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jerryking : distribution_centres   8

How FleetOptic’s data analytics smooth the last mile of a parcel’s journey
SEPTEMBER 27, 2019 | The Globe and Mail| by JOANNA PACHNER, SPECIAL TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL.

FleetOptics specializes in so-called last-mile delivery, from a retailer's distribution centre to the customer's door—the hardest and most expensive portion, estimated to account for a least 30% of total transportation cost. It's also the most vital as, in the e-commerce era, receiving the package is often the only contact consumers have with a human during the transaction. FleetOptics' software makes the parcel's progress transparent for both business and consumer. Customers can track the driver on-screen as they might an approaching Uber car, avoiding that infuriating experience of the deliveryman arriving just after they jump in the shower. Retailers, meanwhile, can check packages' status in real time through FleetOptics' online portal. As co-founder Vince Buckley pithily sums it up, “Tesla is a battery company that also makes cars. We're a technology company that also makes deliveries.”
analytics  data  data_driven  delivery  delivery_networks  delivery_services  distribution  distribution_centres  e-commerce  FleetOptics  fulfillment  last_mile  logistics  package_delivery  retailers  same-day  start_ups  shipping  third-party  traceability  tracking  trucking  warehouses 
november 2019 by jerryking
This Thriving City—and Many Others—Could Soon Be Disrupted by Robots - WSJ
Feb. 9, 2019 | WSJ | By Christopher Mims.

In and around the city of Lakeland, Florida you’ll find operations from Amazon, DHL (for Ikea), Walmart , Rooms to Go, Medline and Publix, a huge Geico call center, the world’s largest wine-and-spirits distribution warehouse and local factories that produce natural and artificial flavors and, of all things, glitter.

Yet a recent report by the Brookings Institution, based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau and McKinsey & Co., argues that the economic good times for Lakeland could rapidly come to an end. Brookings placed it third on its list of metros that are most at risk of losing jobs because of the very same automation and artificial intelligence that make its factories, warehouses and offices so productive......As technology drives people out of the middle class, economists say, it’s pushing them in one of two directions. Those with the right skills or education graduate into a new technological elite. Everyone else falls into the ranks of the “precariat”—the precariously employed, a workforce in low-wage jobs with few benefits or protections, where roles change frequently as technology transforms the nature of work......One step in Southern Glazer’s warehouse still requires a significant number of low-skill workers: the final “pick” station where individual bottles are moved from bins to shipping containers. This machine-assisted, human-accomplished step is common to high-tech warehouses of every kind, whether they’re operated by Amazon or Alibaba. Which means that for millions of warehouse workers across the globe, the one thing standing between them and technological unemployment is their manual dexterity, not their minds.... “I think there will be a time when we have a ‘lights out’ warehouse, and cases will come in off trucks and nobody sees them again until they’re ready to be shipped to the customer,” says Mr. Flanary. “The technology is there. It’s just not quite cost-effective yet.”
artificial_intelligence  automation  Christopher_Mims  disruption  distribution_centres  Florida  manual_dexterity  precarious  productivity  robotics  warehouses  cities  clusters  geographic_concentration  hyper-concentrations 
february 2019 by jerryking
Inside FreshDirect’s Big Bet to Win the Home-Delivery Fight - WSJ
By Jennifer Smith
July 18, 2018 5:30 a.m

Designed to keep food fresh longer and move it faster, FreshDirect’s 400,000 square-foot distribution centre is the online grocer’s multimillion-dollar bet on the fastest-growing sector in the grocery business, home-delivery. FreshDirect pioneered the e-commerce home-delivery market, and now with Amazon and big grocery chains like Kroger Co. piling on investments, companies are jockeying for position in a business that some believe is the future of supermarket sales.....FreshDirect's trucks now provide next-day delivery to customers across the New York-New Jersey, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., metropolitan areas, with plans to expand into Boston next. The private company says it generated between $600 million and $700 million in annual revenue in 2017.

