inthenews

Recent News in Our Ecosystem

 

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 The country is calling on its once-outdated Polizia Postale, or postal police, to stop the spread of unfounded reports on the web…more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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Riding the Returns Wave: Reverse Logistics and the U.S. Postal Service

April 30, 2018

Reverse logistics is not just forward logistics backwards; it is more complex and more expensive. Yet it is becoming more prominent, since return rates for ecommerce purchases are three times higher than for traditional physical retail. The Postal Service handled 148 million return packages in FY 2016, but its share of the returns market is smaller than its share of the outbound parcel market, indicating a potential opportunity for growth. The Postal Service can use its unique advantages, including a vast delivery network that goes to almost every address in the U.S. and a retail network of more than 30,000 post offices, to expand and improve existing returns services and offer new services that will ease the burdensome returns process for customers. In 2016, the OIG issued a white paper, The Evolving Logistics Landscape and the U.S. Postal Service, that noted the continuing surge of ecommerce was fueling a rise in the number of packages returned. We now follow up on that work by identifying emerging trends in reverse logistics as well as potential opportunities for the Postal Service. Notably, the U.S. saw between $113 and $132 billion of online purchases returned in 2017. Facing increased pressure on their reverse supply chains, as well as lost revenue from negated sales, retailers are struggling to address returns in an era when consumers have come to expect fast, free, and easy returns. To address the threats and opportunities presented by ecommerce, the Postal Service could provide services close to its core competencies to serve ecommerce businesses reliant on return shipping as a part of their business model. The Postal Service is well situated to serve the product returns market and already offers many return shipping services demanded by ecommerce retailers and consumers…more

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PostalPitch Winner ZigZag Global Nominated for World Post & Parcel Award 2018

April 30, 2018

The World Post & Parcel Awards celebrates the successes of the emerging talents in mail and express from the past year. This year’s shortlist showcases a host of progressive businesses. All have demonstrated their ability to adapt to change and embrace the opportunities presented by great upheaval in the industry. The overall winners of the Awards will be announced at a gala presentation evening on Tuesday 12 June at the Royal Lancaster London Hotel, which also plays host to the World Mail and Express Europe Conference, to be held from 11-13 June. The shortlist includes recent PostalPitch Innovation StartUp Award winner ZigZag Global, who received the award at the recent PostalVision 2020 event in Washington, DC…more

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The Pros and Cons of Postal Banking

April 30, 2018

After weeks of railing against online shopping giant Amazon, President Trump signed an executive order Thursday creating a task force to study the United States Postal System. In the surprise move, Mr. Trump said that USPS is on “an unsustainable financial path” and “must be restructured to prevent a taxpayer-funded bailout.” The task force will be assigned to study factors including USPS’s pricing in the package delivery market and will have 120 days to submit a report with recommendations…more

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Prime Price Hike Gives Amazon Warchest for Fight Over Postal Costs

April 28, 2018

Amazon.com Inc’s 20 percent hike in the cost of Prime membership should deliver more than $1 billion (roughly Rs. 6,662 crores) in extra revenue this year and cover any “rational” hike in United States Postal Service delivery fees, Wall Street analysts say. President Donald Trump has been laying into the Seattle-based online shopping firm in recent weeks for what he says is a deal with publicly-owned USPS which effectively lumps much of the cost of thousands of daily deliveries onto U.S. taxpayers. Trump has said that if USPS raised parcel rates, Amazon would face $2.6 billion (roughly Rs. 17,321 crores) in extra cost, although equity analysts who follow billionaire Jeff Bezos’ company estimate a much lower number and say the deal may actually be keeping USPS afloat. Several said that Thursday’s move by the company to raise Prime fees to $119 a year from $99 starting June 16 would not faze many of Prime’s estimated 60-65 million U.S. members…more

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Amazon will now deliver packages to the trunk of your car

April 24, 2018

Last year, Amazon asked for permission to unlock your front door so it could leave packages inside your home, and a certain number of extremely trusting Amazon Prime subscribers (Amazon won’t say how many) said okay. Now, the tech giant wants to do the same thing with your car.  Amazon announced today a new service that gives its couriers access to a person’s vehicle for the purpose of leaving package deliveries inside. But rather than use smart locks and a cloud-connected camera to gain entry, Amazon wants to use the connected technologies embedded in many modern vehicles today. The company is launching this new service in partnership with two major automakers — General Motors and Volvo — and will be rolling out in 37 cities in the US starting today…more

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Returns Solution for Merchants Wins PostalPitch Startup Award

