansion of a business that supports e-commerce platforms for companies including Costco Wholesale Corp. COST -0.01% , Gap Inc. GPS -0.13% and Levi Strauss & Co.  The new funding round, led by venture capital firm Accel with Battery Ventures, Salesforce Ventures and Scale Venture Partners, brings the company’s total raised to $64 million since the business launched in Silicon Valley in 2012. Narvar said the funding will support refining its technology, which is helping retailers manage deliveries and returns for online orders, and an expansion into Asia and Europe…more

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Reverse logistics – who does it well? From MHD magazine

August 28, 2018

It would be tempting to think of reverse logistics as forward logistics done backwards. Tempting, but wrong. Reverse logistics isn’t simply a reverse gear. Almost everything can change. Products come back in dribs-and-drabs, not in neatly packaged batches. They don’t come back to predefined schedules. They don’t even come back in the same state in which they went out.  Reverse logistics can also have a dramatic effect on steering a company’s fortunes. Go one way and you can boost profitability, customer loyalty, and brand image. Go another way and you’ll leak dollars, lose customers, and even run afoul of regulations about what to do with stuff that people no longer want. Reverse logistics is therefore worth doing, and worth doing properly…more

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How Blockchain Can Address Reverse Logistics Challenges

August 28, 2018

The promise of blockchain is large and surrounded by much hype. Working our way through all the hype, we have come to the realization that if successfully deployed, the technology has the potential to fundamentally alter the way we manage reverse logistics. The following is a brief discussion on just a few of the ways reverse logistics can and will benefit from blockchain.  Blockchain is a decentralized ledger that uses distributed peer-to-peer consensus to verify and authenticate all information recorded within the ledger. Some of the universal benefits of blockchain include the following…more

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Do Consumers Have the Last Word in Last Mile Delivery?

August 23, 2018

The “Last Mile” in eCommerce delivery has been a constant discussion topic over the last several years. The challenge of putting goods in consumers’ hands when and where they wish has produced a plethora of attempts find the right solution but the search continues.  The Last Mile discussion includes a number of issues including speed of not only delivery but end to end order fulfillment, security, cost, visibility and reliability.  These factors plus the fact that consumers have different and changing preferences almost guarantees that no one solution is ideal.  Indeed, startup companies in the last mile delivery business have found the issues daunting and a number of them, such as Doorman and Shyp have failed. Others such as, ShipBob, have altered their business model to find a profitable approach. Still some efforts, at least to date, appear to be viable such as Deliv where their business model properly considers the economic and market forces at work…more

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DHL unit tests program to manage returns of cross-border e-commerce

August 23, 2018

The global e-commerce unit of transport and logistics titan Deutsche Post DHL is piloting a program designed to facilitate the returns process for international e-commerce, a segment that is expected to grow as international e-commerce expands.  Charles Brewer, CEO of DHL eCommerce, said today that the program, which began about a month ago, is being tested in both directions on the U.S.-United Kingdom and U.S.-Australia trade lanes. The plan is for the unit to cover all aspects of cross-border returns, including a straight return to the product seller, consolidation of return shipments at the warehouse and distribution center level, disposal of low-value returned items, and the recovery, repair and repurposing of returns deemed to have a shelf life, Brewer said in an interview at DHL eCommerce’s offices in Norcross, Ga., an Atlanta suburb.  The program aims to leverage all parts of the DHL enterprise, Brewer said. For example, DHL Supply Chain, one of the world’s largest operators of contract warehouse and DC space, will be involved in the consolidation process, according to Brewer. DHL Express, the unit’s express operations, will be involved in the transportation…more

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DHL unit tests program to manage returns of cross-border e-commerce

August 23, 2018

The global e-commerce unit of transport and logistics titan Deutsche Post DHL is piloting a program designed to facilitate the returns process for international e-commerce, a segment that is expected to grow as international e-commerce expands.  Charles Brewer, CEO of DHL eCommerce, said today that the program, which began about a month ago, is being tested in both directions on the U.S.-United Kingdom and U.S.-Australia trade lanes. The plan is for the unit to cover all aspects of cross-border returns, including a straight return to the product seller, consolidation of return shipments at the warehouse and distribution center level, disposal of low-value returned items, and the recovery, repair and repurposing of returns deemed to have a shelf life, Brewer said in an interview at DHL eCommerce’s offices in Norcross, Ga., an Atlanta suburb…more

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Send It Back! How to Manage E-Commerce Returns

August 22, 2018

Up to 30 percent of e-commerce orders shipped to customers wind up coming back. Here’s how smart retailers box up their reverse logistics strategies.  Buy something online, and there’s more than a one-in-four chance you’ll send it back. Consumers who use e-commerce return their purchases 25 to 30 percent of the time, says a study by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) at the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). For brick-and-mortar stores, the return rate is just 9 percent.  Those figures should come as no surprise. After all, when you buy online you often take a leap of faith, hoping the sweater will look as good on you as on the model, or the headphones will provide rich, natural sound.  Increasingly, online merchants offer simple, free returns to win consumers’ trust, says Ian Stanford, a public policy analyst at the USPS OIG and co-author of the study, Riding the Returns Wave: Reverse Logistics and the U.S. Postal Service…more

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3PL Turns to Automation to Offset Workforce Shortages

August 22, 2018

Faced with a declining pool of warehouse workers and a rapidly expanding e-commerce business, third-party logistics provider ODW relies more on automated packing equipment.Third-party logistics provider ODW Logistics’ new 200,000 sq-ft technology center near Columbus, OH, is ready for multiple e-commerce customers/shippers.  The location provides ODW with a strategic hub located within a 10-hr drive to nearly 50% of the U.S. population and one-third of Canada. The Columbus center is equipped with technologies such as barcode scanning, manifesting software, static and in-motion scales, box dimensioning equipment, print-and-apply labelers, and sortation capabilities…more

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Reverse Logistics Market is Booming Worldwide| Aqua Logistics, Total Logistics, Darcl Logistics

August 21, 2018

HTF Market Intelligence released a new research report of 99 pages on title ‘Reverse Logistics Market in India 2012’ with detailed analysis, forecast and strategies. The study covers key regions that includes United States, Europe, China, Japan, India and important players such as Aqua Logistics, Total Logistics, Darcl Logistics, etc.  Summary  Government concern for sustainability and manufacturers continuous endeavor to garner customer satisfaction are the key drivers of reverse logistics. Significance of reverse logistics is perceived from both economic as well as environmental perspective. To state it simply, reverse logistics stands for any operation that involves the reuse of damaged or faulty products after its refurbishment…more