It declined to disclose the cost of the new facility, which was financed with the help of a $189 million investment round in 2016 led by J.P. Morgan Asset Management, direct funding and incentives from state and local governments......Amazon, Target Corp. and other large companies have invested hundreds of millions of dollars to expand food delivery and build out their grocery e-commerce operations. Supermarket chain owner Koninklijke Ahold Delhaize NV’s Peapod unit, the longest-running online grocery service in the U.S., has expanded to 24 markets and is investing in technology to cut its handling and delivery costs.

Walmart Inc. said this month that Jet.com, the online retailer it bought two years ago, will open a fulfillment center in the Bronx this fall to help roll out same- and next-day grocery deliveries in New York City.

The grocers are trying to solve one of the toughest problems in home delivery: Getting food to doorsteps in the same condition consumers would expect if they went to the store themselves. Delivering perishables is trickier than dropping off paper towels or dogfood. Fruit bruises, meat spoils, eggs break. ........FreshDirect’s logistic hurdles start well before delivery. It must get products from its suppliers to the building, process the food, then pick, pack and ship orders before the quality degrades.

That is why the new distribution centre has 15 different temperature zones. Tomatoes do best at about 55 degrees, but “chicken and meat like it to be just at 32 degrees... it gives more of shelf life to it,"....Software determines the most efficient route for each order, and tells workers which items to pick.....A big part of the facility [distribution centre] is ripping out tons and tons of operating costs out of the business.....The stakes in getting the technology right are high. FreshDirect is competing with grocery chains that often fill online orders through their stores, using a mix of staff and third-party services like Instacart Inc. So-called click-and-collect services, where consumers swing by to pick up their own orders, tend to have better margins because the retailer isn’t paying for last-mile delivery.....Online-only operations with centralized warehouses tend to be more efficient than logistics run out of stores, because they use fewer workers and can position goods for faster fulfillment.
algorithms  Amazon  big_bets  cold_storage  distribution_centres  distribution  e-commerce  food  FreshDirect  grocery  home-delivery  infrastructure  Kroger  logistics  perishables  retailers  software  supermarkets  Target  Wal-Mart  warehouses  fulfillment  same-day  piling_on  last_mile 
july 2018 by jerryking
At Luxury Stores, It Isn’t Shopping, It’s an Experience - WSJ
By Christina Binkley
April 16, 2017

What do luxury retailers in urban areas do when they face heavy pressure from the internet? Make their stores an experience. The high-end stores of tomorrow won’t try to compete with online retailers on price or convenience. Instead, they’ll do what many luxe shops are experimenting with now—turning themselves into destinations that customers go to visit instead of simply shop.....Stores will offer human connections, entertaining discoveries and dining options. And instead of being designed to feature one kind of inventory, the stores will function like pop-ups—completely changing what they offer from time to time, or even sweeping products aside to host community events......digital-native shoppers will determine how stores look and function, particularly in cities, where online alternatives with two-hour delivery windows are already plentiful.....

“Selling things isn’t going to be obvious. It’s going to be about selling experiences,” says John Bricker, creative director for Gensler, one of the world’s largest architectural firms with a global retail design practice......In some cases, retailers go so far to create destinations that they don’t even try to sell their signature products. The Gensler-designed Cadillac House in the lobby of the car maker’s New York headquarters is an art gallery and coffeehouse, with luxe white sedans on display by the entrance. People wander in for free Wi-Fi, then get familiar with the car brand by examining the vehicles, says Mr. Bricker. (The cars can’t be purchased there; legally, one must buy from a dealer.)....The strategy of providing a total experience is also spreading to independent retailers that aren’t aiming solely at high-end customers......These shifts are being followed by mass retailers as well. The idea: to move beyond the big-box strategy of the past—where companies built giant stores that people would go out of their way to visit—and build specially tailored stores in urban areas where customers live......Target recently decided to invest $7 billion in renovating its huge suburban stores and building new small-format urban stores, in a strategy to use the large stores as distribution centers for digital orders while creating a network of small city stores that will be located within easy reach of urban dwellers, both for offline shopping and picking up or returning online orders.

