This Week in Logistics News (January 28 – February 1, 2013)

Wow, 2013 is already one-twelfth over. With no time to waste, let’s go straight to the news…

Manhattan Associates reported record fourth quarter total revenue of $95.4 million (up 14 percent from Q4 2011). License revenue, however, declined 13 percent in Q4 2012 compared to Q4 2011. For the year, the company reported a record $376.2 million in total revenue, up 14 percent from 2011, with license revenue also up 13 percent. Manhattan expects total revenues to grow between 9% and 10% in 2013. Some additional info from the earnings call:

  • New customers accounted for about 35% of the company’s full year license revenue.
  • About 65% of the company’s license fees were tied to WMS in 2012.
  • The retail, consumer goods and logistics service provider verticals made up more than half of the company’s license revenue for both Q4 and the full year.

Like other supply chain and logistics software vendors, Manhattan sees a bright future in retail. In his prepared comments, Manhattan CEO Eddie Capel said:

We’re in the crucible of a retail revolution, really the first one in 25 years or so. The way in which consumers engage with retailers has changed. They, the consumers, have tremendous access to information on hand via smartphones and tablets. And they can get it anytime that they want.

 

And the cost for their loyalty is the retailers’ ability to offer flexible shopping choices and timely service. And for retailers to do this, they need a wealth of capabilities that few previously had. They include not only a single view of the customer but the ability to leverage the biggest asset retailers have over fewer e-commerce players, inventory and associates and hundreds of stores nationwide. The push retailers are making to integrate stores into their fulfillment network use the web more than ever and bring these experiences to customers on their mobile devices, plays well with both our heritage and our future.

 

This is obviously quite exciting for us and for them, too, of course. Now the combination of our Distributed Order Management solution, with our recently announced store at commerce activation offering, serves as a one-two punch for making network-wide inventory available for orders and executing those orders efficiently.

Steve Banker touched on some of these trends in his posting this week. What’s missing, or not as clear to me, is Manhattan’s strategy around network connectivity, a topic I recently discussed on The Rise of Supply Chain Operating Networks, and part of the “Cloud” evolution taking place in the industry. While warehouse management, for the most part, remains a “inside the four walls” process, many other supply chain and logistics processes depend on the exchange of data and information with many external trading partners. As companies begin to rethink their approach to connectivity, I believe Manhattan Associates and its peers in the software industry need to better articulate their role and strategy in this area.

Earlier this week, I wrote that the clock is ticking on Hours of Service. Well, it turns out that the American Trucking Associations (ATA) is looking to extend the deadline for compliance. ATA President and CEO Bill Graves wrote a letter last week to Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administrator Anne S. Ferro asking for a three-month delay following a pending federal court decision on the regulation. If the request is approved, the deadline for compliance would get pushed out to October 1, 2013. Stay tuned.

Speaking of retail, J.C. Penney is reversing course and bringing promotions back. According to a Wall Street Journal article:

The retailer broke with the rest of the midtier department store pack at the beginning of the year when it said it would lower prices across the board—advertised as “fair and square”—rather than resort to daily discounts of artificially marked-up prices. But Penney is learning a hard lesson: Customers like markdowns.

Steve Banker at ARC commented: “Of course, supply chain folks hate promotions. It leads to demand surges that can whipsaw the supply chain. But here again, sales and marketing strategies should often trump what is good for the supply chain organization.”

Finally, the Wall Street Journal published an interesting article on what is arguably the biggest obstacle facing the broad adoption of driverless cars: lawyers and lawsuits. Here is an excerpt:

Arizona lawmakers last year were debating a law laying out guidelines for an up-and-coming technology: self-driving vehicles. Then they got to a question they couldn’t steer around: Who is to blame if a driverless car gets in a wreck?

 

When there is no driver, the answer turns complicated, and the possible targets of lawsuits expand. Is it the company that designed the technology? The car’s owner, or a passenger who should have assumed control? The auto maker that built the car?

And that’s a wrap. Have a great weekend!

Song of the Week: “Ready to Go” by Republica

(Note: Manhattan Associates is a Logistics Viewpoints sponsor)