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PostalVision 2020 Tackles Retail Returns

August 20, 2018

PostalVision 2020 and the Reverse Logistics Association (RLA) are holding an event to tackle the issue of product returns. “Return to the Future” is a one-day event taking place on September 20, 2018 and will focus on the growing opportunities and challenges being seen with product returns.  PostalVision 2020 describes the challenge for shippers and retailers: “Consumers are demanding fast, easy, and inexpensive product returns options. Shippers are scurrying to develop low-cost and customer-centric services for consumer returns. Retailers are exploring different returns models that keep customers happy but also keep their costs of returns under control, or even make returns a profit center for the business!”…more

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Reverse Logistics: Top Considerations for The Perfect Returns Policy

August 20, 2018

There’s just no way around it; returns are just inherently part of e-commerce. With some e-commerce businesses, handling reverse logistics is just more complicated than sourcing goods and fulfilling orders through a 3PL of a third-party logistics company. However, even if this is the case for you, you must still have a fair and clear returns policy. That being said, when reviewing or creating a returns policy, below are some vital things to consider: Which Products Are Returnable and Which Products Aren’t.  Even if you have an extensive list of non-returnable items, if you clearly state why and the logic behind it is sound, you shouldn’t have issues with your customers, says a top logistics consulting provider in the area. For example, it’s common to refuse returns of undergarments and bathing suits for hygienic purposes…more

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Big-Box Last Mile Delivery is Blowing Up – How Can 3PLs be Poised to Act?

August 20, 2018

E-commerce retail disruption seems to come in waves. In the last decade, we’ve seen the transformation of the retail industry for books, electronics, apparel, music, tickets, and travel.  E-commerce disrupts more than just retail, though. It’s a logistics story, too. Savvy third-party logistics providers (3PLs) are eyeing the horizon, poised to catch the next wave. It’s one with enormous implications for 3PLs: furniture, appliances, and equipment.  Growth in this category has been recent and sudden. Until the end of 2015, category growth was in line with overall e-commerce retail. In the fourth quarter of 2015, however, e-commerce sales of these bulky goods peeled away. Growth reached a peak in late 2017, when the “furniture, appliances, and equipment” category grew 32% over the prior year, according to media measurement and analytics firm comScore…more

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Trump-Amazon feud shadows critical Postal Service report

August 15, 2018

The Trump administration is expected to release a report in the coming weeks on reforming the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), an event that could revive President Trump’s feud with Amazon.  Trump earlier this year assembled a task force to recommend fixes for the Postal Service’s fiscal woes soon after he accused the online retail giant of abusing its relationship with the USPS.  Business groups worry the task force could recommend an increase in shipping rates, something that could threaten Amazon’s lucrative arrangement with the USPS…more

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New USPS service alerts you about missing mail

August 15, 2018

MICHIGAN, (WNEM) –  A new, free service through the U.S. Post Office could help ease your mind about whether you’re missing any mail. The service is called Informed Delivery. It’s used by more than 11 million people nationwide.  The service sends you a text or email every day around 9 a.m. with pictures of the mail you will receive that day. The only days you will not receive a notification are on holidays or Sundays when there is no mail service…more

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The Amazon Prime Effect: Rising Expectations for E-Commerce Delivery and Fulfillment

August 14, 2018

If the 100 million-plus shoppers who pay $119 a year for fast shipping via Amazon Prime are any indication, a smooth and expedient delivery and fulfillment process is crucial to e-commerce success. And expectations are rising.  According to a recent survey of 3,000 online shoppers from Canada, the U.K. and the U.S., younger generations are particularly critical, with less than half of respondents between the ages of 18 and 34 saying that they receive their orders on time and in perfect condition. These findings are published in a new report from Radial, “The Everyday Essentials of Successful E-Commerce Fulfillment.”…more

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Returns in the Supply Chain: Completing the Circular Lifecycle of Inventory

August 13, 2018

Try this on for size: In 2017, there were $351 billion worth of returns in the United States retail market. Putting this figure in perspective, were that dollar value the revenue of a retailer, it would be the second largest behind Walmart (Walmart is at $363 billion, with the second-place retailer, Kroger, at $110 billion in revenue). Returns have always been a part of retail, but are often not viewed as a priority. Retailers and brands can no longer look at this part of their supply chain as an afterthought; rather, they need to determine how they can leverage this inventory strategically. Returns represent working inventory that, when properly utilized, have value within the supply chain — both for the physical asset and, perhaps more importantly, the financial aspect…more

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Walmart Improves Online Return Policy in Latest Joust with Amazon

August 9, 2018

Soon after Amazon AMZN announced its new in-car Whole Foods grocery pickup service, another retail giant, Walmart WMT , shared its plan to make returning products easier for customers.  Although the two companies have their differences, they both have well-known e-commerce marketplaces which enabled third party sellers to sell their items to customers. Starting this fall, customers will be able to print the shipping labels right from the Walmart.com website, even if they are buying goods from third parties. The website will also clearly indicate the return policies…more

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Know More About Reverse Logistics Market with Prediction by Leading Manufacturers, Recent Trends and Analysis of Developed Regions Between 2018-2023

August 9, 2018

The Global Reverse Logistics Market Report includes a comprehensive analysis of the present market. The report starts with the basic Reverse Logistics Market overview and then goes into each and every detail.   This press release was originally distributed by SBWire  Pune, India — (SBWIRE) — 08/09/2018 — Reverse Logistics stands for all operations related to the reuse of products and materials. It is the process of planning, implementing and controlling efficient, cost effective flow of raw materials, in-process inventory, finished goods and related information from the point of consumption to the point of origin for the purpose of recapturing value or proper disposal. This process includes the management and the sale of surplus as well as returned equipment and machines from the hardware leasing business. Reverse Logistics is sometimes called aftermarket supply chain, aftermarket logistics or retrogistics…more

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Returns Are the Achilles Heel of Ecommerce

August 9, 2018

Walmart may leverage its physical stores to facilitate returns of items sold by third-party marketplace sellers, according to CNBC, which could help it compete against Amazon.  Marketplaces are growing obsessed with returns as a way to improve conversion rates to boost sales growth. But that has the potential to harm sellers of low-margin goods, fragile items, or unique inventory such as antiques and collectibles…more

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Postal Service Loses $1.5B in Third Quarter Despite Growing Revenue