Brian Cornell, Target’s chief executive officer, says products will be selected for local populations by store managers who place orders from a catalog—less pet food and more snacks and notebooks for a store near a college campus, for instance.

Target looked at stores like Story in forming the strategy. “We learned a lot about agility,” from Story,
retailers  e-commerce  luxury  customer_experience  millennials  experiential_marketing  localization  merchandising  pop-ups  digital_natives  galleries  coffeehouses  brands  personal_connections  Target  agility  small_spaces  big-box  BOPIS  distribution_centres 
april 2017 by jerryking
Amazon’s Next Big Move: Take Over the Mall
November 14, 2016 | Technology Review | by Nicholas Carr .

What’s Amazon doing with Amazon Books?...Wall Street analysts and tech writers have filled the void with conjecture. The stores are all about selling gadgets, goes one popular idea, with the books there just to lure customers. The stores are data-gathering machines, goes another, enabling Amazon to extend its tracking of customers into the physical world. Or maybe the company’s secret plan is to use the stores to promote its cloud computing operation, Amazon Web Services, to other retailers....The theories are intriguing, and they may contain bits of truth. But the real impetus behind the stores is probably much simpler: Amazon wants to sell more books....Not long ago, the common wisdom held that Amazon would remake the book business in its own image. Its Web store would kill off bookstores, and its Kindle would render physical books obsolete. ...
“Pure-play Web retailing is not sustainable.”Bezos underestimated the allure of bricks and paper. With his bookstore chain, he now seems to be admitting that if Amazon is to expand its share of the book market, it will need to invest in bricks as well as bits....Having come up short in its plan to supplant books and bookstores with digital alternatives, the company is taking its revenge by attacking traditional bookshops on their own turf. Unlike the mom-and-pop independents, or even the struggling Barnes & Noble chain, Amazon has the scale and the cash required to wage a war of attrition. It can sustain losses on its stores for a long time.....Amazon Books may be just the vanguard of a much broader push into brick-and-mortar retailing by the company. In October, the Wall Street Journal revealed that Amazon is planning to open a chain of convenience stores, mainly for groceries, along with drive-in depots where consumers will be able to pick up merchandise ordered online. It has also begun rolling out small “pop-up” stores to hawk its electronic devices. It already has more than two dozen such kiosks in malls around the country, and dozens more are said to be in the works.

Even after 20 years of rapid growth, e-commerce still accounts for less than 10 percent of total retail sales. And now the rise of mobile computing places new constraints on Web stores.At the same time, the smartphone, with its apps, its messaging platforms, and its constant connectivity, gives retailers more ways to communicate with and influence customers, even when they’re shopping in stores. This is why the big trend in retailing today is toward “omnichannel” strategies, which blend physical stores, Web stores, and mobile apps in a way that makes the most of the convenience of smartphones and overcomes their limitations.....Beyond its expertise in Web sales, Amazon brings distinctive strengths to an omnichannel operation. Its vast, efficient network of warehouses and distribution centers can supply outlets and process returns. It has, thanks to the largesse and patience of its investors, a reservoir of cheap capital that it can draw on to fund a building spree. And it has a much-admired brand. What Amazon lacks is experience in the touchy-feely world of traditional retailing (e.g. merchandising??). The company’s proficiency in software and data crunching is unquestioned. Its people skills are another matter..... another of the store’s goals: to promote the Prime program, which is central to Amazon’s strategy of locking in customers....I feel let down. I had convinced myself that I was going to witness something fresh and unexpected at Amazon Books. What I found was an annex to a website—a store that, despite the bricks and paper, retains the coldness of the virtual.
e-commerce  shopping_malls  Amazon  Amazon_Prime  books  sterile  soulless  Nicholas_Carr  Amazon_Books  bricks-and-mortar  Jeff_Bezos  pure-plays  bookstores  omnichannel  strengths  smartphones  mobile_applications  loyalty_management  impersonal  people_skills  Achilles’_heel  weaknesses  convenience_stores  pop-ups  kiosks  voids  merchandising  AWS  physical_world  mom-and-pop  coldness  touchy-feely  cyberphysical  emotional_connections  empathy_vacuum  Amazon_Go  cashierless  locked_in  distribution_centres 
february 2017 by jerryking
Can Wal-Mart Clerks Ship as Fast as Amazon Robots? - WSJ
Dec. 18, 2014 | WSJ | By SHELLY BANJO, SUZANNE KAPNER and PAUL ZIOBRO.

