As we accelerate into April and bid a fond farewell to Q1, there are still plenty of supply chain news and views that you might have missed last month. That's why we provide this quick monthly digest to bring you back up to speed.
Fulfillment Review: March 2017
If you have that nagging feeling that something slipped through the cracks, take the time to explore these fulfillment-related headlines from March.
eBay has taken something of a backseat in the e-commerce arms race, as Amazon reigns and big box retailers like Walmart and Target do their best to keep pace. Nonetheless, the online auction site remains a factor in this discussion and has rolled out a new Guaranteed Delivery Program to show us it still means business. The program promises three-day delivery on millions of items. It's a sign of how quickly the e-commerce world moves that this guarantee already sounds behind the curve, with other online retailers more focused on expanding their same-day delivery initiatives.
Four shipping lines were subpoenaed by the U.S. Justice Department over allegations of price fixing. Industry leaders Maersk Line and Hapag-Lloyd are among the parties caught up in the claim, which is investigating artificially inflated ocean freight rates at a time when demand is waning and overcapacity is burdening many carriers.
The great reset of physical retail stores continued in March, as two perennial mall brands announced major closures. Payless Shoe Source and Gamestop will each close hundreds of stores around the U.S., citing declining sales and aggressive competition from online retailers as the main factor in this restructuring.
Trucking and intermodal railroad activity both declined in the most recent Transportation Services Index (TSI) data, released by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics last month. The figures show the TSI remaining stable as we entered 2017, with the declines above offset by other forms of freight transport such as air freight.
Drones continued to dominate the fulfillment technology headlines, with Walmart exploring in-store systems for the flying automatons and Amazon trying to patent something that industry analysts describe as a "super-drone," made up of many smaller drones coming together to deliver heavier items ... if you've been forced to see the recent Power Rangers movie with your kids, you might have some idea what this looks like!
If the start of spring seems too early to start getting ready for the holiday rush, think again. As our article on preparing for peak season explains, there's so much to organize that getting an early start can make all the difference to your delivery rates and overall customer satisfaction when the holidays roll around.
As Earth Day nears next week, a report from SCPR last month highlights the fine balance between encouraging eco-friendly technologies and disrupting crucial operations. No-one argues that the Port of Los Angeles is right to tackle excess emissions, but the liquefied natural gas trucks it chose almost a decade ago have provided new problems.
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