This Week in Logistics News (September 30 – October 4, 2013)

Is it ironic that the U.S. government partially shut down on Tuesday, the same day I was scheduled to give a talk on collaboration? I’m thinking of sending my representatives in Congress a copy of the book Getting to We, written by my friends Kate Vitasek and Jeanette Nyden — and also inviting them and all members of Congress to participate in my upcoming conversation with Kate and Jeanette on Talking Logistics. You never know, it might help.

While the stalemate continues in Washington, things keep moving forward in the world of supply chain and logistics.

There were lots of omni-channel and e-fulfillment stories in the news this week. Manhattan Associates announced the latest release of its Omni-Channel Customer Service software that enables a retailer’s customer service representatives (CSRs) to “see customer transactions across all selling channels, allowing them to swiftly search using any piece of customer or order information, service inquiries across all touch points and convert the sale with products from any channel.”

Meanwhile, USA Today published an article highlighting how Walmart, Best Buy, and other “brick-and-mortar” retailers are moving quickly to enable ship-from-store capabilities. Here are a few excerpts that caught my attention:

“Some people talk about Amazon with their 100 distribution centers, God bless them. We have 2,600 distribution centers,” said Gap Chief Executive Glenn Murphy, referring to the apparel retailer’s network of Banana Republic, Gap and Old Navy stores.


Shipping online orders from Best Buy stores could generate an extra $5.8 billion in sales and $168 million in profit next year for the company, according to [estimates by Gary Balter, an analyst at Credit Suisse].


Already, 10% of the items ordered on are shipped from stores and the majority of those packages are delivered in two days or less, according to the company.

And you wonder why so many software vendors are hot and heavy over omni-channel retailing? For some added perspective on this topic, check out my conversation with Eric Morley and Will O’Brien, former supply chain executives at leading retail companies, where they share their insights and advice on the supply chain and logistics challenges associated with omni-channel fulfillment and what it will take for retailers to succeed in this new environment.

But if you ask me, here’s the press release I’m really dying to see: “Company X Launches Mobile Omni-Channel Social Networking Solution in the Cloud.” It would be the supply chain software equivalent of Taco Bell’s Chulapa Supreme.

Moving on, there was plenty of news from the 3PL front this week. C.H. Robinson announced that it has enhanced its anti-cargo theft strategy “by joining CargoNet® to provide customers with a proactive approach to strengthening security around sensitive and high value product freight.” According to the press release:

CargoNet is centered on a national database and information-sharing system managed by crime analysts and subject matter experts. By providing coordinated incident communications, recovery support, and deterrence measures, CargoNet helps its members prevent cargo theft and improve chances of recovery. CargoNet members benefit from an extensive law enforcement network of more than 120,000 officers and agents spanning more than 9,000 agencies in the United States and Canada.

Earlier this year I wondered if we were reaching the tipping point in natural gas trucking, and this week Ryder provided another data point by announcing that its fleet of 320 natural gas vehicles have surpassed 15 million miles. “We believe natural gas is the most viable alternative fuel solution for commercial trucking because it is clean, efficient, cheap, and abundant,” said Ryder Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Robert Sanchez in the press release.

Energy is playing a more strategic role in supply chain management, and natural gas is a big part of the story. If you plan to attend the CSCMP Annual Global Conference later this month, make sure you attend the Mega Session I am moderating Wednesday morning, October 23, on Mega Trends Impacting the Supply Chain where energy will be one of the discussion topics.

Finally, an interesting article in CNNMoney about a Citi analyst based in Taiwan named Kevin Cheng who was allegedly “pressured into giving up what he knew [about Apple’s supply chain] by aggressive traders who had got wind of a rumor and wanted his take on it before the news reached the market.” There are many takeaways from this article, but here’s my main one: The financial community is finally recognizing what we’ve known all along — that a company’s supply chain strategy and performance are weaved tightly with its business plan and financial results.

And with that, have a happy weekend!

Song of the Week: “The Royal We” by Silversun Pickups

Note: C.H. Robinson and Ryder are Talking Logistics sponsors.