August 9, 2018

The U.S. Postal Service on Thursday announced a net loss of $1.5 billion in the third quarter of fiscal 2018, including a more than 50 percent increase in what the agency deems “controllable losses” over the same period last year.  The news was not all bad for USPS, as its revenue grew over the April-June period by $400 million. The cash inflow grew by 2.4 percent to $17 billion, and has increased by $600 million year-to-date. The total losses were also a 36 percent decrease from the same quarter in fiscal 2017, though USPS officials cautioned that the improvement was driven by non-recurring accounting changes….more

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Trump’s Postal Task Force Has Recommendations Ready for the President

August 8, 2018

A task force commissioned by President Trump to recommend steps to put the U.S. Postal Service on firmer financial footing has finished drafting a report, according to an administration official, and is preparing to brief the president on it when he returns to Washington, D.C. The executive order that created the task force, which Trump signed in April, gave the group four months to deliver its recommendations. That deadline was set for Aug. 10. The task force plans to deliver the report to the White House this week, a Treasury Department spokesperson told Government Executive, and will provide the president with a briefing next week when he is expected to return from New Jersey…more

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Future of USPS, Vital to Ecommerce, to Be Determined

August 8, 2018

This is a big week for retailers and online marketplaces that rely on the postal service to get ecommerce packages delivered. The President’s task force on postal reform will publish its recommendations on Friday – the day after the USPS publishes financial results for the most recent quarter.  While postal reform appears inevitable (and long overdue), there’s a more controversial call to privatize the post office, which readers discussed in this EcommerceBytes Blog post, where you can also find more information about the administration’s views.  Members of Congress are divided on the issue of privatization, but some have proactively drafted a resolution opposing it. Postcom reported that on July 13, Representatives Stephen Lynch (D-MA) and Rodney Davis (R-IL) introduced a resolution calling on Congress to take all appropriate measures to ensure that the Postal Service remain an independent agency of the federal government and not be subject to privatization…more

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PUDO to facilitate UK-bound e-commerce returns

August 8, 2018

TORONTO – PUDO Inc., a North American courier-neutral Pick-Up Drop-Off Network, has entered an agreement with Delivery Net Inc., and ReBOUND to allow Canadian consumers to use PUDOpoints for returning purchases from major UK fashion and lifestyle websites including ASOS and Mango.  This integration utilizing the ReBOUND returns management platform, represents PUDO’s first foray into UK e-commerce, a thriving ecosystem in which 75 percent of consumers shop online, spending more per capita than any other nation.  “The signing of this Agreement is significant for PUDO in that it represents confidence in our technology and in our Network,” said PUDO CEO Kurtis Arnold.  “The UK is ahead of us in terms of parcel delivery and return logistics with an entrenched PUDO-like network of pick-up/return locations across the UK and Western Europe. In an increasingly global marketplace, they understand the benefits of extending that network overseas and integrating it into their returns protocol.”…more

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Trump’s privatization plan would destroy the Postal Service

August 7, 2018

The post office has been woven into the fabric of American society since 1775, when the Second Continental Congress appointed Benjamin Franklin as the first postmaster general. Today, the U.S. Postal Service is the most popular government agency in the country, with a favorability rating of nearly 90 percent. But now, President Trump is apparently bent on destroying it.  This week, a task force created following an April executive order from Trump, is scheduled to deliver its recommendations for an overhaul of the Postal Service. Led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, the task force is expected to endorse the privatization proposal buried in the White House’s plan to reorganize the federal government — a radical assault on the administrative state…more

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 Deadline for PostalPitch startup competition fast approaching

August 7, 2018

The deadline for the next PostalPitch Startup Day competition, which will be held at Post-Expo 2018 in Hamburg, Germany, on October 9, is fast approaching. Startups need to ensure their entries are submitted by August 19.  The competition invites startups to present innovative products or solutions with a unique value proposition that may have the potential to change the postal and logistics market or even create a new market.  Startups will be given the opportunity to present their idea to a wide audience at Post-Expo. A jury of postal and logistics experts, including from Deutsche Post DHL, Liban Post and Swiss Post, will select a winner, who will receive the StartUp Innovation Award.  The award will presented to the winning company alongside the Postal and Parcel Technology International Awards ceremony at Post-Expo on October 9…more

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 Robot vs man in the last mile

August 7, 2018

Posten Norge will soon trial robot delivery, but is it a practical idea? Marek Różycki (Last Mile Experts) and Ian Kerr (Postal Hub Podcast) analyze the pros and cons of autonomous last-mile delivery.  Norway’s Posten Norge has announced a partnership with an autonomous vehicle company to develop robots – or AGVs – to deliver the last mile. The new robot will be tested for residential delivery later this year. But is it a practical idea?  The ‘last foot’  Posten Norge isn’t first out of the gates when it comes to autonomous delivery. Land-based robots have been trialled for delivery, including an ambitious announcement from Daimler last year that would see its vans transport armies of Starship robots about the suburbs. Similarly, aerial drone delivery has been trialled in various parts of the world.  These autonomous vehicles always struggle with the ‘last foot’. That is, the robot can’t ring a customer’s doorbell, open a standard letterbox, or chat about the weather with customers…more

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The U.S. Postal Service Just Profiled Millennials, Then Made This Goofy Picture of Them

August 6, 2018

The USPS has a serious problem with Millennials using the mail. And an even more serious problem understanding how to win them back, minus the goofy cartoon drawings.  Millennials are standing around a Post Office box. One has a letter in his hand, and another has a package. Of course there’s one riding a bike, and two are walking a dog. There’s quite a few who appear to have trendy hairstyles and skinny jeans.  There’s only one problem.  Millennials are not using the post office. In fact, in a report that attempts to explain how Millennials are using the mail and how the USPS can appeal to them again, many of the findings seem like they are a total shot in the dark…more

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A New UPS Union Contract Shows How Online Shopping Is Dragging Down Delivery Jobs

August 3, 2018

A proposal between the Teamsters and UPS would create a separate category of lower-paid drivers to help deliver your stuff from Amazon.  Pretty soon there may be a new kind of delivery driver working alongside Ken Smith at his UPS facility in Tempe, Ariz. ― drivers who do pretty much the same work, only for less pay and over the weekend.  Smith’s union, the Teamsters, is negotiating a new five-year collective bargaining agreement with UPS that will cover a whopping 260,000 workers. The tentative agreement that’s been reached would create a new class of “hybrid” drivers who would have two duties: sorting packages at UPS facilities and delivering them out on the truck. Their work week would include Saturdays and likely Sundays as well.  The new classification would grant some relief to harried drivers like Smith who want to avoid weekend work and help UPS become more nimble in the hyper-competitive age of Amazon. But it comes with a big catch…more

