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FLEXE Hub: The delivery battle wages on

A roundup of the latest news on logistics, retail, and industry trends

It’s been another big week. Keeping up with the latest store closures, emerging tech, and what Amazon is doing could easily be a full-time job. Luckily for you, it’s ours.

This week we take a look at:

  1. Metrics that matter most in the warehouse
  2. How to actually innovate when innovation has become the norm
  3. The battle for the best delivery promise (thanks, Amazon)

Let’s talk logistics

The numbers are in

When it comes to logistics, metrics matter, but the industry still has a long way to go. The 16th installment of DC Velocity’s annual warehouse and DC metrics report revealed that 14.4% of respondents still rely on Excel and data files to manage warehouse operations. Additionally, 71.9% of respondents don’t have plans for robotics in the coming year either.

It’s clear that the supply chain is ripe for disruption and innovation. Despite all the hype on robotics, most providers and businesses still need actual humans to do the work, and far too many are still relying on antiquated systems like Excel and homegrown software to manage operations.

Via DC Velocity

The Absolut right place and time

While the logistics industry is still struggling with spreadsheets, companies like Absolut are implementing machine-learning technologies to inform their supply chain operations and distribution planning. As the second-largest vodka distributor in the world, Absolut saw an opportunity to mitigate costs and complexities with a little technology.

The goal was to bring down Absolut’s inventories. More importantly, the “bigger goal was to ensure that the right products were delivered to the right places to keep supply-chain costs in check even as the growing complexity of consumer markets made its production more complicated.”

Peter Neiderud, director of manufacturing and supply chain at the Absolut Co., said, “We wanted to make sure we could deliver as promised even though we would cut inventory by 20%.” And goes onto state, now “we have the same delivery performance as before with lower inventory.”

Via Wall Street Journal

Help wanted

“Warehousing and storage companies added 5,400 jobs last month, according to preliminary figures the Labor Department reported Friday, the fourth straight month of growth in a sector that includes fulfillment centers that process and ship online orders. The sector added nearly 70,000 jobs over the past 12 months.”

… Enough said?

Via Wall Street Journal

Retail, reinvented

The enterprise revival

Lately, “innovation” has become a buzzword synonymous with “survival.” We’ve seen an unprecedented amount of store closures and bankruptcies in the last ten years, making it something of a requirement for retailers who hope to stick around.

One of our favorite insights this week is from Chain Store Age on companies that are “actually doing something” about industry disruption. While we wish we would’ve thought of that title ourselves, the entire article is great. In particular, the last sentence sums it up: “The common thread [for innovative retailers] is the ability to set up and run experiments—and not always expensive experiments—in order to help the organization respond to disruption, rather than just watching it happen.”

Innovation isn’t about heroic measures. It’s about being willing to think like a startup, move fast, and (potentially) fail.

Via Chain Store Age

What’s Amazon up to?

A lot, still.

Amazon continues to make waves with its Prime One-Day announcement from last month. But competitors are fighting back, and one has actually revealed a plan to take on the eCommerce giant; Walmart has officially announced that it will offer free, next-day delivery for shopping carts valued at more than $35, and it will be available to “75% of the U.S. population by the end of the year.” Meanwhile, The Verge reports that Amazon’s Prime one-day shipping is already beginning to be rolled out, it’s just happening slowly.

Amazon is showing its cards a bit this week, taking drastic measures to make its one-day shipping promise possible. Amazon is incentivizing current employees to quit their jobs and start their own delivery businesses by offering them $10,000 and 3 months salary to do so. In addition, it's also offering its third-party sellers 75% off storage fees if they store their best-sellers with them so they can offer more items through their Prime one-day service.

Via Fast Company, The Verge, WSJ, and Business Insider

FLEXE news & events

Prep for the unexpected

Our CEO and co-founder, Karl Siebrecht, talks supply chain disruptions and how retailers and brands can prepare for them in a new article for TotalRetail. Check it out here.

#meetFLEXE: Dave Galgon

“Logistics is pretty crazy when you think about all the things that have to go exactly right to get products to store shelves, let alone your front door.” New on our #meetFLEXE medium channel, we get to know Dave Galgon, FLEXE VP of Network Development.

Old news

In case you missed them, check out our last few FLEXE Hub’s: Throwing down the gauntlet, Who’s ready for one-day delivery?, and The forecasting blues.