April 13, 2018

A company that helps merchants with returns has won the PostalPitch Startup Award. The competition was held at the 8th annual PostalVision 2020 conference this month. Product returns are costly and frustrating for sellers, and ZigZag Global promises to reduce costs and manage the process for customers. Here’s how the winning company describes its service:  “ZigZag Global is a software solution to help ecommerce retailers manage returns globally. ZigZag uses predictive analytics to understand the most cost effective and energy efficient route to work out if a retailer should hold and resell returned products in local markets or bring them back via consolidation. Our mission is to help retailers become more sustainable whilst cutting costs by up to 50% and improving the speed of customer refunds by getting stock back in the supply chain more quickly.”  The PostalPitch StartUp competition invited entrepreneurs from all over the world to present their latest ideas, products and solutions to the greater global postal-parcel-logistics-delivery industry at the recent PostalVision event. A jury of industry experts narrowed down the entries to nine finalists who were invited to PostalVision to pitch their solution…more

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Trump forms task force to study U.S. Postal Service

April 12, 2018

After weeks of railing against online shopping giant Amazon, President Trump signed an executive order Thursday creating a task force to study the United States Postal System. In the surprise move, Mr. Trump said that USPS is on “an unsustainable financial path” and “must be restructured to prevent a taxpayer-funded bailout.” The task force will be assigned to study factors including USPS’s pricing in the package delivery market and will have 120 days to submit a report with recommendations…more

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Trump Renews Amazon Attack, Says ‘Post Office Scam’ Must Stop

March 31, 2018

President Donald Trump lit into Amazon.com Inc. for the second time in three days with a pair of Twitter messages that said the online retailer “must pay real costs (and taxes) now!” The president on Saturday claimed, citing reports he didn’t specify, that the U.S. Postal Service “will lose $1.50 on average for each package it delivers for Amazon” and added that the “Post Office scam must stop.” Amazon has said the postal service, which has financial problems stretching back for years, makes money on its deliveries…more

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Retiree health premiums and postal reform

March 30, 2018

When politicians introduce legislation with “reform” in its title, Washington’s political veterans know it probably means one of two things. Either it is:  A must-pass piece of legislation that will solve lots of problems and make things better or…it is time to prepare for a spanking.  So it is with the new Postal Service Reform Act introduced in the Senate. Its cosponsors — three Democrats and one Republican — said it would put the U.S. Postal Service on a better financial foundation. Opponents say that by requiring Medicare Part B enrollment for retirees who already have health insurance it could mean higher health insurance costs for postal retirees and, down the road, maybe for all civil service annuitants…more

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Amazon, Despite Trump Criticism, Really Delivers for the Postal Service

March 29, 2018

A presidential tweet Thursday suggested Amazon Inc. is exploiting the public mail system for its own gain. The company has benefited from the U.S. Postal Service’s cheap and vast delivery network, but the online retail giant also has bolstered the agency’s struggling operations….more

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Shyp CEO Announces End Of Delivery Startup

March 27, 2018

Crunchbase News has covered delivery companies repeatedly over the past year. With Instacart ramping up for grocery delivery in its competition with Amazon and Softbank betting $535 million on food delivery company DoorDash. However, the delivery world, as some have found, is not as lucrative as it might seem. Shyp is the latest victim in the sphere. As CEO Kevin Gibbon wrote in an announcement today, the company is shutting down operations, effective immediately….more

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FEDEX BUYS P2P MAILING

March 27, 2018

FedEx has bought the international e-commerce delivery solutions provider P2P Mailing Limited from The Delivery Group for £92m. In a statement sent to Post&Parcel today (27 March), FedEx said that P2P’s capabilities “complement and expand the FedEx portfolio of offerings important to the rapidly growing global e-commerce marketplace”. P2P will operate as a subsidiary of FedEx Cross Border within the FedEx Trade Networks operating company. “Global e-commerce continues to grow at a rapid pace, and more and more merchants, marketplaces, e-commerce and social platforms are looking for innovative, cost-effective ways to get merchandise from distribution points in one country to customers in another,” said Carl W. Asmus, president and CEO, FedEx Cross Border…more

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Postal Service Reform Legislation Introduced in Senate

March 26, 2018

Legislation has been introduced in the Senate in an attempt to improve the ailing finances of the Postal Service. The Postal Service is hemorrhaging money, having now reported 11 straight years of financial losses. Its latest financial report showed a $540 million net loss for the first quarter of FY 2018. These losses came amidst the busy Christmas shipping season in which the Postal Service set a record on December 18th when it delivered more than 37 million packages, yet it still had a net loss for the quarter…more

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FedEx zeroes in on reverse logistics

March 23, 2018

FedEx announced a new platform for package returns, dubbed FedEx Returns Technology, that will enable merchants to manage their returns and give customers access to an easier return process, CNBC reports. The company didn’t specify when it planned to make this offering available to retailers and their customers, but it offered several details on its potential use…more

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Walmart opening FedEx Office locations in 500 stores

March 21, 2018

FedEx Office, a subsidiary of FedEx, on Tuesday announced it will bring 500 new FedEx Office packing, shipping and printing locations to U.S. Walmart stores. At ShopTalk in Las Vegas the companies said a pilot program had successfully driven more traffic to the retailer while smoothing logistical problems.  The companies piloted the effort in 47 Walmart stores in six states, and will expand in the next 24 months, according to a FedEx press release…more

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Walmart’s Ecommerce CEO Explains Why Its Many Acquisitions Will Help It Reach Millennials

March 21, 2018

While Walmart’s acquisitions of ModCloth, Jet, Bonobos appear like a game of catch up to the rest of the industry, Marc Lore, president and CEO of Walmart Ecommerce US, said there’s a bigger strategy at play. Part of that plan is bringing together the knowledge of all these digitally native brands into the world of Walmart, shared Lore at Shoptalk, a retail conference held in Las Vegas. “[We’re] trying to create a portfolio of these brands that give us proprietary content for a reason for [a] millennial to come shop inside the Walmart ecosystem,” Lore said “We’re not going out making billion dollar acquisitions. We’re buying companies that can help accelerate us to the fundamentals.” Andy Dunn, founder and CEO of Bonobos and svp of digital consumer brands at Walmart, believes these acquisitions will let Walmart “play offense.”…more

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FedEx launches comprehensive returns tool

March 21, 2018

FedEx’s newly launched Returns Technology tool is a full visibility tool for the reverse supply chain, allowing e-tailers to track the return of items from the consumer back to the warehouse. The reverse logistics tool intends to allow e-tailers to “manage inventory, analyze returns trends and make more informed decisions based on shoppers’ returns behaviors.” As e-commerce swallows consumer spending, it’s increasingly important for 3PLs to offer retailers and e-tailers a more efficient and effective returns method….more

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Online Returns Represent Big Business

March 20, 2018

Product returns may be costly headaches for online sellers, but shipping carriers and liquidators see opportunity. FedEx just launched a new feature to help merchants, and the United States Postmaster General recently said the USPS wants to “own” the returns business.  On Monday, FedEx launched FedEx Returns Technology, a comprehensive solution for returns management…more

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How Instacart Survived Amazon

March 19, 2018

The 2007 launch of AmazonFresh drew blood from the grocery industry, beginning Amazon’s shark-like strategy of long, slow circling, culminating with an attack in the form of its Whole Foods acquisition last year. Yet rival delivery service Instacart has managed to remain afloat and continues to ink partnerships with grocers, most recently Kroger. The success of both companies indicates that, at least for the time being, grocers can leverage partnerships to swim and not sink.  Nearly 60% of grocers in L2’s inaugural Digital IQ Index: Grocery that have brick-and-mortar stores partner with Instacart, leveraging the platform to serve additional markets and complement their own delivery offerings. In regions where Instacart overlaps with brand-owned delivery, however, the platform is not always the most cost-effective option for consumers. To use Instacart, shoppers must pay a $5.99 service fee as well as additional fees during peak hours. In addition, groceries on Instacart are more expensive. The sticker price of the average item is 18% higher on Instacart than on the corresponding grocer’s e-commerce site. While the platform seeks to appeal to shoppers’ desire to find deals—L2 researchers found that 38% of top-ranking Instacart items were on sale—even baskets on sale were 12% more expensive. When L2 researchers shopped for a basket of 10 items on a Safeway Instacart page in Phoenix, seven items were on sale, none of which were discounted on shop.safeway.com. Yet even with all discounts applied, the Instacart basket still cost more…more

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DHL Steps Back Into U.S. Package Delivery in Challenge to UPS, FedEx

March 15, 2018

Deutsche Post AG’s DPSGY -0.80% DHL business is tiptoeing back into the domestic parcel delivery in the U.S., drawn in by the strong growth in e-commerce to bring new competition to a market that’s been dominated by United Parcel Service Inc. and FedEx Corp. FDX -1.18% for a decade. DHL said Thursday it is launching a new same-day and next-day delivery service for online retailers in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. The service will expand to Dallas, Atlanta, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., by the end of the year, and will rapidly add more cities over the next few years. “We pay a lot of attention to what consumers are demanding of the online marketplaces and retailers they’re buying from,” said Lee Spratt, chief executive of DHL eCommerce’s Americas division. “Faster, cost-effective delivery is going to be a future requirement to play in this space.” The firm has been testing its new delivery service, dubbed Parcel Metro, in select cities over the last two years. The service engages drivers through crowd-sourced applications for deliveries within a few hours and taps into local couriers and delivery companies for one- and two-day deliveries, using DHL eCommerce’s warehouse facilities to consolidate orders…more

