This Week in Logistics News (July 18 – 24)

uber_ice_creamUber is at it again. With the crowdsourced livery service growing, and facing scrutiny and regulatory issues, the company is branching out again. Much like last year, Uber is offering ice cream day today, July 24th. While hours and prices vary by country, state, or city, the gist is that instead of ordering a ride, you can order ice cream to your door. The promotion is taking place in 252 cities across 57 countries on 6 continents. If you don’t like ice cream, and you live in Singapore or Malaysia, you can purchase Xiaomi’s new Mi Note smartphone, and have an Uber driver deliver it to your house instead. It will be interesting to see what Uber does next…

And now, on to the news.

It was a busy week for Descartes Systems Group, as the company announced two acquisitions. The first announcement came on Monday when it announced the acquisition of MK Data Services LLC. MK Data US-based provider of denied party screening trade data and solutions. In addition to doing denied party screening, the solution has intelligent search functionality.  This means that even if you spell the name of a company slightly wrong, or abbreviate, it will still flag the partner as someone that perhaps you should not do business with.  Denied party screening can do transaction by transaction, or you can do a batch download and clean up your CRM.

Descartes then announced the acquisition of BearWare, Inc. This company is a US-based provider of mobile solutions to improve collaboration between retailers and their logistics service providers. The system scans cartons at each point from the DC to the store. This gives complete granularity into merchandise throughout the entire supply chain. For retailers, this means they have more flexibility over replenishment frequencies, making them more agile. For carriers, routes can be more efficient as they have more data for store replenishments. This acquisition will fit with Descartes’ route planning technology.

leatherThe US leather industry has taken a beating as a result of the West Coast port delays. U.S. hide prices are down over 40% as Chinese tanners and others look elsewhere. Leather makers blame gridlock at West Coast ports, which delayed getting their products to market. Hides packed in cargo containers sat waiting stateside for weeks in February and March as the West Coast dockworkers union negotiated a contract with their employers. The industry was dealt another blow when cargo started moving again in the spring, and U.S. hides flooded the market, driving down prices. This shows the results of the port slowdown is still rippling through multiple industries.

pickupSeattle-based start-up, Fleetzen, is offering to solve a major problem of many shoppers. The company is offering a crowd-sourced service to connect consumers with drivers who own a large SUV or pick-up truck. Founded by former Microsoft employees Nirdesh Mittal and Surendra Shetty, the company insists that people who shop at Costco, Ikea or Home Depot are more likely to make an oversized purchase if they can get it home the same day. The startup plans to expand from Seattle to other West Coast cities over the next year, with a service that promises arrival times within an hour. The cost will be about $50 for loads that take about 30 minutes to deliver.

Macys deliveryMacy’s is expanding same-day delivery to several new US markets. Currently, the company offers same day delivery in eight markets. Macy’s utilizes a partnership with Deliv, a crowd-sourced fleet of drivers that pick-up online orders from stores and deliver them to the customer. The driver behind the move is to keep up with Amazon, and their same-day delivery service which currently operates in 14 markets. Macy’s sees one distinct advantage it has over Amazon – 886 stores to source items from against 50 fulfillment centers.

walmart storeWal-Mart is making changes to approximately 40 of its 24-hour super centers in Philadelphia, New Jersey, and Maryland. Traditionally, these stores have been open day and night. Now, however, the stores will close for at least a few hours every night to allow store associates to re-stock shelves and organize stores in time for peak shopping hours. This move allows the company to get a better idea of actual on-hand inventory as well, which will aid in its omni-channel initiatives. By organizing the store, and re-stocking shelves, online inventory availability will better match actual physical inventory in the store, making for a better customer experience.

And finally, the availability of truckload freight on the spot market remained in a lull during the week ending July 18, reports DAT Solutions. The average rate for vans dropped 2 cents to $1.85 per mile last week as van load availability fell 15%. The van load-to-truck ratio slid to 1.7 loads per truck, meaning there were 1.7 available van loads for every truck posted on the DAT network—a 16% decline. Average spot van rates were down in key markets across much of the country.

That’s it for the news this week. Enjoy the weekend and today’s song of the week, Young Man Blues by The Who.

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