inthenews

Recent News in Our Ecosystem

 

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

Sept. 20, 2017

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

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Why it’s time to reroute urban deliveries and logistics

Sept. 20, 2017

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

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Amazon is firing on all cylinders to grow its retail presence

Sept. 19, 2017

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

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FedEx rolls out 2018 rate increases

Sept. 19, 2017

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

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Leveraging Returns as Part of the Online Shopping Experience

Sept. 16, 2017

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

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Consumer Startup Happy Returns Brings In $4 Million

Sept. 14, 2017

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

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DoorDash acquires delivery and logistics startup Rickshaw

Sept. 14, 2017

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

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

Sept. 13, 2017

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

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The Transformation of the American Shopping Mall

Sept. 12, 2017

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

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

Sept. 12, 2017

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

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

Sept. 11, 2017

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

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Pitney Bowes boosts delivery offerings with Newgistics acquisition

Sept. 11, 2017

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

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

Sept. 7, 2017

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

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Postal bank planning 2nd offering

August 31, 2017

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

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National Postal Strike Looms Unless Company Changes Direction

August 30, 2017

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

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Royal Mail unveils all-electric postal vans

August 24, 2017

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

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

August 24, 2017

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

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Walmart Online Sales Spike

August 17, 2017

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

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

August 17, 2017

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

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Thailand To Apply Blockchain To Postal Services And IoT To Railways

August 16, 2017

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

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

August 15, 2017

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

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Inside the Increasingly Complex Algorithms That Get Packages to Your Door

August 15, 2017

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

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

August 15, 2017

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

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Aldi enters grocery delivery in partnership with Instacart

August 14, 2017

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

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Business Rivals Agree on Policy

August 14, 2017

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

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

August 10, 2017

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

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UPS introduces online returns service for e-commerce merchants

August 9, 2017

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

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Many Unhappy Returns: E-commerce’s Achilles Heel

August 9, 2017

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

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Postal Service may get more freedom to raise stamp prices

August 9, 2017

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

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UPS introduces online returns service for e-commerce merchants

August 9, 2017

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

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

August 8, 2017

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

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NIPOST Adopts What3Words System

August 3, 2017

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

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Last-mile delivery via drone

July 31, 2017

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

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Retail Ecommerce in Germany to Top $65 Billion

July 31, 2017

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

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

July 30, 2017

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

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eBay to Highlight Free Returns with New Search Filter

July 27, 2017

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

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How small logistics companies can beat the big boys

July 27, 2017

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

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

July 26, 2017

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

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

July 26, 2017

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

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Watch Out PayPal, Amazon May Be Your Next Rival

July 25, 2017

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

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

July 25, 2017

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

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Analysis: FedEx may have to compromise between growth and profitability

July 18, 2017

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

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USPS to raise rates on pair of international mail services

July 13, 2017

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

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Analyst: Amazon poised to enter drugstore market

July 5, 2017

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

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Study: Consumers’ shipping expectations higher than ever

June 27, 2017

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

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Another postal reform effort fades away

June 27, 2017

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

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Pay of new Australian postal service boss more than halved

June 26, 2017

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

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Amazon Lets Prime Members Try on Clothes for Free

June 22, 2017

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

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Study: Retailers experiencing e-fulfillment growing pains

June 20, 2017

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

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In China, a robot has started delivering packages to people

June 19, 2017

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

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3 ways AI is already impacting ecommerce

June 19, 2017

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

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

June 19, 2017

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

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

June 19, 2017

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

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UPS will add more surcharges for the US holiday season

June 19, 2017

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

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

June 15, 2017

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

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

June 15, 2017

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

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E-commerce logistics startup raises $17.5 million

June 14, 2017

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

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German postal service enlists Ford for electric vans drive

June 14, 2017

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

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COLLABORATION FOR A CIRCULAR ECONOMY: THREE NEW STUDIES RELEASED

June 12, 2017

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

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

June 5, 2017

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

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

June 4, 2017

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

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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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