This Week in Logistics News (February 24-28, 2014)

I have a plane to catch this morning, so let’s go straight to the news…

It’s been almost a year since 3Gtms merged with Transite and set out to “build a third-generation TMS to satisfy the needs of the small and middle markets that do not need the extreme complexity of features found in today’s TMS systems, but require a more user-friendly, streamlined TMS that is highly flexible and delivers a faster time to value.” This week the company announced the inaugural release of 3GTM, the company’s flagship transportation management software (TMS). Flagship Logistics Group, Rising Sun Systems and Corporate Traffic are among the first customers. According to the press release:

Built on a single platform, the software seamlessly manages the full transportation lifecycle including: rating, routing (including multi-stop and pool distribution optimization), tendering, tracking, tracing and settlement in a single system. Companies can license the full suite for maximum value or individual modules to augment existing systems.

As I’ve written about many times before, there are plenty of shippers out there, both large and small, that still manage their transportation operations with spreadsheets and fax machines. The early success of 3Gtms shows that there is still plenty of opportunity available for TMS vendors that can provide shippers with a cost effective solution that is easy to learn, easy to use, easy to deploy, and easy to update (see 5 Reasons Why Excel is Champ of Supply Chain Apps).

Earlier this week, I wrote about the IT capabilities of 3PLs and how there’s a perception in the market that 3PLs are not innovative when it comes to technology. The reality, however, is that a cross-section of service providers, both large and small, view technology as a strategic asset and competitive differentiator. Ryder offers another example this week. The company launched launched the Ryder Fleet Management Portal, “an online tool designed to help customers simplify fleet management activities to improve visibility, compliance, and decision making.” Here’s what Dennis Cooke, President of Global Fleet Management Solutions, said in the press release:

“With this portal, customers gain quick access to data that can help them make smarter decisions based on their fleets’ unique performance and needs. Customers want to see odometer entries for their vehicles. They want an online view of their fleets’ dashboards and reports. They want to track breakdown information by vehicle and location. With Ryder’s Fleet Management Portal, they can do it all, easily and quickly.”

Last October I commented on a story that had appeared in the Wall Street Journal about an interesting partnership between Amazon and P&G (see Amazon Inside P&G Warehouses: A Case of “What’s In It for We”). In short, as the WSJ reported at the time, Amazon had set up operations inside at least seven P&G warehouses worldwide where “each day, P&G loads products [such as paper towels and diapers] onto pallets and passes them over to Amazon inside a small, fenced-off area. Amazon employees then package, label, and ship the items directly to the people who ordered them [online].”

Well, this week the Wall Street Journal published a follow-up story on how Amazon’s bitter rival Target responded:

Several months ago, the discount chain started to give some P&G products less-prominent placement in stores, including less space on “endcaps”—the coveted shelves at the ends of store aisles where featured items are highly visible to shoppers and tend to sell quickly—people in the industry said.

 

Target also stripped some big P&G brands of their “category captain” status, meaning the retailer chose to seek advice from other providers on how to boost sales in their product areas, two people familiar with the matter said.

 

In addition, Target encouraged some suppliers that compete with P&G to work together on promotions, like offering discounts on combined purchases of their products, another person said.

Instead of reaching out to P&G to develop a unique win-win partnership of their own, Target chose to retaliate and take the “zero-sum game” path. In fact, as the article points out, “P&G had offered the same capability to other large retailers, including Target, but several turned it down because e-commerce was only a minuscule part of their sales and there was little benefit for them to be on-site with P&G at the time, people familiar with the matter said.”

The most effective way to respond to innovation is with more innovation, not retaliation.

Finally, President Barack Obama announced this week a four-year, $302 billion plan to repair the country’s roads and bridges. The ongoing debate, however, is how to pay for surface transportation projects. Simply put, our current system of funding transportation infrastructure projects is broken and nobody can agree on a solution. See my LinkedIn Influencer post from earlier this month — Enough Talk: Time to Fix Transportation Infrastructure Funding — for my thoughts on this topic.

And with that, I’m off to the airport. Have a happy weekend!

Song of the Week: “On Top of the World” by Imagine Dragons

Note: Ryder is a Talking Logistics sponsor.

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