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Amazon forms U.S. Postal Service lobby group with other companies

August 1, 2018

Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) and other retail and logistics companies said on Wednesday they had started a new group to lobby to keep the U.S. Postal Service’s (USPS) package delivery services “reliable and affordable.” The announcement comes days before a task force set up by President Donald Trump is due to recommend postal reforms to the White House. Trump has said without evidence that the world’s largest online retailer is making the postal service incur losses, mandating the task force review USPS pricing on package delivery. While Amazon has steered clear of any quarrel with the president, the Package Coalition is now poised to take the company’s case to the public as the government weighs changes affecting USPS…more

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Retail Returns Specialist Optoro Raises $75 Million in New Funding

July 30, 2018

Logistics technology specialist Optoro Inc. has raised $75 million in new funding to expand development and sales of its software aimed at helping retailers handle returns and resales of merchandise, a capability taking on greater importance under e-commerce.  The new funding round, led by Franklin Templeton Investments, a unit of Franklin Resources Inc., BEN 5.73% brings the company’s total capital raised to $200 million. Optoro said the round included new and existing investors, including a large state pension fund. The company declined to disclose its current valuation.  Optoro is one of a handful of third-party software and logistics companies working to improve the costly returns process, known as reverse logistics, for retail sales that are increasingly happening online. Optoro estimates the annual U.S. market for customer returns is $380 billion and is growing rapidly as consumers get more comfortable buying and returning online purchases…more

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How to build customer loyalty with shipping

July 30, 2018

We’re all familiar with the oft-cited claim: it’s more expensive to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. There are plenty of articles, infographics, and ebooks that offer online retailers various ways to improve customer retention. The problem is that many of these resources fail to discuss one part of the e-commerce experience that is a perfect opportunity to increase customer loyalty: shipping.  Some retailers see shipping and delivery as solely utilitarian. In reality, how you handle this process can be a big indicator of your commitment to your customers.  Here are three ways you can create a shipping experience that encourages customer loyalty…more

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Omnichannel Starts In the Palm of Your Hand

July 30, 2018

Traditional brick-and-mortar retail isn’t going extinct; it’s just evolving. The retail storefront is no longer the place customers go to find the items they want. Rather, it’s the final destination for customers to have experiences and interact with their favorite brands. As a result, retailers are turning their focus to blending the perfect “bricks-and-clicks” omnichannel strategy to drive their customers back to the store.  This strategy starts in the palm of the customer’s hand. “Near me” and “where to buy” mobile searches exploded by 300% and 85% respectively from 2015 to 2017 across all industries. Gartner L2’s Mobile Marketing report also credits mobile for 59% of all retail traffic, a clear indication that consumers look for products online before they even think about going to a store…more

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Walmart discovers why the ‘last mile’ is the hardest

July 30, 2018

Standing before an audience of 14,000 people last year, Walmart Inc executives described a radical plan to help it fend off Amazon.com Inc and other online delivery services from stealing its customers.  Walmart’s own store employees would bring online orders directly to shoppers’ homes after completing their usual shifts of up to nine hours on the sales floors. Aiming to lower the retailer’s shipping costs by tapping its massive workforce, the program was part of a multi-pronged strategy to boost its $11.5 billion U.S. ecommerce business and tackle one of the biggest challenges in retail: the so-called “last mile” of delivering goods to online customers.  Its workers, meanwhile, could earn extra money on top of their hourly pay, which starts at $11 an hour…more

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Returns: Record-breaking Prime Day’s aftermath

July 26, 2018

Suppliers and retailers must prepare for a surge in consumers returning goods — or risk products turning in to “dead money.”  Now in its fourth year, Amazon Prime Day has grown into a major shopping event that not only drives online sales but creates ripple effects throughout the entire retail industry. Several retailers now piggyback on the event with their own “Black Friday in July” sales and report a bump in revenues in the days surrounding the 36-hour event. Best Buy, Macy’s and Lowe’s all held special in-store and online sales while Target announced its own day of deals with “no membership required.”  But much like what happens during the Christmas holidays, big sales can come with big returns. Now in the middle of its 30-day return period from Prime Day, Amazon and several retailers are likely fielding the return of hundreds of thousands or even millions of products…more

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Trump is doubling down on his claims that Amazon uses the US Postal Service as a ‘delivery boy,’ and it could be a major blow to countless American businesses

July 23, 2018

President Donald Trump is doubling down on his claims that Amazon is abusing its relationship with the US Postal Service.  “The Amazon Washington Post has gone crazy against me ever since they lost the Internet Tax Case in the U.S. Supreme Court two months ago,” Trump tweeted on Monday. “Next up is the U.S. Post Office which they use, at a fraction of real cost, as their ‘delivery boy’ for a BIG percentage of their packages.”  The tweet is part of a months-long battle that Trump has waged against Amazon, focusing on the e-commerce giant’s use of the USPS for deliveries.  In April, Trump ordered the formation of a task force to investigate the USPS and what he called its “unsustainable financial path.” The order said the USPS had lost $65 billion since the Great Recession and needed to be “restructured to prevent a taxpayer-funded bailout.” …more

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USPS Executives to Speak on Returns Solutions

July 23, 2018

“Return to the Future” Registration Now OPEN!  Arlington, Va. – PostalVision 2020 and the Reverse Logistics Association (RLA) are excited to make this first announcement of speakers for the upcoming “Return to the Future” one-day event to be held Thursday, September 20, 2018. USPS Vice President of Product Innovation Gary Reblin and USPS Director of Product Management, Shipping, Jay Smith both will be speaking at the event, with presentation focusing on how the USPS is working to build and enhance its product returns solutions and support the returns/reverse logistics and retail ecosystems.  Reblin is no stranger to PostalVision events, having served on the PostalPitch startup competition jury with the finalists presenting and winner awarded at the PostalVision 2018 annual event. Both Reblin and Smith work in USPS areas focused on product innovation – something critical in the returns/reverse logistics ecosystem. “We are excited, as always, to have a great level of USPS participation in the event,” said PostalVision director John Callan. “Gary and Jay have a wealth of knowledge in the parcels and shipping industry that is invaluable to these discussions and the USPS is well-suited to provide a variety of returns solutions.” “The Postal Service is an integral piece of the reverse logistics and returns supply chain,” said RLA executive director Tony Sciarrotta. “The USPS network and solutions are an important part of the discussion on the future of returns.”…more

