July 29, 2015

We recently held a webinar to explore the fundamental elements of order fulfillment. Capacity’s co-founder and CSO Thom Campbell identified five key areas to focus on if you truly want to develop a fulfillment process that keeps customers coming back to your business time and time again.

Today we look at how you can keep fulfillment costs down, with regular process reviews and by building constructive partnerships in the industry. You can read the rest of the entries in this compelling series under the tag Fulfillment Fundamentals. Continue reading Fulfillment Fundamentals: Cost Management

July 22, 2015

We had a close call here recently in New Jersey, as a facility next to us on Corporate Road in North Brunswick was hit by a fire.

It’s always scary to see that much smoke up close and personal, and seriously disheartening to note the damage done as crucial company equipment goes up in flames.

Thankfully, no-one was hurt in the incident and, with the proper insurance, property can always be replaced. Continue reading A Local Reminder on Insurance and Preparedness

July 14, 2015

So, are you all set for the big day?
If you shrug your shoulders and look mildly confused, you’re forgiven; July 15th is not typically a day of great note… yet. Amazon would like to change that, however, as it seeks to set the date in stone as Prime Day.

Under the banner of celebrating the company’s 20th anniversary, Prime Day is the latest in a line of members-only promotions and services that Amazon hopes will win over new subscribers. Billed as an event “bigger than Black Friday,” it’s fair to say that the company has high hopes of cornering the calendar on this one.

Make no bones about it, the e-commerce giant is serious about becoming the consumer’s one-stop shop for online purchases.

Do We Need a New Black Friday?
After raising the question late last year as to whether retailers had jumped the shark with fabricated discount days, it’s clear which camp Amazon falls into.

Clearly, there’s some indication that it felt the same about the seasonal holiday rush to deep discounts. The answer from Bezos and co, however, is not to curtail these celebratory sales events, but rather to spread them out.

Somewhat inevitably,  Amazon won’t be alone in this endeavor. Walmart has already entered the fray with something it’s calling “atomic deals,” and others are expected to follow.

Whether they can make the July 15th deadline is another matter, but there’s plenty of summer left yet and you can bet your bottom dollar that retail marketing managers around the country are in meetings this week to plan their respective responses.

Interestingly, Amazon seems to have been inspired to hold Prime Day by competitors both existing and emerging.

On the major player side,  Alibaba’s Singles Day has been a growing sales event in China since 2009. With the company’s successful IPO last year on the New York Stock Exchange, Alibaba clearly has ambitions to become more of an influence in Amazon’s home market and the wider international stage.

On the start-up side, jet.com is set to launch next week. The club savings site is run by Amazon alumnus Marc Lore, who has a history of rattling his former employer’s cage and is basing much of the site’s appeal on discounts that are deeper even than Amazon’s.

Whether it’s celebration or competition that gave birth to Prime Day, the end result is the same: a speeded-up schedule for the e-commerce price wars, with all of the pluses that come with it for consumers, but also plenty of associated negatives for smaller-scale retailers.

At the Other End of the Scale
For smaller brands, the current retail landscape is less clear.

Unable to compete in a long-term price war with the giants, who can afford to accept heavy losses on select products to win the wider war for consumers, they must fall back on other competitive distinctions. Quality of service and depth of knowledge in a specific niche still offer an opportunity to give customers something they can’t find in mass services, and some are willing to pay for that quality regardless of the discounts on offer elsewhere.

A price squeeze is inevitable as discount competition hots up, but it doesn’t spell the end for smaller brands in general.

There are always brands that will find a loyal customer base when they stay true to a core value or service offering. With a targeted strategy and tight operation, it’s possible to emerge from whatever dust Prime Day and its peers stir up, stronger and more focused on what it is that makes your business special to consumers.

July 10, 2015

It’s Friday and heading into the height of summer sun, so we’ll get right into it this month. Here’s your review of everything supply chain and logistics industry-related that mattered most in June.

(If we missed anything important, please let me and the readers know in the comments!)

Logistics in Review: June 2015

  • US rail freight posted impressive numbers throughout the month, with the highlight being a record-setting second week in which intermodal volumes hit 283,363 containers. The news continues the country’s wider embrace of intermodal transport solutions, which we examined in this article last fall.
  • Road freight bounced back from its April dip, with the American Trucking Association reporting last month that May’s 1.1% increase in tonnage almost erased the 1.4% drop the previous month Although volumes have not been able to sustain January’s record high, analysts remain positive on the sector’s performance for the rest of the year.
  • In other road-related news, the Department of Transport effected an important part of its long-term road safety initiative, ensuring that tomorrow’s vehicles will all be fitted with anti-rollover devices. The measure makes it mandatory for all trucks manufactured after August 1st, 2017, to be fitted with electronic stability control systems that are expected to prevent thousands of crashes every year, some of them fatal.
  • When the world’s largest shipping line lays out plans for a $1.8 billion capital investment in new vessels, you know the future of the industry is looking rosy (for them and the cargo they carry, at least). The major expenditure will bring 11 new ships into the expansive Maersk Line fleet, which currently stands at 255 vessels it owns and hundreds more that are chartered. The company has a reputation for introducing the latest and greatest ships to the high seas, such as the E-Class series which occupy two of the top five positions in terms of  container volume.
  • Speaking of shipping, the balance of Asia-centric imports to the United States has long favored West coast ports, for obvious reasons. That may all change in the second half of the decade, however, not only due to recent industrial action causing severe congestion for much of 2014, but because the expanded Suez Canal is about to reopen. As a bicoastal fulfillment provider, we’re open to either side of the country, but this is an intriguing development that could see our home base of New Jersey seeing even more action than usual in the years to come. Let the (friendly) competition commence!

 

We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming next week, including some new industry-specific articles that we’re sure you’ll enjoy.

Be sure to sign up for those here, or by following our social streams on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin. In the meantime, have a great weekend!

July 1, 2015

We recently held a webinar to explore the fundamental elements of order fulfillment. Capacity’s co-founder and CSO Thom Campbell identified five key areas to focus on if you truly want to develop a fulfillment process that keeps customers coming back to your business time and time again.

To follow up on that event we’re unpacking each of these elements in more detail. Today we look at the importance of using the most suitable order fulfillment technology to ensure that you can deliver on your fulfillment promises to customers. You can read the rest of the entries in this compelling series under the tag Fulfillment Fundamentals. Continue reading Fulfillment Fundamentals: Appropriate Technology