In a sign of how e-commerce and omni-channel fulfillment are disrupting the status quo in the retail industry, and the ripple effect it’s having on supply chain and logistics processes, Walmart, Facebook, and Uber announced this morning that they are forming a strategic alliance (to be called “Unrivaled,” according to sources) that will “redefine and improve the buying experience for consumers around the world, from product search and discovery through final delivery” and “raise the bar on what it means to delight customers.”
Here are some additional excerpts from the press release:
Unrivaled product search and selection. Unrivaled global reach and insights. Unrivaled delivery performance and reliability. Unrivaled affordability.
“That is what consumers around the world expect today, whether they are buying products online or at a local store,” said Mark Zuckerberg, Chief Executive Officer at Facebook. “By bringing together the strengths, capabilities, and scale of the world’s largest retailer, the world’s largest social networking community, and the world’s most innovative transportation network company, we will deliver unrivaled value to consumers everywhere and rewrite the rules for success in commerce.”
A press conference is scheduled for 3:00 pm ET this afternoon in New York City where the leaders of all three companies will share more details about the alliance. According to the press release, Unrivaled will launch this June in several large cities across the United States, including Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago, and other major cities around the world, including London and Tokyo, will be added this fall.
“This is the most significant example of how commerce, logistics, and social networking are converging,” said Adrian Gonzalez, industry analyst at Adelante SCM and host of Talking Logistics. “Walmart and Uber have been working together since last June, with Uber delivering groceries for the retailer in Phoenix, Arizona. Meanwhile, Facebook has been positioning itself as a portal for e-commerce ever since it introduced a ‘buy’ button in 2014, and it’s no secret that Uber has its sights on disrupting the logistics service provider market, with services such as UberRUSH and UberFreight.”
“Obviously, this is a strategic response to Amazon’s dominance in the market,” Gonzalez added. “If you’re going to beat Amazon and truly offer an unrivaled buying experience, you can’t just copy what they do; you have to outflank them. Walmart, Facebook, and Uber are the Allies and today is their D-Day.”
Other analysts, however, were more skeptical and concerned about the news. “Obviously, we’ll learn more this afternoon at the press conference,” said Leonard Selsky, chief retail analyst at Morgan Stanley, “but based on what’s been reported so far, this is a very risky move for all three companies, especially Facebook and Uber who are essentially limiting their retail market opportunity and putting their existing relationships with other retailers at risk by aligning so closely with Walmart.”
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos was asked about the alliance at the Q Conference in London, where he had just delivered a keynote address on Blue Origin and the future of space travel. After initially expressing some surprise, he paused for a moment and then asked the reporter, “Are you sure this isn’t fake news or an early April Fools joke?”
Meanwhile, in other supply chain and logistics news this week…
- Watch Amazon’s Prime Air make its first public U.S. drone delivery (ReCode)
- Uber resumes self-driving program three days after Arizona crash (Reuters)
- Domino’s is going to use sidewalk robots in Germany to deliver pizza (ReCode)
- Trump Administration Signals It Would Seek Mostly Modest Changes to Nafta (WSJ – sub. req’d)
- How a border tax could divide Boeing and its suppliers (Reuters)
- Freightos Raises $25 Million Round, led by GE Ventures, to Expand Marketplace
- Turvo Automates Supply-Chain Tracking, Raises $25 million in Series A Financing (WSJ – sub. req’d)
- Transporeon Group Launches Next Generation of Mobile Order Management for Complete Visibility Into the Digital End-to-End Transportation Journey
- Intelligent Energy signs deal with PINC to supply its air cooled fuel cell systems for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)
- Deadline Looms for Trucking Companies to Comply with FDA Sanitary Transportation Rule (Trucks.com)
- Truckload Turnover Rate Plummets in Fourth Quarter
- Trucking IPO will net Schneider family $230 million (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
- H&M invests in supply chain as fashion rivalry intensifies (Reuters)
I used up all of my time this morning making up Unrivaled, so I’ll comment on some of the news above next week.
Have a happy weekend!
Song of the Week: “North Side Gal” by J.D. McPherson