This Week in Logistics News (October 23 – 29)

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logistics newsWho doesn’t remember their first phone? For my parents, it was a rotary phone at a stand-alone point in the hallway. For my wife, it was a see-through 80’s phone that gave her the freedom to talk to her friends every night. For me, it was a clunky cellphone that would cause me to butt-dial the most random people. But for a lot of kids, it may have been Fisher-Price’s Chatter Telephone, which debuted sixty years ago. And now, the old phone is ready to take on a new life. According to Best Buy, the limited-edition model is available for $60 and works through a Bluetooth connection from users’ cell phones. This means you can make and receive real calls through your existing phone plan. Apparently the past has arrived. And now on to this week’s logistics news.

logistics newsAs the holiday season approaches there are many concerns about the global supply chain. This includes trucking capacity concerns, port congestion, and warehouse staff.  Amazon is doing its best to reassure shoppers and shippers that it is prepared. In a blog post, Amazon said a combination of planes, trucks, ships, and delivery vans, along with staffed-up warehouses, has put it in a good position to “get customers what they want, when they want it, wherever they are this holiday season.” The company said it has invested more in inventory planning and partnerships with suppliers so it has enough goods on hand while making sure it can route items to where they’re urgently needed. Additionally, Amazon has doubled its shipping container processing capacity by increasing ports of entry and partnered with more ocean freight carriers to secure space in “critical ports.”

Amazon is clearly not the only company making plans for the upcoming holiday season. Walmart is rolling out some new delivery options for its customers. The company is extending store delivery hours nationwide by two hours until 10:00 pm local time, which allows customers to place orders up until 6:00 pm local time for same-day or next-day delivery. Customers also have additional time to change orders once they’ve been placed. Walmart is adding more delivery windows for customers through service providers that drive on Walmart’s delivery platform, Spark Driver, who now have the option to shop and deliver select orders. The company is also increasing the number of items available for delivery from local stores, including oversized items such as artificial Christmas trees and alcohol, which will now be available for pickup from 3,000 stores and delivery from 1,500 locations.

Target is also making it easier for online customers this holiday season. Earlier this week, Target unveiled enhancements to its Drive-Up curbside pickup, Order Pickup in-store pickup, and Shipt same-day delivery services to give customers more flexibility in holiday shopping. Target said it has added more than 18,000 assigned spaces for curbside pickup this holiday season and added a new “shopping partner” feature that lets customers send another person, such as a friend or family member, to pick up a Drive Up or Order Pickup order. In addition, customers will be able to add more items to already-placed Drive-Up or Order Pickup orders via the Target app as well as designate backup products for food and beverage pickup orders. Shipt same-day delivery, meanwhile, will be available for a wider range of products across Target’s assortment, including apparel and accessories, Ulta Beauty items, electronics, toys, and now adult beverages.

Last week I highlighted that many toy manufacturers were looking to maximize holiday profits by selling more “squishy” toys. Hasbro has announced this week that its toys will be ready for the holiday season despite the ongoing supply chain crisis. The company has brushed off global supply chain concerns and reported solid sales and earnings for the third quarter, thanks in large part to strong demand for its Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering role-playing games. Rich Stoddart, interim CEO following the death of longtime chairman and CEO Brian Goldner from cancer last week, said the company was able to “post solid growth despite ‘global supply chain challenges in the quarter,’ and the company is ready to meet consumer and retailer demand for its toys during the holidays.”

Seven months after launching its stand-alone e-commerce unit, Saks Fifth Avenue said it has started shipping online orders from a high-tech Pennsylvania warehouse, deploying dozens of autonomous robots programmed to help workers. With its new team of robots and the advanced facility, both operated by GXO Logistics, Saks is aiming to keep up with surging online sales. The move to the new high-tech facility is part of a broader plan to boost the retailer’s use of advanced digital technology to support an aggressive growth strategy. The robots being used by Saks, known as cobots because they collaborate with human workers, stand roughly 4 feet tall and move about the warehouse on wheels. The robots are equipped with large computer screens, which are used to display images of items that workers need to gather for an order. By tapping software trained on the store’s catalog of products, the robots can rapidly cross-reference incoming orders with a map of product locations in the warehouse and quickly guide workers to the items. From there, workers pick up the items and route them to the appropriate delivery bay, he said.

Grocery delivery has been growing like cray around the world as the ongoing Covid pandemic continues. In Europe, Uber is taking on a saturated market by partnering with French supermarket chain Carrefour to ship essential items to shoppers’ doors in as little as 15 minutes. The new service launched this week and is named Carrefour Sprint. Rather than sending couriers to Carrefour stores, Uber is relying on a network of so-called dark stores (small warehouses where pickers and packers prepare orders for delivery) operated by French start-up Cajoo. Carrefour partnered with Cajoo earlier this year to help it offer its own rapid delivery service. The retail group is also a minority shareholder in Cajoo. Uber said its new partnership with Carrefour will let users order from almost 2,000 daily essentials including fruit and vegetables, dry goods and cleaning supplies. The items are stocked by Cajoo at nine of its dark stores in the French capital.

last mile routingUPS just posted its best year ever, and 2021 isn’t even over yet. Considering the surge in e-commerce, and the company’s plans to increase rates, 2022 could be even better. During the first 9 months of 2021, “UPS has generated more operating profit than any full year in our history,” UPS CEO Carol Tomé said on a post-earnings call with investors and analysts Tuesday. The company’s operating profit rose to $2.9 billion in the third quarter, up 22.6 percent from last year. In 2021, UPS has earned $8.9 billion in operating income, up 58 percent from the same period of 2020. Typically, the fourth quarter, which includes the holiday shopping and shipping season, is the busiest and most lucrative for UPS.

In recent months, several 15-minute or less grocery delivery services have launched in American cities. To execute on the concept, these companies use centrally located ghost shops in densely populated areas. The execution relies on streamlined logistics, which is a combination of centrally located cloud stores and software. And now, Gopuff has officially launched in New York City, giving Big Apple residents the ability to have thousands of products delivered to their doors in 30 minutes or under. ounded in 2013 in its hometown of Philadelphia, the company now serves customers in more than 1,000 cities and operates 500-plus micro-fulfillment centers and retail locations across the United States and Europe. In New York, Gopuff operates more than a dozen locations in the boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn, The Bronx and Queens, with plans to expand to Staten Island and double its locations in the city by the end of 2021.

That’s all for this week. Enjoy the weekend and the song of the week, Tommy Tutone’s 867-5309.

The post This Week in Logistics News (October 23 – 29) appeared first on Logistics Viewpoints.

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