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Customer expectation of free returns puts the squeeze on small retailers

July 22, 2018

With the generous online return policies of many larger retailers, consumers have grown accustomed to free returns.  In fact, the promise of free or cheap returns has led to more so-called “intentional returns.” A recent report by Brightpearl found that one quarter of survey respondents said they have bought multiple items with the intention of sending some back.  Given the added costs to process returns, retailers must understand their return volume and develop a strategy to meet customer expectations while not adversely impacting their bottom lines, say experts…more

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Resolution Opposing Privatization of the Postal Service Introduced in Congress

July 19, 2018

On July 16, a leading group of Congressional representatives took action to help combat a proposal to privatize the Postal Service. The proposal, put forward by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget in their report Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century, would “restructure the U.S. Postal Service” and “prepare it for future conversion from a government agency into a privately-held corporation.”  APWU thanks the bipartisan group of representatives for introducing House Resolution 993 in response to this attack. The resolution calls on Congress to take all appropriate measures to ensure that the United States Postal Service remains an independent establishment of the Federal Government and not be subject to privatization.  The resolution was introduced by Rodney Davis (R-IL) and Stephen Lynch (D-MA) and co-sponsored by Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Paul Cook (R-CA), Brian Mast (R-FL), Don Young (R-AK), Cedric Richmond (D-LA), Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Dave Loebsack (D-IA) and Marcia Fudge (D-OH)…more

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McCaskill says rural America would be hurt by U.S. Postal Service privatization

July 19, 2018

The Trump administration is proposing to restructure the U.S. Postal Service. President Donald Trump says privatizing the agency would allow the postal service to increase prices, deliver mail fewer days a week and give it greater flexibility during today’s digital world. During a committee hearing this week in Washington about the proposed plan, Missouri U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill says the business model would result in one reality.  “The same reality that faced rural communities when it was time for them to get electricity—the same reality that faces rural communities when they need to get broadband. And that is, there is no business model that will provide the level of profit that that last mile of real estate requires,” McCaskill says.  The Postal Service has been asking for flexibility to increase prices and ease some of the burdens of its workers’ retirement benefits…more

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UPS Tests Amazon Key-Like Apartment Building Delivery System

July 18, 2018

UPS is only using Latch systems to enter buildings, not individual apartments. When making a delivery, the UPS delivery driver will receive a unique credential which can be used for access.  If you live in an apartment building without a doorman, receiving packages can be a pain. UPS is looking to change that with a new Amazon Key-like delivery service it’s piloting with smart access device maker Latch.  Latch’s system lets residents and others unlock doors throughout a building with just a smartphone. Now, UPS is using the system to enter apartment buildings and drop off packages…more

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Managing Ecommerce Returns While Maximizing Profits

July 18, 2018

How to stop returns from being a loss leader by turning them into an ecommerce asset.  We’ve all seen an infomercial that promises to let you return an item if you’re at all unhappy with your purchase. “If for any reason you’re no longer satisfied with your Snuggie, simply return it for a full refund. No questions asked.” Many ecommerce return policies are based on this philosophy of risk-reversal. If you take away the risk of purchasing with a generously crafted return policy, people will be more likely to buy … But wait there’s more!…more

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Recent News in Our Ecosystem

Owning an Amazon delivery business: The risks, rewards and economic realities of the tech giant’s new program for entrepreneurs

July 15, 2018

Amazon has a new idea for anyone who has ever dreamed of owning and running a small business, but was daunted by the hurdles, or didn’t know where to start: Launch and run an independent company of your own to deliver its packages.  Intrigued? As with any new business, it won’t be easy. That’s why Amazon promises to help you get started, and provide a steady source of revenue once your company is up and running. It’s a rare opportunity to hitch your entrepreneurial fortunes to one of the fastest-moving companies in the world.  But even with Amazon’s help, it will take an immense amount of work and effort to make your new package delivery business even modestly profitable.  That is a key takeaway from GeekWire’s analysis of the Amazon Delivery Service Partner program. This program is a new effort by the tech giant to spark the creation of hundreds of small businesses across the country. Launched with its help, Amazon hopes these businesses will ultimately employ tens of thousands of delivery drivers in Prime-branded blue vans and uniforms…more

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Recent News in Our Ecosystem

Amazon’s share of the US e-commerce market is now 49%, or 5% of all retail spend

July 13, 2018

Amazon has already been in the crosshairs of the White House when it comes to threats of antitrust investigations, and while some say this is simply Trumpian bluster that has a slim chance of going anywhere, some new numbers out from the researchers at eMarketer could prove to be a fan to the flames. Amazon is set to clear $258.22 billion in US retail sales in 2018, according to eMarketer’s figures, which will work out to 49.1 percent of all online retail spend in the country, and 5 percent of all retail sales…more

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FedEx Isn’t Worried About Amazon At All

July 13, 2018

FedEx Corporation stock is down more than 6.6 percent in 2018, and the threat of competition from Amazon.com (AMZN) is a big reason why. However, Bank of America analyst Ken Hoexter met with FedEx management this week, and the company insists that Amazon is more friend than foe. Hoexter says FedEx still has a number of long-term advantages over Amazon and other competitors, and the company has a fairly impressive growth outlook. FedEx is targeting 9 percent revenue growth in fiscal 2019 and at least $1.2 billion in its express unit’s operating income growth. Management said its ground operations can eventually grow operating margins into the upper teens, a slightly more optimistic outlook than the mid-teens target the company previously discussed…more

 

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Wincanton pick ZigZag global as retail returns partner

July 11, 2018

ZigZag Global, PostalPitch winner at PostalVision’s 2018 conference, has been picked by Wincanton to partner in retail returns.  Wincanton have announced a new strategic partnership with ZigZag Global to gain access to a comprehensive, end to end return solution for the retail market. This partnership forms a part of Wincanton’s recently announced eFulfilment proposition and marks another step in the development of Wincanton’s wider W2 Partner Network.  “The changing nature of online sales, coupled with new innovations in the marketplace, means that the retail sector is being disrupted at an unprecedented rate. This is putting retailers under huge pressure to improve their customer service levels, especially the way in which they manage returns so that the customer is able to rapidly repurchase alternative goods.  In ZigZag, Wincanton has identified a partner with substantial expertise, and a compelling approach to tackling the returns challenge. By integrating Wincanton’s eFulfilment proposition with ZigZag’s technology, we are able to help retailers process and consolidate returns, thereby reducing costs, as well as the burden on their customer service teams. As part of our W2 Partner Network, this agreement is a key differentiator for us.” – Paul Durkin, Director Home and eFulfilment, Wincantonmore

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Shoppers happy to fork out for quick delivery despite two thirds revealing bad experiences

July 10, 2018

Nearly half of customers (45%) are happy to pay an extra £3-6 for a specific or quicker delivery time, despite almost two thirds (65%) having had a bad delivery experience, according to a consumer study commissioned by enterprise solutions provider HSO.  The poll also revealed that 13% of consumers would be happy to pay between £6-10 while 8% stated that they would not pay anything extra to secure a faster delivery time.  The study discovered that of those two thirds that had a bad delivery experience, more than a third (38%) have had goods arrive late while nearly a quarter (22%) received packages left in the wrong place. Some consumers also noted that despite being ready to receive the delivery, they received a message from the courier citing that it could not be delivered.  HSO sales director Hector Hickmott said: “In today’s retail sector convenience is key, people are used to getting things instantly in most areas of their lives thanks to the internet and obtaining goods should be no exception. Retailers must be able to meet these customer expectations to retain business and remain competitive. To deliver this an effective logistics network is critical.”  The research also discovered that the option to ‘click and collect’ products from a store remains a popular choice among shoppers with 52% opting to use this method 2-10 times in the past year…more

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USPS has a new way to ensure you get all of your mail: Money Matters

July 8, 2018

Q: We don’t have a locking mailbox like you suggest, but we do take advantage of a very useful service offered by the U.S. Postal Service called Informed Daily Delivery Digest. You need to create an account with the Postal Service (which is also very handy for all sorts of things such as creating and paying for shipping labels, requesting package pick-up, buying stamps, and such).  Once you establish an account, you can sign up for the optional Daily Digest service, which provides an email with pictures of the mail that is expected to be delivered to you each day, along with an accounting of any packages expected.  And, if you don’t get a particular mail piece, you let them know that through a single click on a box in the email: “I didn’t receive this piece.”  We have found this service to be very helpful and reassuring in helping you to know that you are receiving the mail pieces that have been sent to you.  It is free, painless, and very useful — how often can that be said for a service of any kind?  D.R., Bainbridge Township  A: This relatively new service from the Postal Service definitely can provide some reassurance to consumers whether they’re getting all of their mail or not…more

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Postal services in Poland and Netherlands go electric

July 5, 2018

Not only Deutsche Post looks into electrifying their delivery operations. A new initiative by the Dutch PostNL now replaces diesel vehicles with electric cargo bikes in Utrecht. Also the mail service in Poland, Poczta Polska, wants to electrify by developing their own vehicle.  Utrecht is the latest city where Post NL deploys what they call their electric carrier bikes. The cargo pedelecs replace small diesel vehicles and deliver mail to business. They also carry postmen and women to empty more than 150 letterboxes in the city, as well as delivering parcels.  According to PostNL, they thus replace 20 car rides every day. This means 560 emission-free delivery kilometres a day. A special transfer location, like a mini logistics hub, has been created in the Utrecht city centre…more

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E-tailers exploring ways to improve reverse logistics costs: Study

July 5, 2018

E-tailers are increasingly looking for ways to improve their “reverse logistics” capabilities to offset the high costs associated with handling returned goods, a study by Zebra Technologies said today.  Reverse logistics refers to the process of return of a product to the manufacturer or the company.  “The rising consumer demand for free and fast product delivery correlates with a surge in product returns. Fulfilment and returns go hand in hand; they represent the two halves of the supply chain. While fulfilment means bringing products to market, returns flow the product in reverse back through the supply chain,” the report said.  It added that while handling product returns is not a new challenge, it has become an “infinitely bigger concern” in an omni-channel marketplace.  “It is also extraordinarily costly and is eating into already pressured profit margins,” it said, adding that shoppers return an estimated over USD 600 billion worth of goods each year…more

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As Trump pushes to privatize the troubled Postal Service, others push back

July 5, 2018

U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver recalls the days when, every morning at 10, his grandmother would walk to the post office in Waxahachie, Texas, to catch up with friends, family and other community members.  “The postal service is, for rural America, more than a mail delivery system,” Cleaver, a Kansas City Democrat, said in a phone interview. “It’s a link between people who would like to have interaction with other people in their community, and they do so at the post office.”  President Donald Trump is calling for privatization of the floundering U.S. Postal Service, aiming for its eventual sale as a completely independent corporation. Cleaver and other lawmakers say rural communities would be left in the lurch…more

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Sorry, Amazon, Your New Startups Won’t Help You Win Last-Mile Delivery

July 4, 2018

PostalVision 2017 speaker Laura Behrens Wu, Shippo, writes… In the race to win last-mile delivery, Amazon launches another experiment. Here’s what you should know. Last week, Amazon announced a call for entrepreneurs to start delivery businesses–Amazon’s latest attempt at mastering last-mile delivery. It’s become a desolate battlefield, due to the hefty expense of bringing packages to people’s doorsteps.  Mail carriers struggle to gain access to apartment complexes. They travel narrow roads to reach remote addresses. It takes major scale and infrastructure to be profitable. The USPS is the one entity required to visit every U.S. residence daily, a core competency they’ve developed over hundreds of years…more

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ICBA urges Treasury to prohibit postal banking

July 3, 2018

The Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) is asking the Treasury Department to prohibit any effort to expand services of the U.S. Postal Service to include banking. In April, Sen. Kristin Gillibrand (D-NY) proposed legislation to allow post offices to offer consumer banking services. “For millions of families who have no access or limited access to a traditional bank, the simple act of cashing a paycheck or taking out a small loan to fix a car or pay the gas bill can end up costing thousands of dollars in interest and fees that are nearly impossible to pay off,” Gillibrand said back in April, reported The Hill…more

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International Logistics: Five Ways to Simplify Cross-Border Shipping

