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Order Fulfillment in Review: August 2015

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Well, that was summer. Sure, we might get a few more weeks of temporary temperature bumps, but the free and easy days of August vacations are now in the rearview and the race into peak season is upon us.

August Fulfillment Review

If you're unwilling to accept that those summer days will soon be a distant memory, let us take you back one last time.

Fulfillment in Review: August 2015

Here's our digest of all the order fulfillment issues and news that mattered in August 2015:

  1. The financial markets took a major hit as August drew to a close, which we're sure you caught even if you were away on vacation. Less widely publicized but no less important was the contraction in US trade with the rest of the world, logged over the first seven months of the year. The value of the nation's goods and services traded externally dropped 2.7 percent in that period, which equates to around $83 billion and marks a continued decline in America's role as the engine of global economic expansion. That shift has been slow but steady and is likely to play a profound role in international fulfillment as developing economies like China and India overtake the US.
  2. Despite a tone of doom and gloom around coverage of the global economic outlook, the sentiment on U.S. railroads was reassuringly upbeat. Senior AAR representative John T. Gray confirmed that the organization expects "demand for rail service should continue to grow," which he puts down as a function of downstream demand that gives us reason to be optimistic about the economy as a whole. The numbers support that view, with carload traffic for August up by 4.6% on the same period for 2014.
  3. A horrific explosion at a warehouse in Tianjin, China left the world in shock, with fulfillment experts analyzing the wider impact as the news continued to reverberate around mainstream news outlets. Our thoughts and wishes go out to everyone affected by the accident.
  4. A varied take on the balance of imports across the US, as various outlets reported on the advances made by East Coast ports in terms of shipping volume, while the Wall Street Journal covered the rebound of the West Coast following months of decline. Expect those dynamic shifts to continue with the continued expansion of shipping lanes like the Panama and Suez canals, as we reported in last month's fulfillment review.
  5. The outlook was also bright on America's roads, as Bloomberg explained how U.S. trucking is keeping up with economic growth. The feature includes a look at the Freight Sentiment Report, conducted by the CK Commercial Vehicle Research group, which shows more and more trucking companies adding trailer capacity to meet increased demand. As with the railroad numbers, anticipated volumes on the country's roads are seen as a leading indicator of what the wider economy is doing.
  6. Concerns around the effectiveness of the United States Postal Service as a commercial carrier were raised with the news that its late deliveries metric rose by an enormous 48% for the first half of the year. Although the problems primarily affect direct mail providers, the decline in service standards will undoubtedly be a concern for any shippers who use hybrid delivery services for the final mile of their fulfillment process.
  7. Amazon continued to add to its list of "places you'd least expect to pick up a package," as its patent to create something akin to an Amazon locker on wheels went public. So there's one more thing to distract you from your stop on the subway.

There you have it, all the news that was fit for fulfillment in review and around the supply chain this past month. Now all you have is the rush of the holiday season to handle...

Don't worry, we'll be here for you!