It’s finally summer. Which means a mixed bag of good and bad. The good? Less traffic heading in to the office, warm weather, no snow, summer vacations, longer days, and the disappearance of the winter blues. The bad? Mosquitoes, humidity, another disappointing Red Sox season, and cargo theft (see below). One of my favorite parts of the summer is the 4th of July. The fireworks, the bbq’s, and this year, the long weekend. With the 4th falling on a Saturday, next Friday, July 3, will be a company holiday for most US employees. As a result, will not be publishing a news round-up next Friday. So, even though it’s a week in advance, Happy 4th from the Friday news round-up team.
And now, on to this week’s news.
- Amazon adds direct-shipped items to Prime listings
- Instacart reclassifies part of workforce
- UPS Capital acquires Parcel Pro
- DOT mandate for roll-over avoidance systems publishes
- Same-day shopping app Curbside picks up $25 million in funding
- Truckers, beware: July 4th week ripe for cargo theft
Amazon is rolling out a new program which could dramatically increase the number of items that qualify for free two-day shipping for Prime members. The company is now listing items which can be shipped directly from merchant’s warehouses direct to the customer. Previously, these items had to be shipped to an Amazon warehouse to be eligible for Prime. This meant that merchants would be less likely to expedite shipping on cheaper items, making them unavailable for Prime delivery. The addition of drop-shipments could dramatically increase the number of items that are Prime eligible, well beyond the 20 million items currently listed.
As Clint Reiser mentioned last week, news broke about the California Labor Commission ruling on an Uber driver being classified as an employee, rather than a contractor. As a result, Instacart, the online grocery delivery service, is converting a large part of its contractor workforce into part-time employees. Instacart says it will make the change starting June 22 for staff members in Boston and Chicago, with more cities coming later. The newly converted employees will work between 20 and 30 hours a week, and make above minimum wage (although the exact amount will vary by market).
UPS Capital, a branch of UPS which specializes in financing and insurance, is announcing the acquisition of parcel Pro. Parcel Pro was formed to insure shipments in the jewelry and wristwatch industry. As the demand for luxury items has increased, businesses have been forced to rethink their shipping strategies. Formerly, business shipping insurance has been limited to $50,000 in the US and $500 internationally. This meant companies had to break up shipments for insurance purposes, significantly raising their shipping and packaging costs. The newly combined UPS Capital and Parcel Pro can increase business shipping insurance coverage to $150,000 in the US and $100,000 internationally. This allows companies to reduce the number of shipments made for the same amount of merchandise. The price and closing date have not been disclosed, and it remain business as usual for the time being.
The DOT mandate for rollover avoidance systems has published, making the rule a law. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published a Final Rule in the Federal Register Tuesday that will require all trucks made Aug. 1, 2017, and after to be equipped will electronic stability control systems to prevent vehicle rollovers. The mandate is aimed at truck manufacturers, not truck buyers and owners, and applies to “typical three-axle tractors.” The mandate only requires stability control systems and not broader active safety systems that brake autonomously. The NHTSA says the rule will prevent between 1,424 and 1,759 crashes a year and prevent between 40 and 49 deaths a year.
Curbside, a Palo Alto-based company offering a mobile app that allows customers to execute curbside pick-up of orders, announced the closing of $25 million in Series B funding. The round was led by Sutter Hill Ventures, and includes participation from prior investors Index Ventures, Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang’s AME Cloud Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures and others. The funds will be used to help Curbside expand to new markets and stores. Currently, the service is available at select Target and Best Buy locations the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as in the New York metro region. The service is geared towards customers who want items same day without paying excessive fees. Curbside works at 25 locations today, but with these forthcoming additions and other planned expansions, that number is expected to reach 40 by the end of July.
And finally, the 4th of July holiday is fast approaching. And Cargo Net has issued a warning to truckers: Beware! July 4th week is ripe for cargo theft. In its warning to drivers and carriers, Cargo Net cited potential for increased activity by cargo thieves this week and next, with the July 1-7 week accounting for 76 cargo theft incidents and nearly $11 million in loss value in the last three years. The top targeted commodities over the last three years include food and beverage, electronics, and metal. The top states include California, Florida, Texas, Georgia, and Illinois.
That’s it for the news this week. Enjoy the weekend and the song of the week, The Star Spangled Banner, by Jimi Hendrix.