This Week in Logistics News (September 16 – 22)

Monday, September 18, marked the 47th anniversary of the death of Jimi Hendrix. While his short-lived career lasted only four years, he is universally recognized as the greatest guitarist in rock n’ roll history. He released three studio albums and one live album, but since his death, more than 10 posthumous albums have been released, including a number of live albums. The live event is where Hendrix shined; he wasn’t just a singer/songwriter/guitarist. He was a presence on stage. From playing his guitar with his teeth to lighting it on fire in a sacrificial manner, he had audiences captivated from the minute he burst on the scene. It is interesting to think about where he would be now if he were still alive. But alas, he left the world at 27, but cemented his legacy as a rock n’ roll legend and icon.

And now, on to the news.

The driver turnover rate at large fleets jumped 16 percentage points in the second quarter, pushing it to 90 percent, according to American Trucking Association’s quarterly report. The turnover rate at small fleets increased by 18.5 percentage points to 85 percent. The increasing turnover rate could make things very problematic for the industry. This is due to the fact that there is an increase in demand for freight movement. As turnover and demand increase, the already troublesome driver shortage becomes more drastic, and the impact is felt more. Things look better on the LTL front, however, as the turnover rate only increased by 2 percentage points to 14 percent.

Walmart has unveiled a pilot program that will allow customers on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to order groceries online and pick-up at five stores in the US, including one in Houston and four in the Boise area. The EBT cards cannot be used online, and Walmart will verify benefits and accept payment at the store. After the order is placed and the customer arrives, a Walmart team member will bring a tablet out to the car, verify the SNAP information, collect payment, and deliver the items. Considering that Walmart is the largest organic grocer in the country, this move will help to bring healthier foods to a greater number of people. The company is planning on rolling out the program to more stores through the holiday season.

Amazon is taking “same day delivery” to a new level in London. The company is looking to use a “see now, buy now” approach as part of the Nicopanda fashion show. The partnership between Amazon and Nicopanda covers a six-piece unisex street wear collection including a hoodie, a long sleeve tee, a bomber jacket, an oversized scarf, a clutch bag, and leggings. The one-hour delivery option will be available only to Amazon Prime members in London, and will come at a cost. Other retailers and designers, such as Burberry, Topshop and Tommy Hilfiger are experimenting with similar programs at this year’s Fashion Week.

Kohl’s is also partnering with Amazon to open some in-store Amazon shops across the US. The big news about this partnership, though, is the fact that some Kohl’s stores in Los Angeles and Chicago will begin accepting Amazon returns starting next month. Kohl’s said it will pack and ship eligible Amazon return items for free at the 82 stores offering the service. There will be designated parking spots near the Kohl’s store entrances for those doing Amazon returns. While the program will allow customers to skip lines at the Post Office to mail back returns, for Kohl’s, it will get customers in the store. The hope is that once they have returned the Amazon item, they will shop around at Kohl’s, potentially looking for a replacement for what they have just returned. It is certainly an innovative approach to driving customer traffic.

DoorDash, an on-demand restaurant delivery service, has announced plans to acquire Rickshaw, a start-up that enables same-day delivery by connecting businesses to courier services. DoorDash has been building a similar platform called Drive, which allows customers to use DoorDash’s network to make deliveries beyond DoorDash’s consumer website and app. While the financial terms of the acquisition have not been announced, three members of Rickshaw’s management will be joining DoorDash. Since Rickshaw will be shutting down, this is an opportunity for DoorDash to migrate these customers over to their new platform.

And finally, US potatoes made for potato chips are being exported to Japan for the first time in 11 years. As I mentioned in April, there was a major chipping potato shortage in Japan, which resulted in customer desperation, including a report of 20 bags of the popular pizza-flavored chip “Pizza Potato” were being sold online for 120,000 yen ($1,100). While the US has a 98 percent share of the Japanese potato market, Japan halted imports of chipping potatoes from Idaho after detection of pale cyst nematode (PCN) in the southeastern part of the state in 2006. Beginning with the 2018 season, Idaho will again be among the U.S. states eligible to ship chipping potatoes to Japan.


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That’s all for this week. Enjoy the weekend, and the song of the week, Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix.