This Week in Logistics News (May 11 – 17)

Logistics NewsIt’s been a busy few weeks around these parts as the conference season winds down. Over the last few weeks I, along with my colleagues Steve Banker and Clint Reiser, have made the rounds on the conference scene. Our trips included HighJump Elevate, Oracle Modern Business Experience, Descartes Evolution, Promat, BluJay Soar, MercuryGate Velocity, Transplace Shipper Symposium, and JDA ICON. Plus, Steve and Clint will be at Manhattan Momentum next week. While I always miss my family when I travel, the good news is that I get to meet with key clients, speak to their customers, learn from my peers, and watch some good movies on my flights. This time around I watched A Star is Born with Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. Two things surprised and impressed me with this movie. First, Lady Gaga was fantastic as an actress. I knew the singing would be a walk in the park for her, but she nailed it as the leading actress as well. The second part, which is the complete opposite, was Bradley Cooper’s ability to sing and play the guitar. I know he put in the work and it certainly showed on screen. And just to prove it was really him, he has joined Lady Gaga on-stage multiple times to perform Shallow. Well done to both of them. And now on to this week’s logistics news.

Amazon has been looking for ways to expand its delivery infrastructure and lessen its reliance on FedEx and UPS. Last year, the company announced its Delivery Service Partner program, which created a network of independent delivery fleets. The initial start-up cost was estimated at around $10,000 to cover overhead and the lease of a delivery vehicle. Amazon is now expanding this program and encouraging employees to start their own delivery company. Amazon is promising to cover some of their startup costs, including “up to” $10,000 plus the equivalent of three months of an employee’s most recent salary.” Amazon also confirmed that it’s expanding the program to include its employees in the UK and Spain, where it will also cover their startup costs.

In other news, Amazon is also debuting a new delivery option for customers, and in an unusual move, the company is launching it outside of the US. The new service is dubbed Counter and will allow customers to retrieve packages from staffed UK and Italian retailers. In the UK, Amazon will partner with Next Plc to operate the counters at the apparel chain’s more than 500 outlets across Britain. In Italy, Amazon has formed similar partnerships with bookstore operator Giunti and other stores. The new service has a dedicated app enabling customers to order items from Amazon and select their pick-up location. The company said it chose Europe for the launch because of customer demand for convenient click-and-collect locations and the high penetration of online retailing.

In response to Amazon’s efforts to increase same-day and next-day delivery, Walmart is launching a new subscription-free service for next-day delivery in select markets. Earlier this week, Walmart announced it is adding “NextDay” delivery to customers in Phoenix and Las Vegas, with plans to expand to Southern California in the coming days. Walmart plans to continue to roll out the service over the course of the year, with a goal to reach approximately 75 percent of the US population by the end of the year. The free NextDay delivery is available on eligible orders over $35 and up to 220,000 frequently-purchased items including diapers, laundry detergent, electronics and toys. The orders will be fulfilled from one of six fulfillment centers that is closest to the customer rather than from stores, as stores will continue to fulfill orders for same-day pick-up or delivery.

E2Open and Amber Road have announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement for the acquisition of Amber Road. E2Open provides a networked supply chain solution enabling customers to plan, collaborate, and execute their end-to-end operations. Amber Road provides a GTM platform enabling customers to digitize their supply chain across a broad solution set including sourcing, global logistics, transportation, and trade compliance. According to Amber Road CEO James Preuninger, “the combination of E2Open’s supply chain and logistics technologies with Amber Road’s global trade management platform will also allow customers to more fully digitize their operations and better compete in global markets.” The agreement is still subject to customary closing conditions and will be an all-cash purchase price of approximately $425 million.

Global logistics company DB Schenker has completed the world’s first field test using truck platoons in real logistics operations in Germany. The pilot program was a joint effort by DB Schenker, MAN Truck & Bus, and Fresenius University of Applied Sciences was part of a research project sponsored by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure. The program used professional drivers to drive two electronically linked vehicles on the Autobahn 9 between the Nuremberg and Munich branches of DB Schenker over the course of seven months, covering more than 35,000 kilometers. According to DB Schenker, “operating electronically linked trucks on German motorways is safe, technically reliable, and easily applicable in the routine of a logistics company.” It will be interesting to see how this technology continues to expand.

The truck driver shortage is not going away, and with more drivers retiring every year (without younger drivers to take their place), the problem is only getting worse. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has not yet proposed a pre-rule (let alone a rule to lower the age for interstate truck drivers), but the agency announced this week that it’s seeking public comment on a “potential” pilot program that would allow drivers ages 18 to 20 to operate commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce. Last year, the agency said it would initiate a pilot program to allow 18-20-year-olds with military experience to operate CMVs on interstate highways. This latest action could increase the availability to those without military service. One thing is clear – something needs to be done to attract more drivers.

Kering SA, the French owner of Gucci and Saint Laurent, says it wants to improve suppliers’ treatment of animals used for products like leather handbags and cashmere suits. The luxury company will apply European Union standards for animal welfare (considered to be among the world’s most rigorous) as a global baseline by 2025. For suppliers that already meet the requirements, which include unfettered access to clean water and room to move freely, the company said it wants to encourage further improvements like allowing free grazing for cattle or making sure ostriches have enough space to run.

That’s all for this week. Enjoy the weekend and the song of the week, Black Eyes from A Star is Born.

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