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Walmart to Offer Home Delivery of Groceries in 100 Cities

March 14, 2018

Walmart Inc. will offer home delivery of groceries in 100 cities by the end of the year and launch same-day delivery in New York City, adopting a costly model it previously resisted as Amazon, Kroger and Target invest in similar services. Under the new program, online grocery orders will be packed in a Walmart store by company workers and then handed off to a delivery company or startup that uses contract workers to bring orders to homes, said a Walmart spokesman…more

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Waymo and Google Launch a self-driving truck pilot in Atlanta

March 9, 2018

Waymo’s autonomous trucking program is coming along – though we haven’t heard much about it since discovering it was a real thing last year, Waymo today announced that it’s launching a pilot program in Atlanta to focus specifically on self-driving trucks and automated logistics. The pilot is being done in partnership with Google, another Alphabet company and Waymo’s former direct owner back when it was the Google self-driving car project. Waymo’s trucks will be hauling cargo destined for Google’s Atlanta-based data centres as part of the program…more

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Uber’s self-driving trucks are now delivering freight in Arizona

March 6, 2018

Uber’s big push to dominate the trucking industry took a leap forward today with the announcement that the ride-hailing giant is now operating its fleet of self-driving trucks on its freight-hauling app. The shipments are taking place in Arizona, where the ride-hailing giant is also testing out its robot taxis. Uber said it is using a transfer hub model, in which the trucks drive autonomously on the highway and human drivers take over for the last miles…more

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Reverse Logistics in the “Age of Entitlement”

March 5, 2018

The word reverse has long had a negative connotation, as linguists place it in the same grimy nook as “return,” “retreat,” “retread” and “rerun.” Indeed, for many logistics and supply chain professionals, reverse logistics for years has been regarded as pejorative expression. But in today’s era of the fickle e-commerce customer, the reverse loop represents an untapped opportunity for hard-working, imaginative logistics managers and their third-party logistics partners. Tony Sciarrotta, executive director of the Reverse Logistics Association (RLA), maintains that with the return rate of e-commerce purchases being three to four times higher than that for brick-and-mortar purchases, the reverse sector is only going to grow in future years. “With consumers insisting on free returns, reverse logistics is going to be under a lot of pressure to satisfy consumer expectations and demand,” says Sciarrotta. “Furthermore, consumers feel entitled to return goods when they realize that they don’t want or need them.”…more

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Postal Service Profits Again Tumble During Holiday Season

Feb. 9, 2018

The Postal Service’s earnings during the busy holiday season fell once again in fiscal 2018, with controllable income dropping by nearly one-third and leading to a net loss of $540 million. The mailing agency saw a controllable income—in which USPS excludes items that are out of management’s hands, such as non-cash workers’ compensation—of $353 million during the Oct. 1, 2017-Dec. 31, 2017 period. That was down from $522 million during the same period in fiscal 2017, which itself was down from $1.1 billion in fiscal 2016. USPS blamed the losses on decreases in first-class and marketing mail volume, higher retiree health care expenses and an increase in transportation costs. The agency brought in a total of $19.2 billion in total revenue, unchanged from a year prior. The Postal Service’s operating expenses increased by 11 percent, however, to $19.7 billion. That was in part due to the continued growth of the more labor-intensive package business, which saw a 7 percent uptick in the quarter. Mail volume, on the other hand, declined by 2 billion pieces, or 5 percent…more

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L.L. Bean Scraps Legendary Lifetime Return Policy

Feb. 9, 2018

L.L. Bean’s outdoor gear — including its signature Bean Boots prized by campers and hipsters alike — is no longer guaranteed for life. In a letter to customers Friday morning, the company said it has updated its return policy to give customers one year to return purchases, with a receipt. The previous lifetime guarantee, which enabled customers to return products years — or even decades — after purchase, has long been a selling point for the company. “Increasingly, a small, but growing number of customers has been interpreting our guarantee well beyond its original intent. Some view it as a lifetime product replacement program, expecting refunds for heavily worn products used over many years. Others seek refunds for products that have been purchased through third parties, such as at yard sales.”‘ L.L. Bean says the policy update will affect only a “small percentage” of returns and pledged to keep its mission of selling “high quality products that inspire and enable people to enjoy the outdoors.” The company says if a product is defective, it will “work with our customers to reach a fair solution” even after a year…more

