inthenews

Recent News in Our Ecosystem

 

Analysis: FedEx may have to compromise between growth and profitability

July 18, 2017

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

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USPS to raise rates on pair of international mail services

July 13, 2017

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

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Analyst: Amazon poised to enter drugstore market

July 5, 2017

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

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Study: Consumers’ shipping expectations higher than ever

June 27, 2017

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

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Another postal reform effort fades away

June 27, 2017

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

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Pay of new Australian postal service boss more than halved

June 26, 2017

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

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Amazon Lets Prime Members Try on Clothes for Free

June 22, 2017

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

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Study: Retailers experiencing e-fulfillment growing pains

June 20, 2017

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

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In China, a robot has started delivering packages to people

June 19, 2017

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

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3 ways AI is already impacting ecommerce

June 19, 2017

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

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

June 19, 2017

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

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

June 19, 2017

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

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UPS will add more surcharges for the US holiday season

June 19, 2017

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

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

June 15, 2017

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

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

June 15, 2017

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

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E-commerce logistics startup raises $17.5 million

June 14, 2017

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

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German postal service enlists Ford for electric vans drive

June 14, 2017

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

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COLLABORATION FOR A CIRCULAR ECONOMY: THREE NEW STUDIES RELEASED

June 12, 2017

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

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

June 5, 2017

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

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

June 4, 2017

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

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McDonald’s Rolls Out Delivery to New York

May 31, 2017

McDonald’s Corp. will expand delivery service to 1,000 more U.S. restaurants this week, including locations in the New York area, part of a gambit that the 77-year-old chain can find a major new source of growth. The burger chain is relying on Uber Technologies Inc.’s UberEats to handle the “McDelivery” program, which is now available from more than 2,000 locations. Other cities getting the service this week include Dallas; Denver; Fresno, California; Houston; San Antonio; Seattle; and Washington. UberEats typically charges a booking fee — say, $4.99 — that can vary by location. The Big Apple — where delivery services are widely used and highly competitive — provides the biggest testing ground yet for the push. The stakes are high: The Oak Brook, Illinois-based company sees restaurant delivery as a $100 billion market that could help reignite sales. In New York, UberEats is available from 7 a.m. until 1 a.m. seven days a week…more

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Amazon Hits The Gas On Grocery Concept

May 30, 2017

Amazon has opened up its AmazonFresh Pickup stores to customers, expanding a test concept from employees only to Seattle shoppers. It’s an indication that Amazon is getting closer to selling groceries online. The retailer has two grocery pickup locations in Seattle, but until last week had only allowed company employees to place orders as it was still a beta test, according to the Seattle Times. But now, Amazon Prime members can order groceries online and select a time to collect them at one of the dedicated sites. Amazon has several test stores in the market, including Amazon Go, the highly discussed self-serve convenience stores concept that lets shoppers pick up goods and leave without every using a checkout. Everything Amazon does is significant, but the grocery store experiment is among its most important. It’s an $800 billion market that cements shopper loyalty and has them coming back frequently. But online grocery has been slow to catch on with less than 10% of consumers using one of the available services…more

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China accounts for 40 percent of global ecommerce transactions

May 30, 2017

China remains the world’s largest ecommerce trading market, where transactions through unconventional e-platforms reached 26.1 trillion yuan last year, up 19.8 percent from the previous year, according to a Sina news report citing data from the Ministry of Commerce. The value of China’s ecommerce market accounted for 39.2 percent of the global market as of the end of 2016, making it the largest globally for consecutive years, according to the report. The ecommerce-related services market also reached 2.45 trillion yuan in 2016, up 23.7 percent from the previous year…more

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Amazon patents shipping label with built-in parachute for dropping packages from drones

May 30, 2017

It’s a bird, it’s a plane … oh wait, it’s my package of diapers.  Amazon customers could someday be repeating this phrase as the online retail giant this morning received a patent for a shipping label with a built in parachute to help packages make a soft landing when dropped out of the air by drone or other airborne craft. According to the newly issued patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the parachute label could look and act just like any other shipping label, but underneath is a system of cords, a parachute, a breakaway cover and possibly a harness to keep everything in place. The package could also be loaded with sensors to make sure the package hits its landing zone and a shock absorber in case the cargo is coming in a little too hot…more

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CHEP debuts Walmart Canada Zero Waste Story, store fulfillment through virtual reality at STORE 2017

May 30, 2017

When the world’s largest retailer experienced an unexpected reverse logistics issue, it turned to CHEP for answers. At the Retail Council of Canada STORE 2017 conference, CHEP released the details of a new case study highlighting its collaboration with Walmart Canada. CHEP applied its environmental sustainability expertise and reverse logistics capabilities to help Walmart efficiently move tonnes of wooden waste from retail locations to recycling facilities, helping the company move closer to zero waste….more

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UPS Teams With China’s S.F. Express for China, U.S. Shipping

May 24, 2017

UPS (UPS) announced that it is forming a joint venture with S.F. Express, the parent company of China’s largest package delivery service, as the company looks to take advantage of the increasingly lucrative trans-Pacific package delivery industry. The Chinese government estimates that the package delivery industry will grow to $116 billion in 2020 from $51 billion last year…more

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Trump budget calls for $47B in retirement benefits, operational cuts at USPS

May 24, 2017

President Donald Trump has weighed in on the ongoing postal reform debate with a fiscal 2018 budget proposal that would save the U.S. Postal Service $47 billion over 10 years through cuts in retirement benefits and mail delivery costs. The majority of the cost savings outlined in Trump’s postal reform plan, as written in his May 23 budget proposal, come from retirement benefit changes that would also affect the rest of the federal workforce, but would save the Postal Service $33 billion over 10 years. The Postal Service would also save an additional $1 billion by increasing postal workers’ contributions to their health and life insurance. The president’s USPS budget plan reflects some of the provisions in a bipartisan postal reform bill that passed the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in February, but goes further in reductions to delivery standards…more

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THE DRONE DELIVERY REPORT: Opportunities and challenges in automating logistics with drones

May 18, 2017

Among the many ways that drones can transform business operations, few have received as much attention as delivering packages to consumers’ homes. Drones could allow companies to bypass the many challenges involved with the “last mile” of delivery — the last leg of the journey when a package arrives at the customer’s doorstep. This last mile is the most expensive and inefficient part of parcel delivery, and a wide range of companies are exploring how drones can speed up the last mile and cut costs. E-commerce companies want to cut delivery times and costs to improve their customer satisfaction and loyalty, while legacy retailers seek the same advantages to grow their online sales. Meanwhile, logistics providers are experimenting with drone delivery to cut costs and ward off new competition from startups and technology companies, which have latched on to drone delivery as a potential path to disrupt (or partner with) legacy logistics firms. However, delivering packages by drones to consumers’ doorsteps is still years away from becoming a common occurrence. Important obstacles still need to be overcome relating to drone regulations, the development of autonomous flight and traffic control systems for drones, and consumer acceptance. In a new report, BI Intelligence examines the benefits drone delivery can provide as an e-commerce fulfillment method, and explains the different approaches companies are taking as they experiment with the nascent technology. In addition, we detail the key players working in the space and discuss the challenges drone delivery faces in reaching mainstream adoption…more

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Postal regulatory agency to conclude postage review this fall

May 18, 2017

The U.S. Postal Service’s independent regulatory body may raise the price of a postage stamp after it finishes reviewing the current rate-setting system later this fall.  The Postal Regulatory Commission’s ruling later this year could give USPS some of the pricing flexibility on postal products that Postmaster General Brennan has repeatedly called for as part of a larger campaign to reform the Postal Service’s financial future…more

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Amazon could ‘break open’ the pharmacy space, says health tech investor

May 18, 2017

“Amazon could break open the space,” said Steve Kraus, a health investor with Bessemer Venture Partners. For Kraus, Amazon’s potential move into the pharmacy space, which CNBC reported on Tuesday, is not surprising. In his view, every major technology company should have a play in health care, an estimated $3 trillion sector. For Amazon, the obvious move is to sell prescription drugs online…more

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Wal-Mart earnings top Street estimates as retailer’s digital sales jump 63%

May 18, 2017

Wal-Mart’s U.S. business is thriving in a challenging environment, as aggressive pricing helped bring more shoppers into stores, while efforts to expand its digital business are paying off in robust growth. The retailer’s U.S. comparable sales — an important metric for retail stocks — grew for the 11th consecutive quarter, climbing 1.4 percent compared with a FactSet estimate for 1.3 percent growth. Notably, Wal-Mart was also able to increase traffic to its U.S. stores again, at a time when others are seeing fewer shoppers. The retailer said its comparable sales traffic grew 3 percent, on a two-year stacked basis. Wal-Mart’s e-commerce sales rose a whopping 63 percent, compared with 29 percent growth last quarter. Despite making a number of acquisitions, the majority of these sales were organic through Walmart.com, the company said…more

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Royal Mail posts strong rise in profits as parcels improve

May 18, 2017

Parcel deliveries rose 3% thanks to shoppers’ insatiable appetite for online shopping, although the number of letters posted fell by 6%.  Royal Mail put the rise in parcels down to upgraded computer systems, which allow the packages to be sorted faster. Pre-tax profits rose to £335m in the year to 26 March from £267m, while revenues grew 1% to £9.8bn. The market reacted positively, sending shares up nearly 4% to 446.8p to highs not seen since January. Chief executive Moya Greene said: “We have made good progress against all of our strategic priorities. This has been a more challenging period for UK businesses and we have come through it well…more

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Amazon to open 60,000 square foot hub in the UK to research A.I., drone deliveries

May 4, 2017

Amazon said on Thursday it would open a 60,000 square foot development center later this year in the U.K. focused on artificial intelligence (A.I.) and drone delivery research. The site in Cambridge, which is just north of the capital London, will have a capacity for 400 people but the U.S. e-commerce giant did not say how many people it was hiring. Amazon’s announcement comes after it pledged in February to hire 5,000 full-time staff in the U.K. this year, which would bring its headcount in the country to 24,000 from the previous 19,000 figure. The company announced separately on Thursday that it has invested £6.4 billion ($8.26 billion) across the U.K. since 2010. “By the end of this year, we will have more than 1,500 innovation related roles here in Britain, working on everything from machine learning and drone technology to streaming video technology and Amazon Web Services,” Doug Gurr, U.K. country manager for Amazon, said in a press release on Thursday. Amazon said the development center is set to open in fall…more

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How Amazon Halved Its Shipping Costs In A Decade

May 1, 2017

Whenever Amazon considers expanding its network of distribution centers into a new state, the company faces a trade-off: exposure to more local sales taxes, on the one hand, and lower shipping costs on the other. Over the past ten years, the company bet that the convenience and cheapness of getting products closer to customers would win out. Now, a new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research shows the company’s massive investments in building out new centers has paid off, for both the company and its customers. Since 2006, Amazon has reduced its total shipping cost by over 50% and increased its profit margins by between 5% and 14%, according to a working paper released Monday, authored by economists Jean-François Houde, Peter Newberry, and Katja Seim. Over the same period, prices at the online retailer have fallen by almost 40%, suggesting most of those savings in shipping costs are passed on to customers, they found separately…more

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Ditching passwords and increasing ecommerce conversion rates by 54%

May 1, 2017

According to the latest data by the U.S. Department of Commerce, ecommerce sales jumped 15.1% last year, while total retail sales increased by only 2.9%. Admittedly, ecommerce as a percentage of total retail sales is only 8.3%. The implication is that most people still shop in physical stores, but the ease and simplicity of ecommerce continues to fuel its growth at a much faster clip.  This week, a new entrant appeared on Gartner’s ecommerce Magic Quadrant that you’ve probably never heard of: VTEX, a provider of a cloud-based ecommerce platform. In 2016, VTEX systems processed $1.8 billion worth of gross merchandise volume (GMV), and the company claims that its technology is 68% faster to implement, delivers a 30% boost in organic traffic and increases conversion rates by as much as 54%. Any double-digit increase in ecommerce conversion rates is always interesting, but how they accomplish the 54% increase may actually be the beginning of a new trend: ditching the checkout password altogether…more

