The logistics and retail industries are under a lot of pressure. Every day 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. This week, we take a look at:
- The “perfect storm” happening in warehousing
- Amazon’s announcement of one-day shipping
- The supply chain workforce shortage
Let’s talk logistics
Weather the warehousing storm
Record-low industrial vacancy rates, the threat of tariffs, more complicated warehouse operations (blame eCommerce), and increasing customer expectations (blame Amazon). The convergence of these factors has created “the perfect storm” in warehousing—forcing businesses to try and figure out how to deal with it all without trashing their margins.
Customers expect cheaper and faster delivery, but that’s really expensive for businesses to provide. While much of the focus has targeted transportation to improve the last mile, there are a lot of opportunities to optimize your warehousing and fulfillment networks. Though chaotic now, many businesses are turning to technology to weather the storm. Innovative new solutions like pop-up warehousing, WMS integrations, collaborative robotics, and more have emerged to disrupt, and hopefully solve, some of the challenges facing the industry today.
Article via Supply Chain Management Review
Wanted: Supply chain professionals
It’s no secret that there’s a big need for supply chain professionals—from leadership roles to warehousing associates, it’s a tight labor market. The cause? The supply chain is going digital and the increase in automation and technology is creating a demand for highly skilled supply chain professionals. This has led to a significant talent gap that has been plaguing companies for the past four years.
Unfortunately, just about every industry wants tech talent these days. A report by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute revealed that the “gap between demand and supply could result in 2.2 million jobs going unfilled in the manufacturing sector alone.” There are several ways to attract talent. One is to encourage skill-sharing and “reverse mentoring” across departments as a way for younger employees to share their digital know-how with the more senior members of their organizations. Another, more-direct solution, is creating competitive wages across all levels. Amazon, Walmart, Costco, and more have recently unveiled strategies to boost minimum wages up to $15/hour.
Article via Supply Chain Dive
Is Reddit the new Instagram?
Some retailers are starting to think so. While it’s not the easiest place for brands to make an impact, those who have found a way to engage are finding success, particularly as Instagram and Facebook become oversaturated. The key is participating without shamelessly promoting yourself. Rhone, a men’s activewear brand, has a strategy of “only showing up when the brand is mentioned organically by users, and stick[ing] to answering questions and responding to feedback rather than trying to sell the product.” Other ways brands can use the platform are via paid advertising or partnering with Reddit influencers. But as more brands hop on the bandwagon, will it become just as crowded as the rest of the channels?
Article via Glossy
Humans are out, chatbots are in
You might still be struggling to get Siri to understand you, but that’s not stopping retailers from investing in AI and chatbot technology. According to a recent study, chatbots are forecasted to drive $112 billion in retail sales by 2023. That’s quite a jump from the $7.3 billion they generated this year. Chatbots save money by automating sales generation and handling customer-service functions like issues and returns, but consumers aren’t quite sold yet. Only 40% expressed interest in using them, and more than one-third said “the technology needs to improve.” If the tech can get there, you know what to do: Alexa, invest all my money in chatbots.
Article via Retail Dive
If you can’t beat ‘em, buy ‘em
It’s the same old story. Unilever bought Dollar Shave Club, Walmart has been acquiring startups right and left, and now Schick parent company Edgewell Personal Care Company has purchased Harry’s for $1.37 billion. Legacy retailers aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel. The most impactful growth strategy is to acquire the brands that their target demographics already love and that have pre-existing customer loyalty. Matt Sargent, SVP of retail at consulting firm Magid, points out that "traditional brands—because of their scale and the way they've set themselves up—[have] been insulated from the consumer” but this model can’t last. Retailers either need to develop these relationships on their own, or find alternate routes like acquisitions, in order to get them.
Article via Retail Dive
What’s Amazon up to?
Raising the bar. The announcement that Amazon Prime is moving to one-day shipping as their standard delivery promise comes as no shock, but it has put an immense amount of pressure on… everyone else. How are businesses that don’t have $800 million to invest in their logistics supposed to compete?
Well, according to Fortune, it might already be becoming the standard. Target currently offers free one-day shipping to its loyalty card holders and Walmart hinted that they might not be far behind, tweeting “One-day free shipping…without a membership fee. Now THAT would be groundbreaking. Stay tuned.”
For big-box retailers with larger retail and distribution networks, increasing their delivery speed is far easier than it is for eCommerce or smaller brands who don’t have a large retail footprint to tap into. Most retail stores are already located near their customers, making them ideal for order fulfillment. Senior Director of Communications at Target, Joe Poulos, reports that “75% of the population lives within 10 miles of a Target.” Retailers and brands without those resources will have to find alternative solutions to solve for this new delivery expectation. Here are 27 other retailers that offer free, two-day shipping that are positioned to cut that time in half.
Article via Fortune
FLEXE news & events
Give me a “B!”
We’re thrilled to share that we raised $43 million in Series B funding! Our CEO and Co-Founder, Karl Siebrecht, talks business momentum and what’s next for FLEXE on the blog. Bloomberg and Geekwire also shared stories about our fundraising and the increased importance of on-demand warehousing in the wake of Amazon’s one-day delivery news.
Logistically speaking, can your network touch its toes?
The secret weapon to optimizing your delivery promise (in the wake of all this news)? Flexibility. Use our Flexibility Calculator to see how your logistics network measures up. Find out what it’ll take to improve operations and accelerate growth.
FLEXE will be making our way through the supply chain event circuit over the next month. Here’s what’s coming up:
- Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference: May 13-16, Phoenix, AZ