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Why your Amazon packages may soon arrive faster

Feb. 9, 2018

Amazon has explored everything from drones to smart door locks allowing deliveries to be made inside customer homes. Now the company is undertaking another part of the retail process: Shipping. Amazon AMZN, -0.81% launched its own shipping service in Los Angeles this week, which will deliver packages directly from third party companies to consumers. The new “Shipping with Amazon” service cuts FedEx FDX, -1.65% and UPS UPS, -2.64% out of the equation to further streamline the delivery process. Amazon already delivers some of its own orders in at least 37 U.S. cities and the company will roll out the service in more cities in coming weeks, The Wall Street Journalreported Friday. Prices for Amazon Prime, a membership that includes free two-day shipping, recently increased to $156 per year. Orders over $25 on Amazon include free standard shipping, and otherwise shipping is $5.99 per order. But what does this mean for your packages? If successful, it could mean fewer delays, faster delivery, and cheaper prices, said Eytan Buchman, vice president of marketing at freight disruption startup Freightos. Amazon has expressed interest in entering the cargo operating world since 2013, shortly after holiday deliveries were delayed by a FedEx mixup…more

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ASENDIA BUYS GLOBEGISTICS

Feb. 8, 2018

Asendia has acquired the US-based global e-commerce and mail company Globegistics. Globegistics has five facilities in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Miami, which will further strengthen Asendia’s presence in North America. Globegistics will join the Asendia Group – which was founded by La Poste and Swiss Post – with 15 subsidiaries in Asia, Europe and the USA. Globegistics and Asendia USA will operate as independent entities under their current leadership and will explore opportunities which may be beneficial to both companies…more

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Reverse Logistics Association Examines “Circular Economy”

Feb. 7, 2018

With the flourishing of e-commerce, product returns have become even more nettlesome for today’s global supply chain managers. At the same time, however, new revenue streams are being created in the 3pl and warehousing sectors. “The Circular Economy” is the theme addressed by The Reverse Logistics Association’s (RLA) at its annual conference and expo in Las Vegas this week. Tony Sciarrotta, RLA’s executive director, maintains that with the return rate of e-commerce purchases being three to four times higher than that for brick-and-mortar purchases, the reverse sector is only going to grow in future years. But not all of the news is good, he cautions. “With consumers insisting on free returns, reverse logistics is going to be under a lot of pressure to satisfy consumer expectations and demand,” he says. “Furthermore, they feel entitled to return goods when they realize that they don’t want or need them.” The industrial landscape is undergoing profound change as well, say real estate experts…more

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Postal Service Under Increasing Pressure

Feb. 6, 2018

It wasn’t long ago that the national postal service Postnord Denmark was outlining its plans to break even by 2020 by delivering post and parcels together. But it won’t be plain sailing. Firstly, it will face competition from Dansk Supermarked’s new initiative, which will enable customers to send packages from 365 selected Føtex, Netto and Bilka stores – at a reported discount of 30-50 percent on Postnord Denmark. It will surprise many customers to note that some of the supermarkets, which already host Postnord Denmark outlets for sending and receiving packages, will soon open their own. Secondly, there is now talk that Postnord’s Swedish parent company Postnord Sweden plans to start charging customers to receive packages, raising speculation the same practice could be introduced in Denmark…more

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The rising cost of retail returns fraud

Jan. 18, 2018

New benchmark data released by ACI Worldwide shows a “consistent, alarming uptick in fraudulent activity on key dates”. While online transactions among top U.S. retailers increased by 19% during the recent holiday season, fraud increased by 22%. Peak fraudulent days were Thanksgiving Day (1.94%, up from 1.26% in 2016), Christmas Eve (1.78%, up from 1.48%) and December 21 – the cutoff date for express shipments – (1.67%, up from 1.49%). According to Erika Dietrich, Director of Risk Management at ACI Worldwide, “merchants must be proactive in their efforts to identify weak points across the omni-channel payment process and define the short- and long-term strategies necessary to improve security and enhance customer experience”….more

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Trucking Industry Struggles With Growing Driver Shortage

Jan. 9, 2018

America needs more truck drivers. The trucking industry is facing a growing shortage of drivers that is pushing some retailers to delay nonessential shipments or pay high prices to get their goods delivered on time. A report from the American Trucking Associations says more than 70 percent of goods consumed in the U.S. are moved by truck, but the industry needs to hire almost 900,000 more drivers to meet rising demand….more

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Norwegian postal service commits to Tesla Semi order in effort to electrify fleet