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Amazon Apparel Zips Past Target, Dept. Stores

May 1, 2017

Our analysis shows Amazon.com is the second-largest U.S. apparel retailer and taking share from department stores and Target.  Our new AlphaWise data speak to Amazon’s (ticker: AMZN) continued apparel traction, driven by Prime, millennials, and higher-income shoppers. Amazon is doing well in casual/athletic apparel, less so in intimates.  Amazon is quickly gaining traction in apparel: 46% of surveyed consumers purchased clothes on Amazon over the last 12 months, the second highest in the survey, trailing only Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) at 60%. Purchase frequency seems to be picking up modestly too, with 36% of respondents saying they have purchased clothing on Amazon a “few times” versus 31% last year. Substitution is happening too, as 47% of likely Amazon apparel shoppers expect to buy more clothes on Amazon and fewer clothes at other retailers over the next 12 months…more

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UPS tries a new twist on surge pricing, putting more burden on retailers

May 1, 2017

United Parcel Service Inc. wants to get paid for packages it never delivers.  The company is starting to ask major retailers to help pay for extra workers and surplus space on trucks when a retailer fails to ship as many packages as planned during peak periods, UPS executives say. The new charges could also apply if a retailer’s forecast veers off course in other ways, like if the sizes of boxes shipped are significantly mismatched from what was expected…more

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Aside From Amazon and Wal-Mart, Who Else Is Winning E-Commerce?

April 27, 2017

When you think of website retail, the first name that probably comes to mind is Amazon.com, Inc. — and with good reason. According to Deloitte’s 2017 Global Powers of Retailing Report, the e-commerce giant is the largest e-retailer in the world. Another company that likely comes to mind is discount leader Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT), which takes the spot as top retailer and sits 4th in e-commerce as it battles to expand its online sales in a market dominated by Amazon. While these two retail juggernauts catch most of the headlines, there are others quietly working to increase their online sales. E-commerce represented an estimated $322 billion in 2016, and that figure is expected to climb to $485 billion over the next five years, according to Statista.com…more

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EU orders Belgium to scrap restrictive postal licence terms

April 27, 2017

The European Commission ordered Belgium on Thursday to end restrictive conditions for postal licences and open up its postal market, dominated by state-owned BPost (BPOST.BR), or face court action. The conditions include that postal operators should deliver mail twice a week and companies should extend to cover the whole of the country within five years at a uniform tariff. These conditions hinder the entry of rival postal companies and are in breach of the 28-country European Union rules, the EU executive said in a statement. Belgium has two months to comply with the order or could then be taken to court…more

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IBM patents ability to transfer packages between drones

April 26, 2017

Big Blue thinks one of the sticking points for companies interested in drone delivery is the limited distance over which packages can be sent. Its solution? Develop technology that makes it possible to hand off packages from one drone to another.  Today, IBM announced a patent for technology that achieves just that. The idea, of course, is that with a series of drones ready to go when needed, packages could make their way through the skies, from a distribution center to their destination, traveling much further than is possible with a single drone. As for when this will manifest, the company isn’t yet saying…more

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Amazon might use driverless vehicles to deliver packages in the future

April 25, 2017

Amazon is constantly thinking of new ways it can cut costs and revolutionize the shipping and delivery industry. According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, Amazon formed a team about a year ago of a dozen employees to focus on driverless-vehicle technology and develop the company’s plans to use self-driving cars to better its business. Amazon doesn’t plan on building its own self-driving cars for now. Instead, this newly formed team is tasked with figuring out how the company can use autonomous vehicle technology to deliver packages more quickly. Not only could self-driving cars be used to deliver packages to customers during the final leg of the shipping process, but Amazon could use autonomous cars, trucks, forklifts, and drones to move goods in and around warehouses and elsewhere…more

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Boston Dynamics has been using its robot ‘dog’ to deliver packages in Boston

April 25, 2017

Though Boston Dynamics has been building impressive — albeit often terrifying — legged robots for decades, the company hasn’t had much traction finding commercial applications for its agile machinery. Its robots were largely funded by military contracts before Google bought Boston Dynamics in 2013. But at the TED 2017 conference today, Boston Dynamics founder and CEO Marc Raibert admitted his company has been testing how it can put its robots to work in more marketable ways. Raibert showed a video of Spot, one of Boston Dynamics’ four-legged dog-like robots, delivering a package strapped to its back to someone’s front door…more

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Walmart and Target could beat Amazon on drone delivery

April 18, 2017

Among big retailers, Amazon has pushed the potential of drone delivery the hardest. But, according to BI Intelligence’s exclusive analysis of data from The Weather Company, the e-commerce giant isn’t the best positioned to take advantage of drones’ promise. Instead, its brick-and-mortar rivals, Walmart and Target, may be poised to reap the biggest gains…more

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Amazon won a patent for an on-demand clothing manufacturing warehouse

April 18, 2017

Amazon, meet Fast Fashion?  Amazon was awarded a patent on Tuesday for an on-demand manufacturing system designed to quickly produce clothing — and other products — only after a customer order is placed. The computerized system would include textile printers, cutters and an assembly line, as well as cameras designed to snap images of garments that would provide feedback on alterations needed in subsequent items. In order to increase efficiency, the goods would be manufactured in batches based on factors such as the customer shipping address, the patent says…more

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The Next Shoe to Drop at Amazon

April 17, 2017

In his annual shareholder letter Wednesday, Amazon.com Inc. CEO Jeff Bezos urged his company to “experiment patiently, accept failures, plant seeds, protect saplings, and double down when you see customer delight.”For Amazon investors and competitors struggling to read the often-secretive company, write this line down.It’s the framework for interpreting what businesses are working at Amazon — and what’s next on the chopping block. And as Amazon’s name is floated as an acquirer of everything from Whole Foods Market Inc. to Macy’s Inc., it serves as a warning for acquisition targets, past and future…more

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Big Returns In Hassle-Free Returns

April 10, 2017

Processing of returns and excess inventory, known in the retail trade as reverse logistics, is attracting interest from venture capital and strategic investors looking for new software and services. With growth in mobile and online channels, consumers increasingly “see their living room as a dressing room” and expect hassle-free returns as part of online shopping, says Daphne Carmeli, CEO of Menlo Park, California-based Deliv. The company, a provider of same day return pick-up services, was among the presenters at Shoptalk 2017 in Las Vegas last month. The expectation of free or easy returns raises retailers’ costs for retrieval, re-sale and disposal of returned items, but at the same time increases opportunities for reverse logistics companies. A recent survey by BizRate found that 89% of online shoppers cited the return policy as a reason they would or would not buy from a company…more

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New Zealand Post signs agreement with China logistics giant

March 27, 2017

New Zealand Post has signed an agreement with the Henan Bonded Logistics Centre (HNBLC) and Trademonster that will simplify access for New Zealand companies to one of world’s largest consumer markets. HNBLC processes more than 90 million domestic parcels in China, and more than half of all cross border ecommerce trade. Trademonster has a strategic alliance with NZ Post and has strong relationships with the major ecommerce platforms in China, which is key for New Zealand SME businesses looking to enter China…more

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Amazon to Collect Sales Tax in Most States Starting April 1st

March 25, 2017

CNBC reports that after more than two decades of bad blood and legal wrangling between states and the online giant, Amazon will collect sales tax in all states that have such a levy. Collection in Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, and New Mexico, the final four states where shoppers don’t pay required tax through the site, will begin on April 1st. Amazon will still not charge sales tax in Alaska, Delaware, Oregon, Montana, or New Hampshire, which don’t have state sales taxes….more

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Protect American consumers by retaining a balanced approach to Postal rates

March 22, 2017

A healthy U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is in everyone’s interests, especially those of us who depend on it for our organizations and businesses. But enabling inefficient operations with unwarranted rate increases causes more harm than good…more

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Retailer Strategies for Offsetting Higher Carrier Costs

March 14, 2017

The U.S. Postal Service, FedEx and UPS all increased rates over the past few months, which means higher costs for retailers and fashion apparel brands — especially as companies face ongoing growth of online shopping.  The increases come as shipping volumes are expected to grow. In a recent study by Pitney Bowes, global online shipping volume is expected to grow 20 percent by 2018. Here, Jeff Crouse, vice president at Pitney Bowes, discusses these trends as well as how companies can mitigate higher costs…more

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Amazon lowers minimum for free shipping to $35

February 19, 2017

Retail giant Amazon apparently doesn’t want Walmart to offer a better deal on shipping.  Without promotion, Amazon has lowered the minimum required for free two-day US shipping from $49 to $35, something The Verge noticed this weekend and reported on Sunday. That threshold applies to shoppers who are not Prime members, and the minimum for free shipping on books remains $25.  An Amazon spokeswoman confirmed it “recently” lowered the minimum price for free shipping, but decline to specify when the change took place or why it made the move….more

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Will Amazon Revolutionize Shipping?

February 14, 2017

For consumers, Amazon’s made shipping easy: Just choose the desired delivery date for your goodies and click. For the manufacturers who have to get those products to you, however, shipping remains a troublesome, inefficient, stubbornly analog business. Your “one-click” often translates into multiple phone calls, emails, faxes and reams of paperwork — all coordinated by a knowledgeable and well-connected professional….more

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Same-day shipping is key to fighting Amazon

February 13, 2017

A new study from L2 found that a quarter of shoppers would abandon a cart online if same-day shipping wasn’t available, indicating that customers increasingly expect short delivery times.  That’s a problem for most retailers, since only one-fifth of sellers offer same-day delivery, and those that do tend to charge exorbitantly high prices for it. As shipping windows continue to narrow — 96% of customers consider “fast” to mean same-day shipping — there’s clear demand for cheap, same-day delivery that retailers could capitalize on…more

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Amazon’s delivery drones could drop packages with parachutes

February 13, 2017

Amazon’s much-anticipated (and long time coming) drone deliveries might technically finally be happening, but a new patent spotted by CNN suggests your next book or box-set might actually arrive via parachute. There are many practical, legal and technical challenges that drone deliveries present — and getting the parcel on the ground is just one of them…more

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New FedEx Fulfillment aims to meet logistics needs of small and medium retail shippers

February 7, 2017

Transportation and logistics bellwether FedEx said this week that its FedEx Supply Chain subsidiary (formerly GENCO) has rolled out a new offering, entitled FedEx Fulfillment.  Company officials described FedEx Fulfillment as an e-commerce service that helps small and medium-sized shippers fulfill orders from multiple channels like Websites and online marketplaces, as well as manage inventory for retail stores. And they added that the new FedEx Fulfillment enables these shippers to realize profitable and scalable growth through various mediums, including warehousing, fulfillment, packaging, transportation, and reverse logistics. A core component of FedEx Fulfillment is its SaaS-based platform, as well as FedEx’ transportation networks…more

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Amazon’s earnings highlight expanding logistics network

February 6, 2017

Amazon reported revenue of $43.7 billion in Q4 2016, up from $35.7 billion in Q4 2015, but below Wall Street expectations of $44.6 billion.  Although lighter than anticipated, the company’s fourth-quarter performance helped drive strong growth for the year — revenue topped $136 billion in 2016, up from $107 billion in 2015.  Meanwhile, Amazon’s global retail sales were $32.1 billion in Q4, up from $25.8 billion in the comparable 2015 period. The company delivered a far greater number of orders itself, and plans to further invest in its expanding logistics network…more

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Venture Capitalists and Agile Start-Ups Pumping Billions into Disrupting Traditional Postal Delivery Services, Accenture Report Finds

