Over the course of the last few years, I have written about autonomous trucks and the future of self-driving vehicles (see here and here for examples). These vehicles could be one of the solutions to the ongoing driver shortage, but are still years away from being a reality. Earlier this week, my friend and neighbor Steve Brykman, Senior Mobile Strategist at Propelics, offered an interesting take in his blog about the unsung heroes of self-driving cars (blog available here). In his blog, he highlighted the “top five original unsung heroes of autonomous vehicles.” These five heroes included “Trolley” from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood (and now of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood), the Busy Busy World Apple Car (apparently the very first Apple Car), the Care Bears Cloud Mobile, Speed Buggy, and Herbie the Love Bug. From my perspective, since I write about supply chain management and logistics, the only omission I can come up with involves the trucking industry and the Simpsons. In one specific episode, Homer and Bart Simpson are lounging on the hood of their big rig while the “Navitron Autodrive” system does all the work. It’s interesting and exciting to think that autonomous vehicles may soon be the norm.
And now, on to the news.
- Amazon makes waves in grocery
- The breaking apart of Hanjin is about to begin
- Shyp goes nationwide
- UK prices primed to soar
- Hours, size/weight regulations suspensions now in effect in six states
- October imports spike
- U.S. meat exports surge in August
Amazon is shaking things up in the grocery space. The company has announced that it is changing its pricing structure for Amazon Fresh for Prime members. The online retailer is bringing the subscription for unlimited service down from $299 per year to $14.99 per month. Prime members can now shop for groceries and other goods from local stores and restaurants by selecting the “Fresh Add-on” as part of their membership. Members who sign up can order by 10 a.m. for same-day delivery by 6 p.m., or can order by 10 p.m. for delivery by 6 a.m. the following morning. Delivery time slots include one-hour deliveries from an actual person or three-hour deliveries left in temperature-controlled bags at the door. This move comes at a time when Amazon is looking to launch physical grocery stores. The stores will be small, stocked only with fresh items such as produce, milk, and meats, and only Amazon Fresh subscribers will initially be able to shop at them.
The South Korean bankruptcy court in charge of the Hanjin case said it plans to dispose of the firm’s sales and marketing network for its Asia-U.S. route. This move is an effort to raise money and help the debt-riddled company. A judge at the Seoul Central District Court has said that the court will put up a sales notice as early as today. Additionally, Hanjin subsidiaries involved in handling Asia-U.S. cargo as well as some container ships would be sold. Since Hanjin filed for bankruptcy in Korea, dozens of its ships have been denied access to ports around the world due to uncertainty about who would pay docking fees and container-storage and unloading bills. Those ships were carrying half a million containers with cargo valued at more than $14 billion.
In an article I co-wrote with colleagues Steve Banker and Clint Reiser, we identified Shyp as one of a handful of young tech companies poised to transform supply chain management. Shyp is a packaging and shipping company that uses contract workers to pick-up, pack, and ship orders. A customer takes a picture of the item they are shipping through the Shyp app, and this starts the process. A Shyp courier arrives to ship the package through the lowest-cost option. The company will also package a customer’s order before bringing it to their warehouse to send to the final destination. The company charges $5 for pick-up, packaging pricing is based on size and fragility, and shipping uses the lowest rates available. Currently the company has couriers and warehouses in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco. However, one aspect of Shyp is now available country-wide: you can see all the service offerings from Fedex, UPS, and the USPS and choose the cheapest one that will deliver your package on time. You then pay for shipping and print a label using Shyp’s mobile app or web interface. I imagine it will only be a short period of time before the company’s full offering is available nationwide.
The retail industry has issued a stark warning that prices for consumer goods will rise incredibly if the UK fails to negotiate a trade deal with the EU. Since Brexit, the feeling has been that import duties will make food and clothing more expensive if government doesn’t negotiate a deal with Europe. Since Brexit passed, the value of the pound has sharply declined, driving up prices of international goods. Reports are already surfacing that because of Brexit, Marmite supplies are running low and consumers are trying to stock up. The British Retail Consortium warns that without a trade deal, the average duty on meat imports could be as high as 27%, while clothing and footwear would attract tariffs of 11-16% versus the current zero-rating for all EU imports. Things could get very expensive.
In the wake of Hurricane Matthew’s landfall and destruction, Virginia and Kentucky have joined Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, and North Carolina in temporarily suspending certain trucking regulations. While some of the regulations suspensions are set to expire this week, the emergency declaration suspends registration, hours-of-service, and size and weight regulations for trucks providing emergency services for the state. This is another example of common sense overriding regulations for the benefit of humanity.
October is going to a busy month for retailers. And I’m not talking about Halloween (but more to come on that in another article). October is expected to be the second-busiest month of the year for the nation’s major retail container ports as merchants stock up for the holiday shopping season, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates. While November and December are the busiest time for holiday shopping, October is the time when all the goods people are buying come in through the ports. October import volume is estimated to be up 6% from last year, as the NRF is expecting a 3.6% increase in holiday shopping this year.
And finally, U.S. beef export volumes in August, which were the highest since October 2014, rose 26.9% from August 2015 thanks to increased beef exports to Hong Kong, Korea, Japan and Mexico. The country also saw increased exports of pork and lamb, compared to last year. Beef exports refer to beef and beef variety meat; pork exports refer to pork and pork variety meat; and lamb exports refer to lamb, mutton and lamb variety meat. Japan was the leading market for U.S. beef exports in terms of volumes and value in August, with beef exports to the nation totaling 25,307 metric tons valued at $147.9 million. Meanwhile, the U.S. exported 186,689 metric tons of pork valued at $512.8 million in August, thanks to significant increases in pork exports to Korea, Japan, China/Hong Kong and Mexico.
That’s all for this week. Enjoy the weekend and the song of the week, Cars by Gary Numan.