This Week in Logistics News (April 22-26, 2013)

With no time to waste this morning, let’s go straight to the news that caught my attention this week.

Manhattan Associates reported total revenues of $96.6 million in Q1 2013, a 6 percent increase from Q1 2012 and a new quarterly record. Services revenue grew 6 percent in the quarter compared to the same period last year, while license revenue declined almost 9 percent, despite closing three deals of $1.0 million or more in recognized license revenue. About 65 percent of total revenues came from WMS deals, and about half of the non-WMS revenues came from Order Lifecycle Management and Store Commerce Activation. “While it remains somewhat difficult to predict the effect of the sluggish global economy, we are well positioned for a solid year in 2013 and beyond,” commented Manhattan Associates President and CEO Eddie Capel in the press release. Manhattan is still projecting total revenues to grow between 9 and 10 percent this year.

UPS also reported Q1 2013 results this week. Diluted earnings per share were $1.08 in the quarter, compared to $1.00 for Q1 2012. According to the press release, “The quarter benefited from a stronger than expected post-holiday season in January as UPS e-commerce solutions resonated with customers. In the U.S. Domestic segment, daily package volume grew 4.4% and operating profit improved 9%.” UPS also reaffirmed its full-year 2013 guidance for adjusted diluted earnings per share; an increase of 6-to-12% over 2012 adjusted results.

Here’s what I see as the common thread between the results reported by Manhattan Associates and UPS: the heavy influence of retail and B2C supply chains, especially e-commerce and omni-channel fulfilment.

On the technology front, JDA Software announced the release of its latest version of JDA Transportation & Logistics Management, “the company’s most significant transportation management system (TMS) release to-date.” The press release includes some details about the new release, but the quote below by Fabrizio Brasca, vice president, global logistics at JDA Software, sums it up nicely:

“The new JDA Transportation & Logistics Management is game-changing for our customers in several key areas. We’ve re-engineered the way end-users interact with our solution [emphasis mine] allowing them to leverage greater amounts of actionable data quickly and intuitively to make better decisions. From a capabilities standpoint, JDA has broken down silos across intercontinental and local transportation patterns, allowing customers to drive the most value out of their available assets, increase agility and ensure the optimal balance between customer service and cost in complex, global supply chains.”

The bolded comments in the quote underscore the point I made earlier this week about how supply chain software vendors are starting to compete on design — i.e., they are investing more to improve their UIs and user experience.

Along the same lines, Infor announced the general availability of Infor 10x, “an enterprise release that marks a major step forward in achieving the company’s vision.” Here are some excerpts from the press release:

All major applications feature a reinvented HTML5 user experience, the new Infor Ming.le collaboration platform, and pervasive in-context analytics embedded throughout workflows that are packaged within the Infor ION integration framework. The release combines innovation with a consumer-inspired user-experience [emphasis mine] to make business software flexible, agile and easier to use.


“Infor 10x marks the evolution of Infor’s technology platform, which features purpose-built middleware, as well as social, mobile, analytics, and cloud solutions,” said Duncan Angove, president of Infor. “Moreover, Infor 10x represents a major step toward achieving our vision, to integrate Infor’s mature, proven, and industry-driven applications with modern, innovative technologies to make them beautiful, collaborative, mobile, fast, smart, and seamless.”

We’ve written a lot about how retailers (both online and brick-and-mortar) are testing same-day delivery services. But we’ve also questioned whether consumers even want same-day delivery, or if they prefer, instead, to have greater choice in selecting delivery times and locations. An interesting new service announced by FedEx this week called FedEx Delivery Manager “allows package recipients to customize home deliveries to fit their schedule.” Check out the short video below for an overview.

It’s interesting to note that FedEx is viewing this service as a revenue generator — i.e., in many cases, consumers will have to pay a fee to select the delivery time or change the delivery address. And if FedEx is really smart, it will offer consumers incentives (e.g., not charge a fee) to choose specific delivery times and locations that will result in the most cost-efficient routes for the company based on other deliveries it has to make that day. Several of Descartes’ customers, for example, are using its Reservations application to enable this type of capability.

Finally, if you’re dependent on UPS for your shipments, you can breathe a sigh of relief this morning. According to an announcement made last night, UPS and the Teamsters have reached a tentative agreement on two, new five-year contracts in the small package and freight business units. The tentative contracts still have to be ratified by UPS Teamster-represented employees, but it looks like the risk of a strike in July is going away.

Have a happy weekend!

Song of the Week: “Here’s Where the Story Ends” by The Sundays

Note: Descartes, JDA Software, Manhattan Associates, and SAP are Logistics Viewpoints sponsors.