January 31, 2017

Billions of dollars in venture-capital funding have poured into the post and parcel industry in the last two years, driven by the continued popularity of e-commerce and increased competitiveness in hyper-local, start-up delivery models, according to a new report from Accenture (ACN). The report, The New Delivery Reality: Achieving High Performance in the Post and Parcel Industry, shows that venture- capital funding of supply chain and logistics start-ups, integral to delivery services, has increased more than 10-fold in the last three years, from US$266 million in 2013 to US$2.78 billion in 2016.  The number of deals and the size of funding for those deals also increased, according to the report. In 2013, there were 52 deals supporting supply chain and logistics, totaling about US$266 million, or roughly US$5.1 million per deal. Two years later, the average deal cost was valued at US$6.4 million. But, by the first quarter of 2016, US$1.75 billion was spent on just 36 deals, an average of US$49.7 million per deal, the study shows…more

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Wal-Mart scraps Amazon Prime competitor in favor of new free shipping tactic

January 31, 2017

Wal-Mart is scrapping its ShippingPass program, a fee-based, two-day shipping service it was testing to compete with Amazon’s Prime. Instead, the world’s largest retailer will offer free two-day shipping on more than 2 million items when shoppers spend at least $35. That’s down from its previous spending threshold of $50, and its prior delivery window of three to five days. The shift is one of the first major changes Marc Lore has made at Wal-Mart since the retailer purchased his start-up, Jet.com, last year…more

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The bold proposal to transform the USPS into tool for fighting food insecurity

January 12, 2017

Graduate students from the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts and the Brown School at the Washington University in St. Louis have been named the winners of the UrbanSOS: Fair Share Competition. The competition, led by AECOM and the Van Alen Institute, asked entrants to design for the sharing economy while addressing critical urban issues.  The winning entry, First Class Meal, proposes to revitalize an underutilized United States Postal Service (USPS) post office, turning it into a resource for storing and redistributing surplus food. The proposal calls for a pairing of mobile technology with the distribution network of the USPS…more

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Amazon to Create 100,000 New Jobs in U.S. in Next 18 Months

January 12, 2017

Amazon.com Inc. said it plans to hire more than 100,000 people in the U.S. in the next 18 months, becoming the latest company to announce hiring plans in the wake of Donald Trump’s election.  The staffing up isn’t particularly surprising for a company pushing into multiple categories from groceries to hardware, online video, fashion, cloud services and multiple tiers of delivery. But the hiring could also appease Trump, who has prioritized job creation and tangled with Amazon Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos during the election campaign…more

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You’ll Soon Be Able to Pick Up FedEx Packages From Walgreens

January 11, 2017

The arms race between delivery services looking to expand their network of service points just got more intense. FedEx said on Wednesday it had signed a multi-year deal with drugstore operator Walgreens Boots Alliance (WHA) that will add about 8,000 Walgreens stores as points of service delivery. After what FedEx called a “small-scale” this spring, drop-off and pick up of pre-packaged and pre-labeledwill be available at almost all Walgreens stores by the fall of 2018…more

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Amazon’s aggressive warehouse and shipping strategy is paying off

January 10, 2017

Convenience is becoming more important to shoppers at a time when retail is increasingly shifting to e-commerce. And one reason Amazon.com Inc. is such a formidable competitor in the e-commerce space is its ability to fulfill even last-minute shipping needs with the efficiency shoppers increasingly crave. Market Track in its 2016 holiday shopping review highlighted Amazon’s AMZN, -0.10% free same-day or one-day delivery offer on eligible orders over $35…more

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It’s Official: Online Holiday Sales Break Record — Tech Roundup

January 6, 2017

Maersk, the world’s largest container shipping line, has teamed up with Alibaba to allow customers to reserve space on its vessels through the Chinese company, illustrating growing cooperation between e-commerce and logistics firms. Maersk, a unit of Denmark’s A.P. Moller-Maersk, began offering the service to Chinese shippers on Alibaba’s OneTouch booking website on Dec. 22, a spokeswoman for the shipping line said on Wednesday. Shippers traditionally go through freight forwarders to book space for goods on container vessels, but lines such as Maersk are allowing cargo owners to book directly via the internet. For their part, e-commerce companies are increasingly venturing into logistics activities to try to gain better control over their supply chain networks…more

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Alibaba Is Teaming Up with This Shipping Giant

January 5, 2017

Maersk, the world’s largest container shipping line, has teamed up with Alibaba to allow customers to reserve space on its vessels through the Chinese company, illustrating growing cooperation between e-commerce and logistics firms. Maersk, a unit of Denmark’s A.P. Moller-Maersk, began offering the service to Chinese shippers on Alibaba’s OneTouch booking website on Dec. 22, a spokeswoman for the shipping line said on Wednesday. Shippers traditionally go through freight forwarders to book space for goods on container vessels, but lines such as Maersk are allowing cargo owners to book directly via the internet. For their part, e-commerce companies are increasingly venturing into logistics activities to try to gain better control over their supply chain networks…more

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Amazon is granted a patent for using a subterranean network to deliver packages

January 4, 2017

Maybe it shouldn’t be that surprising that Amazon has patented a system for delivering goods via a dedicated network of underground tunnels. After all, the Seattle-based company is looking into virtually every other mode of transportation. But the idea seem ambitious, even for America’s largest online retailer.  Amazon has experimented with delivery services that make use of autonomous drones, bicycle couriers and branded fleets of airplanes and trucks. There’s talk of self-driving trucks, flying warehouses and a system that would let drones hitchhike on trucks and buses. Even the patent for Amazon’s Treasure Truck leaves the door open for Treasure Boats as well. Amazon’s patent application for a dedicated network delivery system, above or below ground, was filed almost three years ago. The patent was finally issued and published a little more than a month ago…more

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Amazon’s Holiday Shipping Rush Brings Growing Pains

December 23, 2016

This holiday season, Amazon is dealing with an unprecedented number of orders. Although sales figures haven’t been released yet, the e-commerce giant announced in November that it expects record-setting sales for third-party sellers on Amazon. In addition, ShipMatrix, a shipping consultancy, estimates Amazon will send out more than 7 million packages daily during the pre-Christmas season in the U.S. alone, with a total of approximately 220 million packages—a 27% increase over last year.  That high shipping volume is taking place at the same time that Amazon is building an ambitious package delivery network of its own to wean itself off carriers like UPS, FedEx, and the U.S. Postal Service, and perhaps even compete with them. That combination is putting strains on the e-commerce giant…more

