This Week in Logistics News (April 14 – 20)

logistics newsApril 17 was Tax Day in the United States. And it appears that many Americans (myself included) were giant procrastinators this year. While I didn’t wait until the very last minute to file, many millions of Americans did. And when they did, they discovered they were in a nightmare scenario – they couldn’t file their taxes because the IRS systems were down. Luckily, these taxpayers got a reprieve and were able to file once the systems were back up. The IRS reported that by 9am on April 18, more than 14 million tax submissions had been processed. That means that at least 14 million people waited until April 17 to file their taxes. Let’s hope those 14 million+ people didn’t make any mistakes that need fixing. And now on to this week’s logistics news.

Target has announced a new program that should delight consumers living in urban areas – home delivery. However, this is not your typical home delivery service of e-commerce orders. Instead, the company will offer home delivery for items purchased in a store. For consumers that may need to walk, take a cab, or take the subway home, carrying items from a store like Target can be difficult. The service is currently available in four New York City stores, and will be available at 60 locations throughout Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington, DC, and New York by the end of the month. When customers check out, they can select a two-hour delivery timeframe for their items, and standard delivery will be $7. The service is available for any product, but a $25 charge may be added to large items such as furniture. This move is a smart one for Target, as it enables customers to combine the feeling of in-store and online shopping, and could certainly help to reduce the number of returns.

Domino’s Pizza has shown itself to be pretty proactive when it comes to experimenting with new delivery models, including delivery robots, drones, and autonomous vehicles. This time around, the pizza chain is not exploring new technologies; instead, the company is looking at ways to delivery pizza to convenient locations for a customer when they are not at home or in the office. Domino’s announced the launch of more than 150,000 “Domino’s Hotspots,” which are locations that don’t have a traditional delivery address. These hotspots include places such as beach parking lots, parks, baseball fields, and notable city landmarks. While it has been possible to convince a driver to meet customers in specific locations before, this required negotiations over the phone. Now, customers can search for hotspots online or through Domino’s mobile app, and place the order digitally. You can check for local hotspots here.

Climate change and its long-term ramifications have made a lot of companies more aware of their carbon footprint. The global shipping industry, however, has not been united in looking at ways to reduce carbon emissions and greenhouse gases historically, but that has all changed. The United Nations International Maritime Organization approved a long-delayed strategy to cut emissions from ships, with the end goal of eliminating CO2 emissions altogether by 2100. The global shipping industry is responsible for producing 2.2 percent of the world’s CO2 emissions. The shipping industry is kicking off the plan by examining and revising design requirements in order to make new ships more energy efficient, which will include concrete goals for each ship type to achieve in terms of reducing emissions.

Blockchain technology has been a hot topic lately, especially as companies begin to move away from proof of concept and into pilot programs. Samsung, the world’s largest maker of smartphones and semiconductors, is the latest company to jump on the blockchain bandwagon. Samsung reported that it is considering using a blockchain ledger system track of global shipments worth tens of billion of dollars a year. According to the blockchain chief at Samsung SDS Co., the technology could cut shipping costs by as much as 20 percent. Samsung SDS expects to handle as much as 488,000 tons of air cargo and 1 million 20-foot-equivalent (TEU) shipping units this year. The company indicated that the blockchain system could help the company reduce the time lag between product launches and actual shipments.

China is seeking to establish a free trade zone in Hainan by 2020 and a free trade port by 2025. The goal is to open up the province’s economy to foreign investors, and the country is actively encouraging multi-national companies to set up global and regional headquarters in the beach lined province. The hope is for the free trade system to be “mature” by the year 2035. The country is also aiming to promote greater environmental conservation by phasing out the sale of traditional fueled vehicles, and may even allow sports lottery games and horse-racing to drive tourism.

And finally, diesel fuel prices jumped more than 6 percent across the country, pushing prices to their highest points since early 2015. The US’ average price for a gallon of on-highway diesel now stands at $3.104. The most significant increases being seen in the West Coast less California region, which saw a 10-cent jump, and California, which saw a 7-cent jump. After the increases, California continues to have the most expensive fuel at $3.787 per gallon, followed by the West Coast less California region at $3.326 per gallon; the cheapest fuel can be found in the Gulf Coast region at $2.91 per gallon, followed by the Lower Atlantic region at $2.998 per gallon.

That’s all for this week. Enjoy the weekend and the song of the week, Taxman by the Beatles.