This Week in Logistics News (April 25-29, 2016)

Lots of supply chain and logistics news to get to this week, especially on the the technology front, so let’s go straight to it.

Hot off the press this morning, Descartes announced that it has acquired pixi* Software GmbH (“pixi”), “a leading Germany-based provider of technology solutions for e-commerce order fulfilment and warehouse management,” for $10.4 million. Here are some details from the press release:

For over 10 years, pixi has helped its customers automate e-commerce processes originating from online orders, and is currently integrated with hundreds of e-commerce sites in Europe. The company’s customers include both small-to-medium sized businesses (“SMBs”) and larger retailers looking to enhance their online presence to meet the need for omni-channel deliveries. pixi’s platform collects order information from an e-commerce webfront, translates that into a scanner-driven pick and pack process within the warehouse, initiates the shipment to the customer, and synchronizes all of this information with the customer’s financial system for invoicing and shipment tracking.

I am not familiar with pixi’s solutions, so I can’t comment on their specific capabilities, but based on the information provided, the solution footprint aligns well with the capabilities Descartes acquired last year when it bought Oz Development. Simply put, Descartes is starting to focus on helping companies (especially small and mid-sized businesses) better integrate and automate their e-commerce, warehouse management and shipping processes. As Brian Hodgson from Descartes wrote in a guest commentary a few weeks ago:

While companies are investing heavily in applications to support e-commerce, cloud-based ERP and mobility, these applications are not, however, tightly integrated and they often lack all of the features necessary to fully automate order management and fulfilment processes, especially across new fulfillment models. This often leads to pockets of manual work or gaps in automation, which creates labor-intensive clerical tasks, error-prone data entry and compromised customer service.

Coincidently, Pitney Bowes made a significant and related announcement this week at a press event in New York City. The company announced the launch of the Pitney Bowes Commerce Cloud, “a commerce enabler that provides access to solutions, analytics and APIs across the full commerce continuum with speed and agility to help clients identify customers, locate opportunities, enable communications, power shipping from anywhere to everywhere, and manage payments.” In short, Pitney Bowes is transforming itself into a cloud provider of software solutions across a broad spectrum of applications, including shipping, transportation management, and global trade management.

Among the solutions announced is SendPro, a cloud-based multi-carrier shipping solution which includes the U.S. Postal Service, FedEx and UPS. Other solutions available via the Pitney Bowes Commerce Cloud include Borderfree Retail (end-to-end cross-border shopping experience), Enroute Shipping (software-as-a-service transportation management solution), and SendSuite Tracking Online (inbound package management).

And underscoring my prediction for this year that APIs and web services will gain more traction in the industry, Pitney Bowes is also providing some solutions via APIs and web services, including Location APIs, web services for tariff classification and duty calculation, and shipping APIs.

Back to Descartes, the company refers to itself as “the global leader in uniting logistics-intensive businesses in commerce.” Compare that to how Pitney Bowes refers to itself: “a global technology company that provides innovative products and solutions to power commerce.”

Commerce — it’s the bright new sun many supply chain and logistics solution providers are starting to revolve around.

Finally, JDA is having its FOCUS 2016 conference next week in Nashville, TN, but the company is already making new product announcements, including partnerships and enhancements to its transportation management solution. Here are some details from the press release:

JDA announced new partnerships with FourKites, INTTRA and TransVoyant that extend real-time visibility and predictive analytics within JDA® Transportation Management.

New enhancements to JDA Transportation Manager include:

Driver Relay Optimization and Management: This capability considers multiple relay hub routes for each load to more efficiently identify the relay hub path that reduces overall transportation cost. It provides improved driver pool utilization across a relay network and improved routing of drivers, all while moving loads more efficiently across a transportation network.

Driver Assignment: Dispatch operations can achieve greater operational excellence by effectively managing drivers and their assignments for loads and trips. Core driver management capabilities include driver and related asset identification, eligible driver candidate selection, driver execution constraints, and driver cost center assignment.

Geographic Data Support: JDA is working with Telogis and HERE to offer integrated worldwide coverage for mapping and street-level distance calculations. Mapping capabilities including transit time provision at street-level provision are provided within Transportation Smartbench.

Transportation Smartbench Gets Smarter: Smartbench, JDA’s powerful user interface now gives planners the ability to view, manage and operate stop-level functions, particularly for scenarios requiring heavy multi-stop load building, and get a complete picture of stop operations during execution. Planners can execute stop-level operations – including stop re-ordering, appointment handling, ETA updates and shipment split and join operations – and gauge amount execution activity amounts necessary at each stop by listing all shipment legs attached to individual stops.

I look forward to seeing these capabilities and more at next week’s conference, and sharing my takeaways in a future post.

And with that, have a happy weekend!

Song of the Week: “Ablaze” by School of Seven Bells

Note: Descartes and JDA Software are Talking Logistics sponsors.