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Drone News & Update: French Postal Service Delivers Mail Via Drone Service

December 23, 2016

The French postal service will soon start using a drone and hopes that the trials of their new drone delivery program will eventually lead to a full-scale postal service that delivers mail and parcels to far-flung remote areas in the country.  According to Recode.net, the French postal service Le Groupe La Poste will soon conduct trials of a new drone mail delivery program after it was granted approval from the French aviation regulatory authority. The DPDgroup, a subsidiary of the French national postal service, has been working on a drone delivery project since 2014. The French agency has also teamed up with a French drone specialist, Atechsys…more

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Chinese Blockchain Application Sub-Committee to explore blockchain in logistics and supply chain

December 22, 2016

Chinese Blockchain startup, logistics companies, and financial institutions have formed Blockchain Application Sub-Committee that was previously initiated by the China Federation of Logistics & Purchasing last week at the 2016 Fintech Global Summit.  The Sub-Committee aims to focus on the promotion of blockchain technology in logistics by introducing blockchain technology and business training, R&D standards of blockchain for logistics, blockchain-based company credit mechanism and finally the total upgrading and re-direction of the logistics supply-chain industry, the release stated…more

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USPS made an ornament that displays package tracking updates

December 21, 2016

Shipping presents to loved ones during the busy holiday months can be a stressful endeavor, but the US Postal Service is testing something new this year that puts a seasonal spin on the task. Officially called “The Most Wonderful Ornament,” the Christmas decoration changes color as the the status of your package is updated. When your package is out for delivery, the ornament lights up blue. Red means the box has been dropped off and green will glow when the recipient has opened it…more

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Here’s Why Amazon Might Be Focusing On A Logistics Business

December 19, 2016

Reports suggest that Amazon is building an app that matches truck drivers with shippers, which is scheduled to be launched in the summer of 2017. This app is designed to make it easier for truck drivers to find shippers and eliminates the need of third party brokers who usually charge a 15% commission for these services. The trucking market is estimated at $800 billion and this appears to be part of Amazon’s plan to become a full-fledged logistics company. By controlling the entire logistics chain Amazon can significantly reduce delivery costs in its e-commerce segment and work towards faster and more efficient deliveries. Based on its logistics experience, this venture can become another revenue stream for the company and generate a return on its heavy investments in the logistics space…more

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From Click to Customer Delivery in 13 minutes, Amazon’s Prime Air Drone Trial Begins

December 14, 2016

Amazon is pushing forward with its plans for a drone delivery fleet. Today it announced that it’s begun deliveries to two customers in the UK, and will be expanding that to dozens, possibly hundreds, in the coming months. The service is restricted to small items for now, focusing on delivering packages up to five pounds in 30 minutes or less. On December 7th, 2016, Prime Air delivered its first order – an Amazon Fire TV and bag of popcorn – using a highly automated drone. According to a press release, it took 13 minutes from customer click to package delivery at a home near Cambridge, UK…more

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Logistics technology: Where is it headed?

December 12, 2016

For years, the mantra in logistics was “information about the shipment is more important than the shipment itself.” That may be a stretch: You don’t go to the store for a carton of data. That being said, information technology (IT) has never been more pervasive in this business than it is today. It is no longer about automating manual processes. It is about leveraging data to make everyone’s business better. That is a quantum leap…more

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First UPS U.S. Delivery eBike Debuts in Portland, Ore

December 9, 2016

UPS has announced its first eBike in the U.S. This new electrically-assisted tricycle began delivering packages in Portland, Ore., on November 21. UPS anticipates this eBike prototype could become a component of its delivery capabilities in some other cities across the country. The deployment of the eBike is part of UPS’s ongoing commitment to reduce carbon emissions as city populations and e-commerce grow, and traffic, noise and air quality challenges continue to rise…more

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FedEx CEO: Tearing up NAFTA would be ‘catastrophic’

December 9, 2016

In some of the sharpest remarks since Trump’s victory, FedEx CEO Fred Smith warned about the dangers of clamping down on free trade, especially tearing up NAFTA, the free trade agreement between the United States, Mexico and Canada. Getting out of NAFTA “would be catastrophic for the U.S. economy,” Smith said at a meeting on national competitiveness in Washington on Friday.
“Trade has made America great,” Smith said. Going the other way “would be a severe mistake with enormous consequences for America and the world.”  He pointed out that 25% of U.S. manufacturing jobs depend on shipments abroad. Overall, trade supports 40 million jobs in America..more

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Amazon Go store won’t replace humans — but it could improve ‘dreadful’ self-checkout, investor says

December 5, 2016

While Amazon’s new shopping experiment is already prompting doomsday headlines for retail workers, human employees are still key to the retail experience, one technology investor told CNBC..more

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Robots offer huge potential in delivery logistics

November 30, 2016

The Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics (IML) has – on behalf of ZF Friedrichshafen AG – examined the expectations of end customers, legal and spatial frameworks, as well as technical trends and their effects in a 360-degree study. Across four chapters, the authors investigate factors such as electromobility, automation and digital networking, and how these may be involved in reshaping last-mile logistics to be cleaner, safer and more punctual. The ZF-Future Study 2016 is the third study on the subject of long-distance transport and was again conceived in cooperation with EuroTransportMedia Verlags- und Veranstaltungs-GmbH..more

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Finland’s Postal Service Goes Above And Beyond Delivering Mail

November 28, 2016

To supplement the declining mail business, the state-owned service is offering buddy walks for the elderly. For about $73, customers can order a buddy who will help them walk in slippery conditions…more

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FedEx, UPS expect record season

