This Week in Logistics News (July 5-9, 2010)

LeBron James is playing for the Miami Heat next year. Lindsey Lohan is going to jail. The U.S. and Russia traded spies.

I could stop here, but in case your world doesn’t just revolve around athletes, celebrities, and espionage, here’s what else happened this week:

It seems like there’s a new announcement related to mobile technologies released every week. According to a survey conducted by the National Retail Federation (NRF), “Nearly three-quarters of retailers are exploring mobile strategies; however, 62 percent of retailers have either not yet begun or are only in the early stages of planning their mobile strategy.” Thus, the driving force for NRF to develop a “Mobile Retailing Blueprint” designed to help retailers answer the following questions:

  • How can mobile retailing improve my business?
  • What technologies and standards apply in the mobile field?
  • What implementation options should be considered?
  • What capabilities do mobile phones currently offer?
  • What types of mobile applications help consumers shop?
  • What are the choices for mobile payment?
  • What types of mobile applications help associates be more efficient?

I haven’t had a chance to read through the whole 176-page document, which you can download for free here, but based on the table of contents and the list of contributors and participants, it appears to provide a lot of valuable information.

(Reminder: We are conducting our own survey on “Mobile Technology in Supply Chain.” If you haven’t taken this brief survey yet, please click here to take it).

On the global trade front, President Obama announced the “President’s Export Council” this week, a group of twenty business and labor leaders who will provide the administration with advice and expertise on how best to promote exports. The Council is being co-chaired by Boeing Chief Executive James McNerney and Xerox CEO Ursula Burns. Executive leaders from Pfizer, Ford, and UPS are among the other members.

The creation of this council is aligned with the goal Obama presented in his State of the Union address at the start of the year: “Over the next five years, we will double our exports of goods and services around the world -– an increase that will boost economic growth and support millions of American jobs in a manner that is deficit-friendly.” It also follows other actions the administration has taken this year, such as the National Export Initiative announced back in February 2010 (for related commentary, see “The National Export Initiative: A Catalyst for GTM Software Sales”).

Does this mean the Obama administration will now support free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama? What about ending the NAFTA dispute with Mexico? Much of the commentary in the press this week has focused on these questions (see “Mexican Truck Dispute Hints at Trade Battle” from today’s Wall Street Journal). It remains to be seen if the administration will “walk the talk” when it comes to trade. Forming a council is nice, but for many business leaders, it’s the actions taken (or not) in the weeks ahead that will matter the most.

Finally, the United States Postal Service (USPS) is raising rates. No surprise here. As we’ve highlighted in the past, the USPS is in dire financial straits and the outlook for the future is not promising. Rather than painting the picture myself, just listen to John Potter, the USPS Postmaster General in this video.

Have a great weekend!