Jan. 9, 2018

The Tesla Semi continues to get the attention of companies beyond the United States. Posten Norge, a Norwegian postal service that’s otherwise known as Norway Post, recently placed its order for the Tesla Semi, bolstering its commitment to electrify its fleet of long-haulers. According to Norway Post press head John Eckhoff, the Tesla Semi meets the needs of the European state-owned firm, which is currently aiming for a full transition towards an emissions-free fleet by 2025. Considering the features and capabilities of the Tesla Semi, the massive long-hauler could play a significant role in ensuring that Norway Post does achieve its goal. “We see that the future is electric in all vehicle segments. Therefore, it is important for us to test new technology as early as possible. Technology development is very fast, and the future electric vehicles seem to meet our needs in terms of reach, safety, and costs,” Eckhoff said, according to an E24 report….more

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USPS Loses Executive Responsible for Flat Rate Priority Mail

Jan. 3, 2018

Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan announced that Chief Customer and Marketing Officer James Cochrane will retire next month after more than 43 years of service to the USPS, saying he has had a lasting impact” on the organization and the mailing and shipping industry.  “In his recent roles as chief customer and marketing officer and chief information officer, and in numerous prior roles in Operations, Sales, Marketing and Information Technology, he has been an innovative leader, anticipating our business challenges, identifying growth opportunities and formulating and executing strategies to improve our ability to compete for customers,” Brennan wrote. Prior to his current position, Cochrane had been Chief Information Officer for the Postal Service, and he spoke at industry events on efforts to keep mail relevant in an increasingly digital age. Speaking at the PostalVision 2020 conference in 2015, he talked about the importance of analytics. “We want to be an information-driven enterprise. That’s really the future for us – using information to become more targeted.”….more

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Amazon grabbed 4 percent of all US retail sales in 2017, new study says

Jan. 3, 2018

Amazon was responsible for about 44 percent of all U.S. e-commerce sales last year, or about 4 percent of the country’s total retail sales figure, according to data from One Click Retail. The fastest-growing product groups on Amazon.com in 2017 included luxury beauty and pantry items, the firm found. The most dollar sales were tied to consumer electronics (more than $8 billion), such as the Amazon Echo devices….more

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Holiday returns to reach 1.4M in one day

Jan. 2, 2018

Consumers are expected to return about 1.4 million packages to retailers on National Returns Day (January 3), an increase of about 8% from this time last year and considered to be the peak of the post-holiday returns season, according to a UPS press release. UPS further stated that more than 1 million returns were shipped daily during December, part of the 750 million packages UPS was expecting to deliver between Thanksgiving and New Years Eve, almost 40 million more packages than it delivered during the same period last year. Meanwhile, Walmart has introduced Mobile Express Returns, a capability that allows customers to use the Walmart app to initiate the returns process, which they can complete at the store through the Mobile Express Lane by scanning a QR code and handing their package off to a Walmart associate, according to the Walmart Today blog…more

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Amazon shipped an astonishing number of Prime packages in 2017

Jan. 2, 2018

So that’s another year done and dusted, as the British say, and Amazon, never backward in coming forward when it comes to rolling out stats trumpeting its various services, has just rolled out a bunch of stats trumpeting one aspect of its gargantuan online operation. Throwing the spotlight on its $99-a-year Prime service (but still refusing to tell us how many people are signed up to it), the Seattle-based company revealed that members’ orders led to a colossal 5 billion shipments worldwide in 2017. That’s a helluva lot of picking, packing, and delivery driving, with a good chunk of them made in recent weeks as consumers went online-shopping crazy for friends, family, and of course, themselves. In a release highlighting its bumper year, Amazon was keen to remind us of the delivery benefits enjoyed by Prime members, which include free two-day shipping “on more than 100 million items … free one-day shipping and free same-day delivery in more than 8,000 U.S. cities and towns, and two-hour delivery with Prime Now in more than 30 major cities.”…more

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E-Commerce In 2018: Here’s What The Experts Are Predicting

Dec 15, 2017

The retail & e-commerce landscape is shifting dramatically. Review the current state of retail and you will see the ‘retail apocalypse’ impacting an incredible amount of household brands, with stores closing with increased frequency. Decisions are being made to shutter less profitable brick-and-mortar locations, while others brands are ditching brick-and-mortar all together. As a result, retailers are doubling-down on their e-commerce efforts at a rapid pace. Current retail trends show that 51% of Americans prefer online shopping, with ecommerce growing 23% year-over-year. Ecommerce is expected to change at an even faster rate as brands embrace the power of voice search and omni-platform/omni-device options. Voice assistants are already being used to make purchases by 40% of millennials, with that number expected to exceed 50% by 2020. This transformation of the digital retail landscape will only continue to grow as more consumers integrate digital devices into their shopping habits. With this real-time retail disruption happening, it was time to poll the industry and eight ecommerce luminaries share their thoughts on the future of e-commerce in 2018 and beyond. Here are the anticipated retail trends, offline and online, to be aware of…more

