This Week in Logistics News (July 14-20)

It’s the dog days of summer folks. And that brings about one of my favorite sporting events – the MLB All-Star Game. On Tuesday night at Washington Nationals Park, the American League beat the National League 8-6. Of course, as a Boston Red Sox fan I favor the American League so the result was pleasing. But the highlight of the event had to be the record 10 home runs in total that were hit over the 10 innings of play. Unfortunately I missed the home run derby on Monday night. Did you know that MLB included home run contests during regular season games at one point in the 1980’s? I attended a game at Fenway that featured a pre-game home run contest between Jim Rice and Dave Winfield. Those are a couple classic sluggers!

Now on to this week’s logistics news:

Proposed tariffs on imported automobiles and auto parts are the current topic at hearings being held by the US Commerce Department. A rep from the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers said that the “opposition is widespread and deep because the consequences are alarming.” The EU said that it is prepared to impose “rebalancing measures” (a diplomatic way of saying retaliation) if the Trump administration enacts the proposed import tariffs. Trump and EU President Jean-Claude Junker have a meeting scheduled next week. But to be fair, the European Union did state that its tariffs (10 percent tariff) on imported US autos are higher than US tariffs on EU autos (2-3 percent), also noting that the US has higher tariffs than the EU on other goods. Here is a link to a doc on Europa.eu that states the tariff differences (10% vs. 2.5%).

The EU and Japan signed a free trade agreement this week. The agreement lowers most tariffs between the two economic powers. And this stands in stark contrast to the tariff increased being proposed and implemented by the Trump Administration. This brings up a good point, reducing tariffs to equal levels the same way increasing tariffs can level the playing field- right? Anyway, the European Commission says that the deal will eliminate $1.2 billion of Japanese tariffs on EU goods and double that amount on EU tariffs on Japanese goods. Interestingly enough, an EU document from April states that the playing field for postal and courier services from the two economic areas will be leveled. I wonder if this will have a material effect the 3PL services market?

Pacific Software, a publicly traded company with no revenues as of yet, announced that it received a letter of intent from the Brazilian state of Rondonia to “assist, coordinate, organize and promote trade between Brazil’s commodities exporters and China’s importers.” Why is this newsworthy you ask? Well, just because the company is building a proprietary blockchain trade portal and Agri-Blockchain technology solutions for export supply chain and logistics businesses. To be honest, Blockchain is not within my bailiwick of expertise. But I plan to watch the technology to see how it evolves. For more information on Blockchain for Supply Chain, read Steve’s article “The Growing Maturity of Blockchain for Supply Chain Management.”

UPS is testing “smart lock” technology in what amounts to another step at making e-commerce and direct-to-consumer the most convenient way to shop. The test involves hundreds of multi-family buildings in New York City that have installed smart lock technology from Latch. The system will allow UPS drivers to open building doors and drop delivery packages at secure locations within the apartment buildings. The goals of the system is to reduce theft associated with leaving packages at unsecured locations such as doorsteps, and also reduce the requirement for drivers to make multiple attempts at secured delivery requiring recipients to be home to provide building access to the drivers.

FreshDirect, like UPS, is making last-mile delivery advancements in New York City. The online grocer that delivers to residences, is planning to open a 400,000 square foot facility in the Bronx. Perhaps most interesting to me is that the article stated FreshDirect plans to expand to the Boston area. That sounds good to me. Right now, Stop & Shop’s Peapod is the most well-known grocery delivery service in Boston. Bring on the competition!

Amazon Prime Day, which began on Monday, is estimated by Zentail to have grossed $3.5 billion in sales. Apparently, the Amazon website went down during the first hour of Prime Day. My first impression was that the website failure was just that, a failure. But if you think about it a little more, it makes one wonder if traffic was that high and makes the event more of a media hit. So from a marketing perspective, maybe it was a benefit. Target rode Amazon’s coattails, running its own one day sale that broke its records for online traffic and sales. Target also stated that nearly 90 percent of the day’s Target.com orders would be filled from Target stores. That is an omni-channel accomplishment for sure!

That’s all folks. Have a great weekend!