July 2, 2018

PostalVision 2020 Speaker, A J Hernandez, CEO SkyPostal, writes on International Logistics.  International logistics can get tricky when you’re expanding into new markets or growing your business abroad.  Avoid getting your packages held up at customs or your parcels being abandoned by your customers by simplifying your cross-border planning with these five tips.  1. Find the Right Fulfillment Location – If you’re traveling to the U.K. from the United States for vacation, it makes a big difference whether you’re departing from New York or Los Angeles. The same is true for shipping your international parcels.  Third-party fulfillment allows you to position your inventory as close to your customer base as possible. Compared to self-fulfillment, where your company ships, houses, and packages the parcels onsite, third-party fulfillment takes most of that work off your hands and enables you to respond rapidly to changes in global demand for your products…more

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7% of apparel sales are now online

July 2, 2018

Online apparel sales accounted for 27.4% of overall U.S. apparel sales last year, up from 23.5% in 2016 and 20.7% in 2015, according to the most recent Internet Retailer Online Apparel Report published last week.  Apparel retailers dominated Internet Retailer’s 2018 Top 1000 list with 266 (more than any other category) making the list. That doesn’t include mass-merchant giants like Amazon (number one on that list) and Walmart (number three)…more

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Shopify acquires ecommerce return solution Return Magic

June 26, 2018

Shopify has acquired another app for its ever-expanding portfolio.  On Tuesday, the Ottawa-based ecommerce darling announced that it had acquired the Montreal-based developers behind Return Magic, an ecommerce return solution for Shopify that also happens to be the platform’s number one app, with nearly 2500 customers.  Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, but Shopify general manager of shipping Louis Kearns told ITBusiness.ca that four members of the Return Magic team, including co-founder and CEO-turned-Shopify product lead Guillaume Racine and co-founder and CTO-turned-senior engineering lead Raff Paquin, would be joining Shopify’s Montreal team next month, and “continue to expand on the technology they have been building since founding [Return Magic] in November 2016.”…more

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Retail Roundup: Return Rankings; Gap, Dollar Tree Brand Sales?

June 25, 2018

As retail changes and companies struggle to attract and retain customers, several themes have emerged, including improved customer service and convenience.  And much like Elaine Benes claiming that the breakup is the most important part of a relationship, returns are a major factor in both those areas. It comes down to trust: A consumer is more likely to buy from a company that they feel will support them even if the purchase doesn’t work out, and make it easy to get their money back. So, on the heels of news Amazon.com (AMZN) bans consumers who return items too frequently earlier this year, Barron’s spoke with Olga Andrienko, head of global marketing at search analytics firm SEMrush, who researches consumer queries’ about major U.S. retailers return policies…more

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Postal banking, warts and all, is part of the payday conversation

June 21, 2018

You have no doubt read that Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., has introduced legislation that would essentially turn our nation’s 36,000 post offices into quasi-banks, a move she thinks would squash payday lenders and provide more affordable financial services to consumers along the way. In her words: “Literally the only person who is going to be against this is somebody who wants to protect payday lender profits.” The reaction to just about anything Gillibrand says tends to be pretty predictable. Those with left leanings swoon at the Democrat’s every idea and those leaning right will write her off as a Lib-Kook. But setting aside any gut-level reaction about the senator or her claim that opposing her legislation is the moral equivalent of a Facebook “like” for payday vultures, is Gillibrand’s proposal a good idea? Well, it’s exactly half of a good idea…more

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HUB BY AMAZON NOW AVAILABLE FOR INSTALLATION ACROSS THE US

June 19, 2018

Amazon has announced that its “Hub by Amazon” delivery solution for apartments is now available for installation “across the United States”.  In a statement issued today (19 June), Amazon reported: “Over 500,000 residents—from New York City to San Francisco, among others—already have access to the Hub by Amazon with thousands more gaining access each month as new Hubs are installed in apartment communities across the country.” Essentially, the Hub is a parcel terminal that apartment residents can use to receive deliveries from any sender, not just Amazon….more

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CVS Adds Home Delivery With Help From Post Office

June 19, 2018

CVS Health Corp. has enlisted the U.S. Postal Service for a new home delivery service, as the drugstore giant strives to stave off Amazon.com Inc. and other rivals. CVS struck a deal with the Postal Service to pick up prescriptions at CVS stores and bring them to customers’ homes in one or two days.   Customers will be charged $4.99 per delivery, which could include over-the-counter products such as aspirin or face wash…more

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The Postal Service Is Not Subject to Trump’s Workforce Executive Orders

June 12, 2018

President Trump’s executive orders on the federal workforce will carve out about 600,000 federal employees: those at the U.S. Postal Service. The Office of Personnel Management confirmed the exemption to Government Executive after informing one of the major postal unions directly. The orders aim to streamline the disciplinary process for federal employees, boost oversight of official time and reduce its use, and revamp collective bargaining between unions and agencies. The executive orders concern chapters of Title Five of the U.S. Code that do not apply to the Postal Service, an OPM spokesperson said on Tuesday. That squares with an analysis conducted by outside attorneys for the National Association of Letter Carriers, said Fredric Rolando, the union’s president…more

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Postal Stakeholders Are Impressed With Trump’s Task Force So Far

June 8, 2018

President Trump’s task force to overhaul the U.S. Postal Service is up and running, and despite concerns that its members would simply follow the direction preset by the tweeter-in-chief, stakeholders in the postal community are impressed with seriousness and attention to detail with which the group has approached its undertaking. The task force, established by an executive order Trump signed in April, has begun holding meetings at the Treasury Department, according to an array of trade organizations, shipping companies and unions. Trump tapped Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Office of Personnel Management Director Jeff Pon and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney to head up the task force, but their staffers have so far led the charge. Overall, participants in the meetings have come away impressed with the officials’ knowledge base and commitment to learning more about what has caused the Postal Service to find itself in such a shaky financial position…more

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Bernie Sanders Is to Deliver a Commonsense Plan to Save the Postal Service

June 7, 2018

In a letter shared with The Nation ahead of its release, Sanders warned Mnuchin, who is chairing the President’s task force, that “it would be a disaster if the President or members of his Administration believe the ultimate solution is to privatize the Postal Service.” “If the goal of the Postal Service is to make as much money as possible,” Sanders told The Nation, “tens of millions of people, particularly low-income people and people in rural areas, will see a decline in or doing away with basic mail services.” Instead, Sanders urged Mnuchin to support sweeping reforms that would allow the agency to offer new services and escape restrictive funding obligations. Some of these proposals would require Congress to pass new laws, while others would require Postal Service management to undo years of internal cuts…more

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Italy Turns to Postal Police to Fight Fake News