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UPS bets on blockchain as the future of the trillion-dollar shipping industry

Dec 15, 2017

The world is run by trade. Freight and logistics in the U.S. alone account for nearly $1.5 trillion annually (2015 data). As the world’s economies scale up, that number is only expected to increase as we become more dependent on the international supply chain for our goods and services. The industry, however, is not prepared for growth, as it currently sits on top of a crumbling infrastructure prone to systematic inefficiencies and rampant fraud. Countless intermediaries rake in fees and drive up the price of shipping. The problem is that the complexity and opaqueness of the process make it difficult to put checks and balances in place. The FBI estimates that cargo theft causes an annual loss of approximately $30 billion per year (U.S.), with an average theft value of $190,000. In effect, cargo theft can cost consumers up to 20 percent more for their goods. And though most of the problem areas have been well-documented for decades, the distributed nature of ownership has instilled little accountability in any of the industry’s stakeholders. However, disruption is coming to the industry in the form of blockchain technology, which promises to deliver a cheaper and more efficient system of managing logistics. Innovative startups, as well as major incumbent parties, are investing enormous amounts of time and resources in blockchain development. Most recently, UPS announced they were going to join the Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA), a forum for the development of blockchain technology standards and education for the freight industry. The alliance hopes to spur standards development for the shipping industry as a whole by implementing a secure blockchain system. Why now? Why is UPS, along with hundreds of other major companies, betting on blockchain?…more

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Online sellers could face $32B in returned goods this year

Dec 15, 2017

With online sales reaching as much as $107.4 billion this year, up from approximately $93 billion in 2016, CBRE estimates that the likely value of returns is $32 billion, up from 2016’s estimated $28 billion. Returns of brick-and-mortar purchases tend to hover at 8% percent, while e-commerce returns can reach as high as 15% to 30%, depending on the product. Retailers’ ability to handle the reverse logistics of unwanted merchandise can determine market success or failure, according to the real estate firm’s report…more

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Take that Amazon: Target buys Shipt for $550M

Dec 13, 2017

Target on Wednesday announced the acquisition of same-day delivery platform Shipt for $550 million in cash, one of the largest acquisitions in Target’s history, the company said in a blog post. Shipt, which will continue to operate independently under CEO Bill Smith, was founded in 2014 and operates in more than 72 U.S. markets. Shipt will be a wholly owned Target subsidiary, but its offices will remain in Birmingham, AL, and San Francisco. At launch next spring, Target will offer same-day delivery of groceries, essentials, home, electronics and other products; by the end of 2019, it will include all major product categories, the company said…more

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Amazon may have patented the next big thing in online shopping

Dec 1, 2017

User-generated Amazon reviews are one of the most important ways that consumers find products and decide what to buy. So much so that Amazon has consistently shown itself to be Google’s competitor in e-commerce search. Almost all Amazon product reviews are written but, as business research firm L2 wrote, Amazon is now pivoting to video. It’s a broad strategy with Amazon inviting some of its 2 million merchant partners to join the test program, where videos will be posted to the site in mid-December. According to L2, “this feature is a logical step given how often consumers watch how-to and product review videos before making purchases. By adding the feature, Amazon clearly aims to keep shoppers on its own site, preventing them from migrating to YouTube or social media platforms.” There’s potentially another reason for Amazon to promote the use of video in e-commerce. It now has a way to offer customers discounts for watching ads. In October, Amazon was awarded a patent for “content-based price reductions and incentives.” The patent says that “customers in an electronic environment can be presented with the option to receive advertising, such as audio, video, or interactive content, in order to receive discounted pricing or similar benefits.”….more

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Amazon patents self-destructing drone that falls apart in an emergency

Dec 1, 2017

One of the big worries about delivery drones is what happens if something goes wrong mid-delivery? We don’t want people’s parcels (or the drones carrying them) falling from the sky, causing damage and injury. Well, Amazon thinks this might not actually be a bad idea — as long as the drones fall safely. Earlier this week, the company was granted a patent for the “direct fragmentation for unmanned airborne vehicles.” In other words: a drone that takes itself apart midair if something goes wrong….more

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China’s high street finds growth alongside ecommerce

