Above the Fold: Supply Chain Logistics News (June 10, 2022)

Andy Fletcher, a founding member of Depeche Mode, died in late May at age 60.

First came the shock that he died, then came the shock that he was only 60 years old.

How could he have been only 9 years older than me? I’ve been listening to Depeche Mode since 8th grade, surely Andy must have been older, right?

The nine years between ages 13 and 22 are a lifetime away, but between ages 51 and 60, they’re just heartbeats apart.

Andy Fletcher is dead, and I haven’t felt so alive in years.

If you’re a die-hard fan like me, you get it. 

RIP Fletch.

Moving on, it was a very busy week in the world of supply chain and logistics news. 

A Season for Partnerships

While not as splashy as acquisitions, with another one announced this week (Descartes acquires XPS Technologies, see more below), there are plenty of partnerships in the industry too. Here are a few announced this week:

B-Stock Solutions and ReverseLogix: “The partnership provides merchants with ReverseLogix’s powerful returns management solution (RMS) that empowers sellers to centrally manage eCommerce product returns with B-Stock’s industry leading platform to sell and buy customer returns, overstock, and other excess merchandise.”

Uber Freight and Waymo Via: “This partnership brings together the power of Waymo’s autonomous driving technology with the scale of Uber Freight’s network and leading marketplace technology, unlocking a road map for the thoughtful and safe implementation of autonomous trucks on roads across the US.”

XPO Logistics and Google Cloud:  “A multi-year collaboration to further innovate how goods move through supply chains. Leveraging Google Cloud’s expertise in artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and data analytics, XPO is building faster, more efficient supply chains with greater visibility.”

Blume Global and Resilinc: The two companies have partnered “to provide Blume Global customers with best-in-class risk management solutions…Equipping customers with the ability to assess possible disruptions and mitigate them with minimal impact is key to true supply chain agility. With Resilinc’s suite of supply chain resiliency solutions, Blume Orchestration is complemented with AI-powered event monitoring, supplier visibility, data and risk scoring, and predictive technology that predicts delivery delays, price movements and supply constraints.”

You can build. You can buy. Or you can partner.

The latter is becoming increasingly important for technology companies and logistics service providers. It is often the fastest path to enabling new capabilities and delivering value to customers (assuming both parties don’t just stop at the press release and actually invest the time, money, and resources to enable the promised benefits). 

As I’ve said before, in the world of supply chain and logistics, it will no longer be just software that will be eating the world (to use Marc Andreessen’s famous quote from 2011), but software and networks. And this includes having a network of ecosystem partners.

Descartes, Emerge, and e2open in the News

Several of our Talking Logistics sponsors made the news this week. Here are the highlights:

Descartes: The company acquired XPS Technologies (XPS), “a leading provider of ecommerce multi-carrier parcel shipping solutions. XPS provides its cloud-based multi-carrier parcel shipping solutions directly to small-, medium- and large-sized ecommerce shippers. It also provides a white-label shipping platform to logistics services providers. The XPS platform helps customers streamline their ecommerce supply chain and reduce transportation costs by automatically importing orders, comparing carrier rates, printing shipping labels for all major carriers, and tracking through final delivery. The XPS platform is even more powerful with its integrations to leading ecommerce marketplaces, ERP providers and supply chain platforms.”

This follows e2open’s acquisition of Logistyx Technologies, another provider of parcel and e-commerce shipping and fulfillment technology, in March 2022. Simply put, parcel is no longer the ignored mode of transportation management systems; it is the growth mode.

Emerge: The company launched Emerge Benchmarking, “an enhancement to its RFP solution that empowers data-driven decision-making. Enabled by Machine Learning, Emerge Benchmarking updates and aggregates freight industry data from numerous trusted sources, providing users with vital business intelligence and market insights in real-time so they can quickly evaluate options and make informed decisions.”

When it comes to dealing with uncertainty and volatility, which defines the transportation market today, staying informed of what’s happening in the world — with regulations, the economy, geopolitical activities, transportation and labor markets, the competitive landscape, emerging technologies, and so on — is the first step. The good news is that we have greater access to real-time data and information today than ever before, especially when it comes to transportation market data and trends. Embedding this market intelligence within freight procurement decision-making processes is becoming a leading practice. 

e2open: The company unveiled its brand refresh including a new e2open® logo, brand identity, and tagline: “Moving as one.” “The new e2open brand identity builds on the idea that suppliers, manufacturers, transporters, and fulfillment channels across the supply chain must be empowered to operate as one – optimizing supply, demand, and delivery efficiently and sustainably while the world is in constant motion. The introduction of e2open communicates how the company brings transparency and efficiency to global supply chains by connecting participants and data, a spirit of partnership with its clients and a united vision to work toward a better world. The fresh, simple branding reflects straightforward confidence and rigorous precision.”

To put it in my words, e2open’s new brand identity and messaging echoes the “network effects” power of what I have historically called Supply Chain Operating Networks, which bring together a network of trading partners with cloud-based software applications. Instead of companies creating hundreds or thousands of one-to-one connections with their trading partners (suppliers, carriers, customers, customs agencies, etc.), they make a single connection to the network platform, where their trading partners and thousands of other companies are also connected — and they use the cloud applications that reside on the network to communicate, collaborate, and execute business processes in more efficient, scalable, and innovative ways.

And with that, have a happy weekend!

Song of the Week: “But Not Tonight” by Depeche Mode