November 28, 2016

FedEx Corp. and United Parcel Service Inc. expect to set another record for packages handled this holiday season, fueled by an estimated 17 percent jump in online spending. Mondays will bear more of the crunch than ever before. The start of online holiday shopping will trigger a surge making each Monday from today through Dec. 19 among the busiest days in FedEx’s history, said Patrick Fitzgerald, the company’s senior vice president of integrated marketing and communications. The deluge is heightened as more retailers use store inventory to fulfill online weekend orders — and need to replenish their merchandise Monday while also shipping out parcels to customers…more

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South Africa: SA Looks to Modernise Postal Network

November 28, 2016

The Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services has met with the Universal Postal Union (UPU) to discuss ways to modernise the postal network to benefit from e-commerce. The meeting between Department Director-General Robert Nkuna and UPU Director-General Ambassador Bishar Hussein was aimed at ensuring that the country emerges with a clear roadmap of how it will work with the UPU to extract the most value from the increasing global trade that is driven by e-commerce activity. “The postal services sector is very important in the successful implementation of the National Integrated ICT Policy White Paper. It is not a stand-alone policy. It is part of the comprehensive policy overhaul to modernise the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector for the inclusion of all citizens. We are aligned to what the UPU is doing and have referred to it in finalising the White Paper,” said Nkuna of the meeting held in Pretoria…more

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New third-party logistics firms are reaping benefits of booming e-commerce sector

November 21, 2016

With the tech-savvy Gen-Next and the upwardly mobile shopping online to buy even their daily needs in cities and towns across India, third-party logistics firms are riding high on the e-commerce boom. Though leading e-tail behemoths like Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal have in-house logistics networks and warehouses for quick turn-around of merchandise and their speedy delivery, hundreds of buyers and sellers across verticals depend on third-party logistics companies like GoBolt, Rivigo, BlackBuck and TruckSuvidha for the supply chain in the B2B and B2C segments…more

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Amazon rolls out ‘X-ray vision’ so you can check what’s in your packages

November 20, 2016

Amazon is giving its app a new feature to help holiday shoppers keep track of what’s in their packages.  The company updated its iPhone app with a new feature that uses the phone’s camera to help detect what’s inside your packages without opening them.  Dubbed, “Package X-Ray,” the feature uses your iPhone’s camera to scan the barcode on the package. Once scanned, the app will show which of your orders are inside…more

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Why Amazon Is Cutting Wrapping Paper This Holiday Season

November 14, 2016

When Amazon ships millions of gifts to customer doorsteps this holiday season, one thing will be noticeably missing from the majority of the brown cardboard boxes emblazoned with its logo: wrapping paper. “Our guiding North Star is the minimization of packaging,” says Kara Hurst, Amazon’s director of worldwide sustainability and social responsibility. “Wrapping paper has no value.”…more

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Wal-Mart E-commerce Executives Depart in Wake of Jet.com Purchase

November 1, 2016

A management shake-up is hitting Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s e-commerce operations as Jet.com founder Marc Lore takes the helm, a sign the online entrepreneur is moving swiftly to put his stamp on the giant retailer. Several e-commerce executives are leaving the company in the wake of the $3.3 billion purchase of Mr. Lore’s startup Jet.com Inc., which closed in September. The departures include Fernando Madeira, head of Walmart.com, Dianne Mills, senior vice president of global e-commerce human resources and Brent Beabout, senior vice president of e-commerce supply chain, a spokesman said…more

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SingPost opens $130M e-commerce logistics facility

November 1, 2016

Singapore Post (SingPost) has launched a new three-storey facility that features a fully-automated parcel sorting system that can process up to 100,000 parcels a day.  The local postal service operator said Tuesday the S$182 million (US$130.85 million) site was its “largest e-commerce logistics investment” to date, encompassing two warehousing floors and 150 simultaneous loading bays as well as an office block. Its ground-floor automated sorting system also had shipping and returns management capabilities, it said…more

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Amazon’s Shipping Costs Likely to Surge With Holiday Orders

October 28, 2016

Amazon.com Inc.’s shipping costs are likely to spiral higher in the fourth quarter because of the combination of more expensive fast shipping and greater holiday-related volumes. The online-retail firm has been rolling out free deliveries in as fast as an hour to its Prime members, most of whom pay a $99 annual fee. But Amazon said on Thursday that the faster deliveries are costing it a lot of money—and as online orders surge during the holidays, its shipping costs could top the $3.9 billion it spent in the third quarter…more

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A Print Magazine Cover With Embedded, Functioning Videos

October 27, 2016

There are 5,000 copies of this special limited-edition Empire magazine cover. The shipment went on sale today in the U.K. at supermarket chain Saintsburys and is surely close-to, if not already, gone.In the spirit of the Harry Potter series and prequel Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the cover features two daily newspaper “moving-image photos” just like in the films–a behind-the-scenes video and the Fantastic Beasts trailer…more

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Why Old-Fashioned Direct Mail Is Still Useful for Advertisers

October 27, 2016

Demand creation through advertising — acquisition advertising — remains among the most important ways that a business can grow sales. Internet advertising has played a major role in this approach, which looks to generate interest among consumers who are not already customers. But old-fashioned direct mail can also play a big part. That’s because most consumers open most of their direct mail. They consider this type of communication less intrusive than email, which often arrives in floods. Direct mail is the second most popular form of acquisition advertising behind television…more

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“Underbanked” Report Shows Need For Postal Banking

October 27, 2016

“Millions of Americans can’t get bank accounts, so they can’t even cash a check. Many millions more might have an account but can’t get even a small loan. The numbers (below) are just outrageous.  These millions are forced to turn to predators like the payday loan and check cashing industry. Even those who can get full-service accounts are scammed by the likes of Wells Fargo. Meanwhile We the people are prevented by our captured-by-Wall-Street Congress from setting up the obvious solution that would solve so many problems: Postal Banking..”more

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How Technology Is Driving Logistics This Holiday Season