The fast rise of rivals like Amazon.com Inc. and a far reaching change in shoppers’ habits has made it obvious that traditional retailers need to compete online. The trickier question is how to pull it off. Retailers’ answer is something called “omnichannel”—an attempt to use one set of inventory and assets to fill all orders.

The plan is driven by economic reality. Companies that already spend heavily maintaining thousands of stores aren’t able or willing to shell out the billions of dollars necessary to replicate Amazon’s 135-plus network of warehouses and fill them with inventory. While they are building distribution centers, they also hope some sweater sets can be shipped to online customers from a local Macy’s , or that Internet shoppers will pick up the television they ordered at a nearby Target.

Retailers are relying on the approach more heavily than ever this holiday season. It makes perfect sense in theory. In practice, though, the efficiencies possible in tightly packed, highly automated warehouse are hard to reproduce with inventory spread across stores built for live customers. Workarounds run up against space constraints, and items aren’t always where computer algorithms predict them to be.

“This is the first year,” said Jason Goldberger, head of Target.com, which is shipping orders from 136 of the company’s 1,800 U.S. stores. “We’ll learn.”

Big retailers have thousands of often sizable stores built near where their customers live. But the chains were built decades ago on a hub-and-spoke model. Pallets of goods were trucked to centralized warehouses. From there, boxes were sorted and transported to thousands of stores. Now with e-commerce, retailers are faced with delivering millions of items to millions of customer homes.
Wal-Mart  Amazon  omnichannel  distribution_channels  hub-and-spoke  retailers  supply_chains  e-commerce  automation  distribution_centres 
december 2014 by jerryking
Walmart Strains to Keep Grocery Aisles Stocked - NYTimes.com
By STEPHANIE CLIFFORD
Published: April 3, 2013

Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer and grocer, has cut so many employees that it no longer has enough workers to stock its shelves properly, according to some employees and industry analysts. Internal notes from a March meeting of top Walmart managers show the company grappling with low customer confidence in its produce and poor quality. “Lose Trust,” reads one note, “Don’t have items they are looking for — can’t find it.”...The retailer’s customers have complained about the quality and freshness in the produce aisle....Walmart charged into the grocery market about two decades ago, realizing that frequent trips by grocery shoppers could help improve traffic. Grocery made up 55 percent of Walmart United States sales in 2012, which was flat from the previous year. The company’s grocery prices are usually about 15 percent below competitors’, according to Supermarket News. ... Safeway customers are 71 percent confident in its fresh produce, the notes said, while Walmart customers are 48 percent confident in Walmart’s produce. In the interview, Mr. Sinclair of Walmart said he did not know where that data came from, but that “we believe that we can improve the perception of quality of produce for Walmart customers.”

The notes highlighted some stocking problems: “1 hour out of Refrigeration = 1 day less product life,” they read, adding that Walmart will change shift responsibilities so fresh food is not stocked overnight and goes out at 10 a.m., not 7 a.m. ...The company just introduced an inventory management system for produce departments nationwide that will track how many days an item has been in transit, how much shelf life remains, and what orders the company should place to meet demand. With delicate items like raspberries, “you almost need to know by the hour how long the product has been through our system,” which was hard to track when 42 distribution centers buying from hundreds of different vendors were sending around products,
cold_storage  Wal-Mart  fresh_produce  customer_experience  grocery  supermarkets  staffing  inventories  consumer_confidence  perishables  quality  tracking  shelf_life  merchandising  distribution_centres  refrigeration 
april 2013 by jerryking

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