This Week in Logistics News (May 13-17, 2013)

“We’re toast,” said one of my son’s baseball teammates from the bench last night, as their team quickly fell behind 8-0 against the best team in the league. From my beach chair on the sidelines, I thought the same thing. Then came the bottom of the fifth inning, when my son hit a 2-run home run with two outs, followed by more hits and more runs, and when the dust settled in the infield, the game was tied. An inning later, they won the game 9-8 with a walk-off hit.

We hear it all the time: don’t give up, stay confident, work through it. But sometimes “we’re toast” is what keeps echoing in our minds, which is why experiencing come-from-behind victories are so important, and why they never get old.

In other news…

In the music world, it seems like every artist is partnering up with Pitbull these days to help propel their song to the top of the charts. In the enterprise software world, Netsuite is becoming the Pitbull of the industry, with various supply chain and logistics software vendors forming partnerships with the company to help expand their presence in the small and midsize business (SMB) market.

Last May, for example, LeanLogistics announced that it had partnered with NetSuite to build the LeanTMS™ SuiteApp on the NetSuite SuiteCloud computing platform. This week, both Descartes and HighJump Software announced agreements with NetSuite. You can read the press releases for more details, but here’s what Guido Haarmans, Vice President of Business Development, Technology Partners at NetSuite had to say about each partnership:

“The market for cloud-based business management solutions continues to grow. There is an increasing need to extend these applications beyond the enterprise to improve supply chain and logistics execution. Descartes’ GLN, route planning and transportation management solutions and deep domain expertise can help our retail, distribution and manufacturing customers in managing their global and local inbound logistics and delivery operations.”


“HighJump Software is a longstanding leader in the supply chain solutions market, and an experienced provider of cloud-based services to its customers. We are pleased that NetSuite customers should have the opportunity to further improve their efficiency and customer service by adding proven, integrated supply chain management functionality to their cloud-based NetSuite business management solution.”

These partnerships underscore an important point I’ve made in the past: the real value of cloud computing, particularly for supply chain and logistics applications, is not about having servers and apps reside outside your four walls and paying for them on a subscription basis — it’s about joining a community of connected companies (a network, an ecosystem) where you can communicate, collaborate, and execute business processes with trading partners in more efficient, scalable, and innovative ways. And for solution providers like Descartes, HighJump Software, and LeanLogistics, the cloud is a sales channel, and by linking their networks with NetSuite’s, they have the opportunity to reach segments of the market that are too costly or time-consuming to pursue via other channels.

UPS announced the release of the UPS App for iPad that “enables customers to track packages and find locations where they can send shipments…and allows users of UPS My Choice to access all of the features of the service including the ability to reroute or reschedule delivery.” What I found most interesting, however, was this statistic quoted in the press release: “According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, as of January 2013, 31 percent of American adults own a tablet computer, up from 25 percent in August 2012 and four percent in 2010.” In my opinion, this growing adoption of tablet computers by consumers will further accelerate the “consumerizaton of IT” we’re seeing, which will further drive enterprise software vendors to design and optimize their applications for these devices in the years ahead.

On the economic front, import volume growth at the nation’s major retail container ports “could trickle to a standstill by the end of the summer,” according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates. Here is a quote from the press release:

“The weak cargo increases expected over the next few months are consistent with other signs that the economy is slowly improving but show that retailers remain cautious, especially when it comes to stocking their inventories,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “We’re looking at barely 1 percent of year-over-year growth through the early summer, and August and September are expected to be basically flat even though they’re supposed to be two of the busiest months of the years.”

In related news, Maersk downgraded its forecast for ocean shipping demand. The company now expects container demand to grow 2 to 4 percent this year, down from the 4 to 5 per cent it forecast back in February. According to a Financial Times article:

First-quarter results showed “modest improvements in the global demand for container transport, reflecting the weak economic situation especially in developed countries,” Maersk said on Friday.


It warned that capacity growth was outstripping demand after Maersk and others took delivery of new, massive ships such as the Danish group’s Triple-E container vessels, the largest in the world.


“Conditions for the container industry remain challenging and managing supply will be even more important this year,” Maersk said.

We’re toast.

Have a happy weekend!

Song of the Week: “Stubborn Love” by The Lumineers

Note: Descartes, HighJump Software, and LeanLogistics are Logistics Viewpoints sponsors.