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FLEXE Hub: The forecasting blues

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

The logistics and retail industries are under a lot of pressure. Every day is a different news cycle and we’re inundated with updates. Sometimes it can be difficult to cut through all the noise.

Because there’s a lot going on, we curated a few of the articles we’ve been reading lately, including news on logistics innovation, startups, retail trends, and buying behaviors.

Let’s talk logistics

We still haven’t figured out forecasting

A new study revealed that 73% of corporate retail professionals report that “inaccurate forecasting [is] ‘a constant issue’ for their store” and 87% report that it’s a “larger factor in revenue loss than theft.” So, what’s the key to improving these, admittedly depressing, stats? Data. Retail dive reports that while forecasting will never be 100% accurate, data collection improvements have helped other kinds of forecasts improve their accuracy (Think: weather reporting).

Story via Retail Dive

Warehouse availability improves, kind of

Businesses who need warehouse space got some (slightly) positive news this week. CBRE reported that US industrial real estate dropped less than a hundredth of a percentage point, meaning it’s stabilized for the first time in years. It still stands at a record low 7% and according to CBRE’s global chief economist, Richard Barkham, “it’s a tight market where people will find it quite difficult to lease space. The plateauing is a very small crumb of comfort.”

Story via WSJ

Retail, reinvented

IoT is a BFD

From smart stores to supply chains, internet of things (IoT) is revolutionizing retail in a big way. Apparently, by 2025 the IoT-enabled retail market could be worth a staggering $94 billion and retailers like Walmart are fully getting onboard. Walmart CEO, Doug McMillon, believes that the growth of IoT will be good for both retailers and customers, but “both sides of the equation—demand and supply—will change dramatically.”

Story via Built in

Microsoft vs Shopify

Shopify may soon have some new competition. A Microsoft representative recently made comments that they’re looking into expanding into the retail eCommerce space. Microsoft Vice President of Retail and Consumer Goods, Shelley Bransten, remarked, “it’s something we’re looking at very seriously because our customers are asking us for it.” What remains to be seen is whether Microsoft will launch its own competing brand, or bypass that altogether and just try to acquire Shopify.

Story via Diginomica

What’s Amazon up to?

Getting cozy with Kohl’s. It was recently announced that as of July, Kohl’s will begin accepting Amazon returns at ALL of its stores. What may seem like an unlikely pairing, actually isn’t. In fact, it’s been happening for quite some time. The partnership was first announced and piloted in 2017, and benefits both parties. For Kohl's, facilitating a simple returns process will increase foot traffic and potentially boost some of its own sales. For Amazon, it removes a substantial eCommerce pain point, at least for its suburbanite customers who have a Kohl's nearby.

According to Director of Supply Chain Solutions for Kenco Group, Chris Hess, the reason for this move, at least on Amazon’s end, likely came from their customers. “Amazon does lots of data analytics before they jump into anything. The ideas, a lot of them, come from their customer service. They listen to the [phone] lines and do data analytics on what customers are saying.”

But the real question is, what comes next? The Motley Fool’s Daniel B. Kline makes the case that an acquisition might be in the works. The eCommerce goliath has shown it’s not afraid to make the jump into physical retail stores with its Whole Foods acquisition, Amazon Go stores, and bookstores. And it could be a way to showcase its growing private label brands.

Stories via NPR, Marketplace, and The Motley Fool

FLEXE news & events

We’re growing!

We’re so excited to share that we’ve added two new members to our leadership team, former Senior Vice President and General Counsel at Zulily, Deirdre Runnette joins us as our Chief People Officer and Amazon logistics veteran, David Glick, comes on as Chief Technical Officer.

Meet the team

Meet another member of the FLEXE team! Get to know our Senior Content Marketing Manager, Morgan Hass, in our latest #meetFLEXE profile. #meetFLEXE is an ongoing series profiling the individuals that make up the FLEXE team. You can find the rest of them here.

FLEXE for the win

On the heels of our Geekwire Next Tech Titan nomination, FLEXE co-founder and CEO Karl was named a finalist for the Pacific Northwest Entrepreneur of the Year award! Stay tuned, the winners will be announced June 14th.

On-demand warehousing: Ever heard of it?

We explain what on-demand warehousing is, why it’s needed, and how it’s helping retailers and brands. Give it a read on the FLEXE blog.

Upcoming events

FLEXE will be making our way through the supply chain event circuit over the next month. Here’s what’s coming up: