This summer in the Boston area has been an interesting one. We have seen temperatures fluctuating in a bizarre pattern that I cannot ever remember, with a few days in August only reaching a high temperature of the upper sixties. So, when the leaves started changing colors in early August and dropping off the trees, I couldn’t help but wonder if the cooler temperatures this summer were bringing an extremely early fall. It turns out that this is not the case. In fact, it is only the maple trees in town that are losing their leaves. After a little research, I found that the severe drought we had last year, combined with the very wet weather we have had this year, has led to a fungal infection in maple trees that is making the leaves drop off early. So just when I thought I would only have to mow my lawn, trim the hedges, water the garden, and continue weeding, I now have to rake leaves this summer. It just doesn’t seem quite fair.
And now, on to the news.
- Descartes acquires MacroPoint
- Transplace to be acquired by TPG Capital
- Amazon in the news:
- Aldi enters grocery delivery in partnership with Instacart
- Sainsbury’s trials 30 minute click and collect service
- Trucking industry could be affected by eclipse
Descartes continues to grow its portfolio with the acquisition of MacroPoint, an electronic transportation network providing location-based truck tracking and predictive freight capacity data content. This is a big acquisition as it gives Descartes the ability to provide real-time tracking of freight moves, which is becoming increasingly important in both the B2C and B2B world. MacroPoint runs a connected network of over 2 million trucking assets and drivers, and connects to trucks through integrations to on-board ELDs, transportation management systems, GPS-enabled smart phone applications, and location-based mobile phone triangulation. The acquisition price was $107 million, with $87 million in cash and $20 million in shares.
TPG Capital plans to acquire transportation management provider Transplace from Greenbriar Equity Group LLC. While terms of the deal will not be disclosed, it is believed that the deal is close to $1 billion. Transplace is a North American non-asset based logistics services provider, with the majority of its revenue coming from managed transportation services. The company has grown rapidly over the last seven years, especially with a string of acquisitions. With significantly more assets under management, TPG Capital will be able to invest more into future innovations. The deal is expected to close in late September.
Amazon is looking at new technology to make inroads in the grocery business. The technology, known as microwave assisted thermal sterilization (MATS), was first developed for the US military to produce prepared meals that do not need refrigeration. Amazon could be ready to sell the prepared foods as early as next year. According to the online retail giant, the meals are much easier to stockpile and ship since they do not need refrigeration. As a result, transportation costs would be lower, allowing Amazon to sell the meals as a lower price. The move would also bolster the company’s AmazonFresh delivery platform.
Amazon is also implementing a new service that will fulfill orders immediately for customers. The program, dubbed Amazon Instant Pick-Up, is being tested around five college campuses in the US. There will be pick-up locations where customers would go right after placing their order to retrieve the item. Customers would choose from a variety of fast moving items that are in stock at each location; after placing the order, an Amazon employee would pick the item and load it into a storage locker for pick-up. Within two minutes, customers would receive a bar code to access the locker.
Speaking of quick pick-ups, Sainsbury’s is trialing a 30-minute click-and-collect service. As part of the new service, customers will place their order via smartphone and then pick it up just 30 minutes later, marking the first sub-hour pick-up in the UK. The trial is taking place at Sainsbury’s Pimlico store in London, and will be done using an app called Chop Chop, which will not charge extra for click and collect. Customers are limited to 25 items to be eligible for the 30-minute pick-up window. The orders are packed and ready for pick up by customers showing their order number at the store’s Chop Chop desk. This is another example of the rapidly changing nature of grocery stores.
German grocery chain Aldi is jumping on the home delivery bandwagon. The company announced that it is partnering with Instacart to test home delivery in three US cities: Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Dallas. Currently, Aldi does not have an option for customers to shop on their website, so the Instacart partnership is the first step in testing the viability of online shopping for the company. Now that Aldi’s German rival Lidl has begun opening stores in the US, this is a time sensitive move to stay ahead of its German competition while still competing with other grocery chains that currently offer delivery service.
And finally, in case you haven’t heard, there is going to be a total solar eclipse on Monday along a stretch of land 70 miles wide in the US. The path of totality, or the stretch where there will be a total eclipse runs diagonally from Oregon to South Carolina. While this is exciting news, there is at least one industry that is not as excited as the rest of the population: the trucking industry. Traffic will be heavy as thousands of Americans flood the roads and highways to see the eclipse. This can cause significant delays for trucks in the days leading up to, during, and after the eclipse. Some states are even considering limiting truck traffic which will only make delays more severe. The best bet is to get ahead of the problem and let customers know that deliveries may be late next week.
That’s all for this week. Enjoy the weekend and the song of the week, Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground by the White Stripes.