Black Friday and Cyber Monday are in the books. And by all accounts, Americans spent a lot of money. Call it the Amazon effect if you want, but more and more consumers are flocking to the Web for holiday deals than in stores. And traditional retailers are pushing their online inventory to keep up with customer demand. According to a survey released by the National Retail Federation (NRF), an estimated 108.5 million Americans shopped online over the long weekend compared to about 99.1 million who went in to stores. This is a dramatic shift in the overall e-commerce / brick and mortar omni-channel environment. Last year, the numbers were about the same for online shoppers and in store shoppers. But this year, online shoppers dwarfed their in store counterparts. However, even with the influx of online shoppers, overall spending fell About 3.5% per shopper this year. This could be due to better deals, or the fact that holiday deals are no longer a Thanksgiving weekend only phenomenon. Even with the slight dip, the NRF is still forecasting a 3.6% increase in overall holiday spending.
And now, on to the news.
- Maersk to buy German shipping line Hamburg Sud
- Transplace acquires Canadian 3PL Lakeside Logistics
- IBM and Mahindra Group testing blockchain technology
- Amazon trailers set for UK roads
- DHL Express launches on-demand delivery
- Otto prepares to haul second load
A.P. Moller-Maersk, the Danish transportation and logistics giant, has agreed to buy German rival container shipping line Hamburg Süd. The move represents a larger shift towards consolidation in the container shipping industry, not to mention the supply chain industry as a whole. The announcement follows news from Maersk back in September that it would focus on transport and logistics and spin off its energy operations. Südis is the world’s seventh largest container shipping line and operates 130 container vessels primarily in trade between the northern and southern hemispheres. The acquisition will help Maersk establish a bigger presence in global trade, with new inroads to the Latin American market. Maersk said it expected to give more details following approval of the purchase agreement which is expected early in the second quarter of 2017.
Speaking of acquisitions, transportation management services provider Transplace has acquired Lakeside Logistics Inc., a Canadian-based logistics services company. The move is largely an opportunity for Transplace to grow its North American customer base and presence. Transplace, which is owned by Greenbrier Equity Group LLC, provides transportation management services, intermodal, brokerage and software-as-a-service (SaaS)-based TMS solutions, as well as supply chain strategy consulting services. Lakeside Logistics is primarily a transportation management services company, which will augment that portion of Transplace’s business.
IBM is working with Indian business conglomerate Mahindra Group to develop blockchain-based supply chain application. IBM is already using blockchain technology with Walmart to improve food safety. Blockchain is the technology powering Bitcoin. The new partnership is built around building a tool to track supply chain transactions. Mahindra has operations in industries ranging from aerospace to automotive, as well as agriculture, finance, and technology. Various banks in the country have been testing blockchain for use in cross-border payments and transaction settlement, so this partnership is just another piece of the puzzle for tracking transactions. It will certainly be an interesting area to watch.
Amazon is rolling out trailers in the UK. The online retail giant has bought 40 double decker trailers to be used by its line haul partners in the UK. The trailers will distribute items between the company’s fulfillment centers and delivery stations across the country. Each of the trailers will be Amazon Prime branded. This is not Amazon’s first venture into private branded trailers. In fact, the company currently utilizes trailers with dozens of line haul partners across Europe, many of which deliver merchandise to a number of countries. Amazon has also used Prime branded trucks and trailers in the US in its larger strategy to take more control over its delivery and final mile operations.
DHL Express has launched an on-demand delivery service. The move is in response to their growth in cross-border e-commerce. With the on-demand service, shippers can choose to activate specific delivery options and have DHL Express notify their customers via email or SMS about a shipment’s progress. The customers can then select the delivery option that best suits their requirements via the On Demand Delivery website. Essentially, the program gives the end consumer greater control over delivery options for cross-border shipments. Customers can now schedule a delivery to their house, an alternate address (such as work), or a nearby DHL service point, as well as request that a shipment be put on hold if they are not going to be around to receive it. DHL Express plans to roll out the On Demand Delivery to more than 100 countries through 2016 and 2017.
And finally, Otto, the autonomous truck start-up acquired by Uber, is at it again. You probably remember that just a few weeks ago, Otto completed the first commercial use of autonomous trucks by delivering nearly 1900 cases of Budweiser from Fort Collins, Colo. to Colorado Springs. Well, the company is scheduled to make another autonomous delivery next week. Unlike the beer run from last month, which took place in the pre-dawn hours to avoid traffic, this delivery will take place on a 35-mile stretch of Route 33 in Ohio during daylight hours with traffic on the road. Like last time, a driver will be in the truck monitoring the system’s performance.
That’s all for this week. For me, it never feels like the holiday season until I hear a specific song. So enjoy the weekend, and my kick-off to the holidays, Christmas Eve / Sarajevo by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.