June 7, 2018

Italy’s leaning on crime fighters of yesteryear in its battle against fake news: the postal police. As misinformation campaigns roil electoral processes, from the U.S. 2016 presidential race and the U.K.’s Brexit referendum to Italy’s March general elections, governments around the world are struggling to block the onslaught of fake news. France’s effort to address the issue with new legislation — its anti-fake news bill lands in parliament Thursday — is already raising questions about whether it’s the best answer to a complicated problem. Italy, for its part, is going down a different route, mixing the new with the old. The country is calling on its once-outdated Polizia Postale, or postal police, to stop the spread of unfounded reports on the web…more

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Target makes a big leap in the delivery wars against Amazon, Walmart

June 7, 2018

Target has reached an important milestone in the delivery wars versus Walmart, Amazon and others. The company is now more than halfway through its rollout of same-day delivery with Shipt and the launch of a curbside pickup service known as “Drive Up.” Its goal, which Target said it’s well on track to meet, is to have the services available at the majority of its stores before the holiday season. The discount retailer said Chicago will be the first city in the U.S. to have all four of its new delivery and pickup options — Shipt, Drive Up, Target Restock and the fulfillment of online orders from within stores — starting this week. Shipt, which Target acquired just a few months ago for $550 million, uses personal shoppers to stay in communication with a customer as they pick up items in the store. The personal shoppers text a recipient if an item is out of stock and alert him or her en route to delivery, for example. Target Restock is a delivery option that allows customers to order everyday essentials, like beauty and pet products, filling up a box up to roughly 45 pounds. (Amazon has a similar offering called Prime Pantry.)…more

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Retailers (including Amazon) Crack Down on Return Fraud

June 6, 2018

Ecommerce customers value a lenient and free return process. The most successful online and omnichannel merchants have been willing to accommodate those wishes. Until recently. A survey by the National Retail Federation estimated that retail return fraud costs all merchants as much as $15 billion in 2017. An example is “wardrobing” or “free renting,” wherein consumers purchase an item, use it, and then return it. Other cases involve returning stolen goods for cash. Retailers want to rein in returns, especially when they believe that participants are committing fraud. As a consequence, both ecommerce and brick-and-mortar retailers are tightening their return policies…more

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U.S. postal stamp helped fund key breast study

June 4, 2018

Countless breast cancer patients in the future will be spared millions of dollars of chemotherapy thanks in part to something that millions of Americans did that cost them just pennies: bought a postage stamp. Proceeds from the U.S. Postal Service’s breast cancer stamp put researchers over the top when they were trying to get enough money to do the landmark study published on Sunday that showed genetic testing can reveal which women with early-stage breast cancer need chemo and which do not…more

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You’ve got mail: Cuba, U.S. make permanent restored postal services

June 1, 2018

Cuba and the United States are making the re-establishment of postal services permanent after a trial run, the state-run Cuban News Agency reported on Friday, as cooperation in some areas inches forward despite a chill in relations under the Trump administration…more

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Belgium’s Bpost eyes cross-border deliveries boost with DHL partnership

May 30, 2018

Belgian postal operator Bpost said on Wednesday it was teaming up with DHL for e-commerce deliveries in the Benelux region, in a move to boost its position in cross-border deliveries of online purchases….more

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Amazon is taking its package-delivery tracking to the next level

May 25, 2018

We have all, on the day we’re expecting a package, gone to Amazon’s “track package” page and refreshed, only to be rewarded, every time, with “Delivery expected by 8pm.” But this week Amazon is rolling out a new feature that allows customers to track packages on a map when the package is within 10 stops of their home, according to CNET. But the feature comes with a caveat: it’s only available for packages shipped through Amazon’s logistics service, not USPS, FedEx, or UPS. If your package is shipped through Amazon, the carrier will be listed as AMZL_US. This comes after news that Amazon is looking to beef up its internal logistics network comprised of local-partner shipping services, and even launch its own carrier service. Amazon started to test the map tracking with a small group of users in November 2017, as a part of its ongoing effort to make its delivery process more transparent. The e-commerce giant has also been expanding its program where delivery drivers take a picture of your delivered package after its arrival….more

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Trump To Postmaster General: Raise Rates On Amazon

May 19, 2018

The Washington Post is reporting that President Trump personally pressured the Postmaster General to crack down on the rates the U.S. Postal Service is charging to deliver packages for Amazon…more

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Royal Mail predicts decline in letter volumes as data rules hit

May 17, 2018

Royal Mail has warned that new European data laws could reduce the number of letters being sent, as its British business failed to increase revenue last year. The company said that the impact of the new General Data Protection Regulation, which comes into effect on May 25, meant it expected its decline in addressed letters to be at the upper end of its estimates of 4pc to 6pc. The new laws make it harder for companies to send unsolicited mail to customers. In the year to March 25, Royal Mail’s revenues for marketing mail grew 1pc to £1.1bn…more

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Local marketplace OfferUp takes on eBay with launch of nationwide shipping

May 1, 2018

OfferUp, the mobile marketplace for buying and selling locally, is expanding its sights beyond your neighborhood. Today, the company is announcing an expansion of its service that will now allow sellers to ship their items nationwide to interested buyers, potentially netting them a larger audience than if trying to sell only within their local community. The feature to browse the items outside your area will appear in a separate “shipping” tab in the new version of the OfferUp app for iOS and Android, arriving today. When sellers list an item, they’ll have the option to toggle on a switch to “sell & ship” nationwide. They then pick the item’s weight from the options that appear (up to 20 lbs). Items must also be under $500, and are shipped via USPS. Buyers are kept up-to-date on the item’s status through the app, as well…more

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Trump targeting U.S. Postal Service

May 1, 2018

President Trump this month launched an attempt to overhaul the Postal Service through an executive order forming a task force chaired by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to examine the Postal Service’s operations and within 120 days release a report outlining reforms. Stating that the Postal Service had lost $65 billion since 2009, the order added, “The USPS is on an unsustainable financial path and must be restructured to prevent a taxpayer-funded bailout.” Separately, Trump tweeted, “Only fools, or worse, are saying that our money-losing Post Office makes money with Amazon. THEY LOSE A FORTUNE, and this will be changed.” A key fact that ignores: The Postal Service receives NO tax dollars for operating expenses, instead relying on the sale of postage, products and services to fund operations. USPS has tried to correct uninformed attacks, reminding the public that “the reason we continue to attract e-commerce customers and grow our package delivery business is not because of unfair competition with private carriers, but because customers increasingly see the value of our predictable service, enhanced visibility, and competitive pricing.” That doesn’t matter to critics like Trump…more

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