October 27, 2016

Holiday shopping season is upon us. Gone are the days when logistics companies could get by simply focusing on operations. The ability to provide on-time deliveries now meets only a minimum standard of success, despite extreme weather and increased volumes going through the same infrastructure. Today’s empowered shoppers are demanding more (e.g., lower costs, increased control and more options), and logistics companies that don’t prioritize technology in order to meet that demand will likely be left behind. PwC recently released its 2016 Holiday Outlook and its findings paint a clear picture of where the industry needs to be. It is estimated that shoppers will spend 10 percent more this year than they did last year. Sixty-two percent of retailers also expect an increase in overall sales. This is great news for logistics companies. So, what is their challenge? Adapting to the myriad ways people want to shop and receive their goods, and doing so in an economically viable way…more

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Postal Savings Bank Of China Tumbles As Stabilization Period Ends

October 24, 2016

Postal Savings Bank of China (1658.Hong Kong) tumbled for a second day, down 6.7% after its IPO bankers stopped supporting the stock. Li Guohua, Chairman of Postal Savings Bank of China (PSBC), bangs a gong during the company’s listing on the city’s stock exchange in Hong Kong on September 28, 2016. Postal Savings Bank of China (PSBC) launched on the Hong Kong stock exchange on September 28, after the world’s biggest initial public offering this year.  Postal Savings had it lucky. It managed to raise $7.4 billion in the world’s largest IPO since Alibaba Group‘s (BABA) $25 billion splash in 2014. It also managed to price its IPO at above book, whereas the Big 4 banks such as China Construction Bank (939.Hong Kong) and ICBC (1398.Hong Kong) were still trading at just 0.8 times book.  It was a good IPO thanks to cornerstone investors, who took up three-quarters of the IPO allotment. And most of those cornerstone investors are also state-owned enterprises. Brothers have got to help each other, right?…more

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Best Buy again offering free shipping through holiday season

October 24, 2016

For the second year in a row, Best Buy is offering free shipping on online purchases during the holiday shopping rush.  The promotion, which waives the Richfield-based electronics retailer’s usual $35 order threshold to qualify for free shipping, went live on Sunday. It will end on Dec. 24, about a week earlier than last year when it ran through Jan. 2...more

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USPS Study: Political Direct Mail Tops TV, Digital Ads in Helping Swing Voters Decide

October 19, 2016

According to a new survey, more than half of swing voters responding (58%) said direct mail is either “very helpful” or “somewhat helpful” in deciding how and whom to vote for, beating out television (55%), online (48%) and email (46%). Approximately one of three registered voters surveyed identified as a swing voter. Among those surveyed, 14% said they were “undecided,” and 18% said they “might change their minds.”  Not only do swing voters find mail helpful, the majority of them read it. The online survey, conducted by Summit Research, found 54% of swing voters surveyed say they read political direct mail immediately upon receiving it and 24% will save it to read later. There’s opportunity for campaigns: 52% of swing voters surveyed say they’ve not received any political mail at their residences. In comparison, 80% of these swing voters report seeing political television ads...more

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Free Broadband Initiatives for Poor and Rural Areas, With Eye on Future

October 11, 2016

There is an axiom in technology: New products typically go to wealthy customers first, before prices eventually fall to reach the masses.  With broadband now classified like a utility, telecom and tech companies including Sprint, Comcast and Facebook are increasingly working to make high-speed internet accessible to every American, not just a luxury. The companies are among those that have set their sights on bringing free or cheap high-speed internet service to low-income and rural populations in the United States, spurred by philanthropy and, for some, the hope of turning Americans who are not online today into full-paying customers in the future. Those goals were on display Tuesday, when Sprint announced that it planned to give one million low-income high school students a free device and a free high-speed data plan until graduation. Facebook is also working to bring to the United States a service known as Free Basics, which gives people free access to certain websites, including Facebook. Comcast recently loosened requirements for its low-cost broadband service, expanding it to anyone in public housing...more

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Amazon to Expand Grocery Business With New Convenience Stores

October 11, 2016

Amazon.com Inc. is pushing deeper into the grocery business with plans to introduce convenience stores as well as curbside pickup locations, say people familiar with the matter.  The Seattle company aims to build small brick-and-mortar stores that would sell produce, milk, meats and other perishable items that customers can take home, these people say. Primarily using their mobile phones or, possibly, touch screens around the store, customers could also order peanut butter, cereal and other goods with longer shelf lives for same-day delivery.  For customers seeking a quicker checkout, Amazon will soon begin rolling out designated drive-in locations where online grocery orders will be brought to the car, the people said. The company is developing license-plate reading technology to speed wait times...more

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THE REVERSE LOGISTICS REPORT: How retailers can save money by making returns smoother in the e-commerce age

October 10, 2016

When products are returned to a merchant, the merchant faces the costly process of either repurposing, reconditioning, or recycling the good. This multi-billion dollar problem is referred to as reverse logistics and it can cut into retailers profits by 10% to 20% every year. This problem will be even more exacerbated by the rise of e-commerce, as customers increasingly ship back goods to the retailer, who often might pay for the shipping costs. In a new in-depth report from BI Intelligence, we examine reverse logistics and discuss how retailers can take an omnichannel approach to help reduce the costs they bear from returned goods. In particular, the report examines the strategic reasons why retailers should implement a reverse logistics function and discusses the industries that are most at risk...more

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Higher shipping fees will force e-retailers to adjust

October 3, 2016

UPS and FedEx are raising their ground shipping rates 4.9% after the holidays, and some additional fees will kick in sooner.  As sure as the retail holiday season starts to ramp up, parcel carriers roll out new shipping rates for the coming year...more

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Love’s Trillium Keeps CNG Flowing in Arkansas; U.S. Postal Service Studies Alternative Fuels

October 3, 2016

…Meanwhile, the 200,000-vehicle fleet operating U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is studying alternative fuels for its ubiquitous general service delivery vehicles. Six different contractors have won the bidding to provide the USPS with up to 50 prototype alternative fuel vehicles for consideration in developing the new general delivery vehicle (GDV) for delivering America’s mail. Eventually, USPS is expected to buy hundreds of thousands of the GDVs, and the six firms vying for contracts are in line to get up to $37.4 million...more

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