Nov. 30, 2017

As investors in the US bet that traditional stores will not survive the “Amazon effect”, bricks and mortar stores in China’s $4.8tn retail market have maintained annual sales growth of about 10 per cent even as its ecommerce sector has become the world’s largest. China’s two largest ecommerce platforms Alibaba and JD.com racked up $44bn in gross merchandise value during this month’s Singles Day sales promotion. The haul symbolises the explosive growth in online sales in China, which last year were twice that of the US. Among those Chinese shoppers who use ecommerce, more than 46 per cent of their retail purchases are made online, analysis by consultancy Mintel suggests. According to consultancy Euromonitor, about 35 per cent of Chinese consumer electronics purchases are made over the internet. But physical retailers are finding ways to survive and thrive…more

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Buy FedEx for the long haul because of ‘generational shift’ to e-commerce, Barclays says

Nov. 30, 2017

Delivering packages by rocket and developments in blockchain technology may be the future of shipping, but the latest bullish case for FedEx looks at a different industry transformation: e-commerce. “A generational shift to ecommerce shipments, solid global trade prospects, management’s incremental focus on improving returns and a cheap valuation make FedEx shares a compelling opportunity,” Barclays transportation analyst Brandon Oglenski wrote in a note Thursday. FedEx is no “unicorn stock,” Oglenski said, but it is the firm’s top pick when “left choosing between less than ideal outcomes” among transportation companies. Barclays sees FedEx stock gaining 20 percent from Wednesday’s close at $225.93. “A solid backdrop for global transportation demand and greater focus on properly pricing the robust but less efficient ecommerce growth should help assuage many market fears, leaving plenty of upside potential in FedEx,” Oglenski wrote…more

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

Nov. 20, 2017

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

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

Nov. 19, 2017

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

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HOW USING BLOCKCHAIN CAN HELP COMMUNICATION AND BUILD CIRCULARITY

Nov. 17, 2017

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

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Study: Reverse logistics still a puzzle for omnichannel retailers

Nov. 17, 2017

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

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

Nov. 17, 2017

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

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Shoppers want free shipping this holiday season

Nov. 8, 2017

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

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Shipping Giant UPS Joins Blockchain in Trucking Alliance

Nov. 8, 2017

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

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

Nov. 2, 2017

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

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Getting Retailers To The Point Of No Returns

Nov. 2, 2017

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

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Amazon’s next targets: FedEx and UPS

Nov. 1, 2017

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

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

Nov. 1, 2017

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

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

Nov. 1, 2017

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

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

Oct. 26, 2017

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

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Study: Online shoppers prefer easy in-store returns

Oct. 26, 2017

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

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

Oct. 26, 2017

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

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

Oct. 26, 2017

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

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

Oct. 24, 2017

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

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Saudi Postal plans new distribution centres with view to privatisation

Oct. 18, 2017

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

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

Oct. 17, 2017

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

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

Oct. 16, 2017

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

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Walmart announces speedy returns program

Oct. 10, 2017

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

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Deutsche Post tests postal delivery robot

Oct. 4, 2017

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

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This intriguing drone concept drops packages straight into your hands

Oct. 4, 2017

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

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The Next Place For Tech To Tackle: Reverse Logistics

Oct. 4, 2017

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

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

Oct. 3, 2017

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

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Walmart buys NYC parcel delivery company

Oct. 3, 2017

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

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Royal Mail staff vote to strike over pensions

Oct. 3, 2017

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

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

Oct. 3, 2017

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

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USPS OIG White Paper on USPS and Autonomous Vehicles

Oct. 2, 2017

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

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Chinese ecommerce giant JD eyes driverless deliveries

Oct. 2, 2017

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

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Lyft reportedly exploring first step towards IPO

Oct. 1, 2017

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

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Decline in number of European retailers offering free returns

Sept. 27, 2017

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

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

Sept. 20, 2017

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

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Why it’s time to reroute urban deliveries and logistics

Sept. 20, 2017

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

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Amazon is firing on all cylinders to grow its retail presence

Sept. 19, 2017

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

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FedEx rolls out 2018 rate increases

Sept. 19, 2017

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

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Leveraging Returns as Part of the Online Shopping Experience

Sept. 16, 2017

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

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Consumer Startup Happy Returns Brings In $4 Million

Sept. 14, 2017

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

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DoorDash acquires delivery and logistics startup Rickshaw

Sept. 14, 2017

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

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

Sept. 13, 2017

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

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The Transformation of the American Shopping Mall

Sept. 12, 2017

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

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

Sept. 12, 2017

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

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

Sept. 11, 2017

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

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Pitney Bowes boosts delivery offerings with Newgistics acquisition

Sept. 11, 2017

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

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

Sept. 7, 2017

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