This Week in Logistics News (August 4-8, 2014)

At the top of my family tree, the one planted here after my parents arrived from Cuba, you’ll find a small bodega nestled in the branches. For more than two decades, my dad and uncles labored from sunrise to sunset, six days a week, in that neighborhood store, and their hard work and sacrifices opened the door to opportunity for me and my sister and cousins. The bodega is where my life story begins, a story I hope to write about someday.

The bodega and building as it appears today (source: Google Maps)
The bodega and building as it appears today (source: Google Maps)

Yesterday, my mom and uncles sold the property, bringing an end to an era. My father passed away six years ago, so he wasn’t there to celebrate this milestone with his brothers, which saddens me beyond words. But if he was watching from above, I’m sure he was smiling in his quiet way, and maybe holding back the urge to cry, as I am today.

In this week’s news…

HighJump Software announced enhancements to its Retail Inventory and Point of Sale Management software, RETAILvantage. According to the press release, this latest software release adds over 50 enhancements and new features, including “enhanced reporting functionality, further e-commerce integration with leaders and MicroD, and new capabilities such as the ability to send e-receipts and capture digital customer signatures at the point of sale.”

While many supply chain software vendors are developing more sophisticated store-level solutions for retailers, they’re sometimes bumping up against an ugly reality in the industry: computers at the store level that haven’t been upgraded in more than a decade, so their operating systems, browsers, processing power, and Internet connection can’t support these applications. Yes, many stores are still stuck in 2001 when it comes to their IT capabilities, and they’ll need more than a flux capacitor to get back to the future.

Earlier this week, I wrote a post focused on socially-responsible supply chains, and I mentioned the efforts companies are making to discover, report, and eliminate conflict minerals. Coincidently, Resilinc announced this week a new version of its Resilinc Conflict Minerals Module, which features “a supplier network-based approach enabling suppliers to publish CFSI [Conflict-Free Sourcing Initiative] templates once and share them with many customers.” The solution also offers “automated outbound template generation capability for customers at the product, product family, customer’s customer or corporation level…[that] simplifies their efforts in reporting to stakeholders.”

As I noted in my post, gaining timely, accurate, and complete visibility to labor, safety, environmental, and legal practices across your entire supply chain is no easy task — especially if you’re dealing with thousands of suppliers around the globe. But this is an example of where network-based solutions can facilitate the effort by enabling a more efficient and scalable way for all the stakeholders to communicate and collaborate.

On the 3PL front, another example of technology and managed services coming together, this time via a partnership. Fidelitone Logistics and ARI Network Services have partnered “to offer manufacturers and distributors end-to-end eCommerce technology and supply chain management, lowering the barrier for entry into B2C eCommerce sales for enterprises traditionally focused on a B2B distribution model.” Here’s how ARI President and CEO, Roy W. Olivier, sums up the value proposition:

“Our combined capabilities will help our customers who are set up for B2B distribution to quickly move to a B2C model without extensive changes to their infrastructure. Through our combined capabilities, we can quickly provide a turnkey B2C solution that will compete with any current online retailers.”

I expect more partnerships between 3PLs and technology companies in the years ahead, and perhaps some acquisitions too, as new growth opportunities (such as e-commerce and omni-channel fulfillment) and growing demand from customers for broader supply chain solutions (such as demand planning, risk management, and multi-echelon inventory optimization) force 3PLs to fill the gaps in their technology capabilities.

And with that, time to head to the beach. Talking Logistics is taking its summer vacation next week, so I’ll be charging my batteries under the sun, with my laptop and iPhone off. If you need a fix, check out our past episodes and posts, as well as our sponsor channels to access some of their great content too.

Song of the Week: “Don’t Dream It’s Over” by Crowded House