Above the Fold: Supply Chain Logistics News (June 21, 2019)

This would have been a fantastic April Fools’ joke, except it’s real.

Check out this video from GE on how to reset their “C” light bulbs. Again, this is not a joke, this a real instructional video:

The best part is reading the comments people are posting, like these gems:

“I reset mine by using a dumpster.”

“This video made me forget about my soulless existence and feel alive for 8 seconds, then dead for 2 seconds, then alive for 8 seconds, then dead for 2 seconds, then…”

Now that the video has gone viral, GE has issued the following statement: “We know technology can be complicated and are aware that our current factory reset process isn’t ideal. We’re finding simpler methods for our users and appreciate the patience.”

Yes, technology can be complicated, but only if you make it so.

Okay, moving on, here’s the supply chain and logistics news that caught my attention this week:

Shopify: The Convergence of Commerce and Logistics Continues

“The traditional lines between software vendors, third-party logistics providers (3PLs), and consultants have been blurring for a long time. Now we’re witnessing a new convergence emerging: between the front-end of e-commerce and the back-end, namely logistics.”

I wrote that back in December 2016 as part of my supply chain and logistics predictions for 2017. As an example, I pointed to Symphony Commerce, a provider of cloud technology for e-commerce platforms that had raised $11 million that year to grow its fulfillment business. Well, the convergence continues. Shopify, a leading multi-channel commerce platform, introduced this week the Shopify Fulfillment Network that “will provide U.S. merchants with a network of distributed fulfillment centers, and uses machine learning to ensure timely deliveries and lower shipping costs, putting their brand and customer experience front and center.”

According to Shopify’s website: “Our smart inventory-allocation technology, powered by machine learning, predicts the closest fulfillment centers and optimal inventory quantities per location to ensure fast, low-cost delivery. After your customer completes checkout, Shopify Fulfillment Network takes care of everything else.”

And according to the Wall Street Journal:

The company is working with logistics providers and software companies in Nevada, California, Texas, Georgia, New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

“Our aim is to make fast and inexpensive shipping the new standard on the internet,” said Shopify Chief Product Officer Craig Miller.

This has been a missed opportunity for leading 3PLs. They could have formed partnerships with distributed order management (DOM) and other technology companies and bring this solution to market years ago, with their brand in the forefront. Instead, it’s technology companies that are taking the lead, along with newcomers like FLEXE that are driving innovation.

3PLs, you have to ask yourselves, what business are you in? Hint: if your answer is simply “we’re in the warehousing and transportation business,” you’re limiting your opportunity for growth and differentiation.

What’s next? Well, like I said back in 2016, it wouldn’t surprise me if leading social networks — most likely Facebook or Google — moved beyond search and advertising and became more directly involved in commerce and logistics too.

For related commentary, please read:

Uber Freight’s Facility Insights Report

Former New York City mayor Ed Koch was famous for asking “How’m I doin’?” If you’re a shipper asking that question, Uber Freight is going to provide you with some answers based on ratings and feedback provided by carriers and drivers.

Uber Freight released its first Facility Insights Report this week. According to the company’s blog:

Facility ratings is a feature within the Uber Freight app that empowers carriers and drivers to share feedback on their experiences at shipping facilities. A few short months after launching the feature we’ve accumulated over 250,000 unique 1-5 star ratings, as well as written reviews.

Starting today, data from facility ratings is available to all shippers via the Uber Freight platform. Shippers now have access to the driver-experience data they need to measure each facility’s performance and identify specific areas for improvement to build more efficient supply chains.

Kate Kaufman, Director of Account Operations for Uber Freight, shared some insights with Jeff Berman at Logistics Management:

The biggest takeaway from the report is that a driver’s most valuable commodity is their time. More so than anything else, drivers value facility speed and efficiency so they can get back on the road faster. “Fast loading” was cited in  37.1% of all reviews—more than 2x as many mentions as the second-most-cited indicator, “friendly service”—and for positive ratings, 89% of total reviews explicitly stated that fast loading/unloading was key to a good facility experience.

Ultimately, drivers’ time is precious and they want to get into the facility, get loaded or unloaded, and get on their way as quickly as possible.

This coincides with research conducted by Transplace a few years ago, which I wrote about in What Carriers Look For In Shippers. One of the first things carriers look at is “driver productivity, and dwell time is part of that,” said Ben Cubbitt, SVP Procurement and Engineering at Transplace in my interview with him. “When my driver gets there, if it’s a live unload, are you getting him in and out quickly? If it’s a drop trailer, is the drop trailer ready?”

The insights provided by Uber Freight’s report will be eye-opening for many shippers. But will they take any action to improve or just shrug their shoulders and keep doing what they’re doing?

And with that, have a happy weekend!

Song of the Week: “Rylan” by The National