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Walmart to offer Ship-to-Store discount

On April 19 Walmart will offer a discount to US customers who elect for shipping purchases to their stores, instead of their home address.

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Given Walmart’s retail store network consists of over four thousand stores across the US, the new discount that is being offered to online shoppers allows Walmart to test the market while challenging e-commerce focused companies like those of Amazon and Alibaba.

In the offer, Walmart will provide a large discount – in some cases up to $50 off of an item – if an online shopper chooses for their order to ship-to-store.

If the customer instead chooses to ship it to their home, the price stays unchanged and Walmart will provide free delivery.

Walmart is calling the program a “Pickup Discount” and launching it on 10,000 eligible SKUs across their inventory.

The “Pickup Discount” demonstrates how an effective supply chain strategy can enable a resurgence for retail. The Walmart shipping discount provides an incentive for customers to come back into their retail stores while saving money on shipping costs and passing the savings onto consumers.

Walmart has steadily increased their e-Commerce investment since acquiring Jet.com in 2016 for a reported $3 billion.

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Source: Business Insider
To view the original article, please click here.

State of the Art, High tech eCommerce warehouse unveiled at HBC

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Canada’s oldest retailer, Hudson Bay Company is betting big on technology.

In an article published by The Canadian Press*, a press conference unveiling the new technology with CEO Jerry Storch said it was like moving on from “an abacus to a MacBook Pro.”

Using a “Perfect Pick” robotic system, an item purchased online is located in the warehouse in less than 30 seconds and packed into a box, ready for mailing.

It is the first time the Perfect Pick system has been used in Canada, which operates 300 robots to store and retrieve products from bins the size of a recycling blue box.

About 2/3 of the 725,000-square foot distribution center has been converted to use the system.

CEO Storch said the company wants to meet customers’ needs, whether they want to shop in store or online.

“I don’t believe it’s a leap of faith,” he said. “It’s a strong statement of confidence in the future.”

Retail experts state it is the right move for a retailer like Hudson’s Bay, who has made a substantial investment in technology to set them apart from other bricks and clicks rivals.

Speed is critically important to online shoppers, especially in winning over e-commerce for the younger generations.

Hudson’s Bay saw an increase in its online sales in its latest quarter. For the period ending July 30, the company reported that its total digital sales across all banners jumped by 84.4 percent from the prior year.

Storch said the retailer is looking at expanding the technologies to its other three warehouses in Toronto and Vancouver and is also considering offering same-day delivery for some markets now that it has the capacity to fill that demand.

“Nobody, nobody, will beat Hudson’s Bay on the Internet,” he told a group of investors at the launch.

A multi-carrier shipping solution can enable your business to reach more markets in less time, at a lower cost.

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Source: Canadian Press
To view the original article, please click here.

Agile Network and Partner Invata Intralogistics Completes Omni-Channel Fulfillment Center For Destination Maternity

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Invata Intralogistics, Inc., experts in the design, implementation, and support of advanced automation systems, along with partner Agile Network, announces the successful delivery of a new 406,000 square foot, omni-channel fulfillment center for Destination Maternity Corporation in Florence, NJ.

Destination Maternity is the world’s largest designer and retailer of maternity apparel. As of January, 2016, it operates 1,815 retail locations, including 536 retail locations under the trade names: Motherhood Maternity®, A Pea in the Pod®, and Destination Maternity®, and 1,279 apparel departments within retailers such as Macy’s®, Sears®, Buy Buy Baby®, Boscov’s®, and Century 21®. The Company also provides maternity apparel for Kohl’s Department Stores®. Destination Maternity’s inventory is also available for direct to consumer shipments on brand websites and other e-commerce sites.

The Invata designed, built, and controlled warehouse automation system handles all aspects of Destination Maternity’s retail distribution, wholesale distribution, e-commerce fulfillment, and reverse logistics processing (consolidations and returns) for the U.S. market and various international markets. This includes e-commerce business coming through some of its retail partners’ websites as well.

Designing a system with such a high degree of servicing flexibility and multi-tasking capability required a multi-purpose approach to the employment of the material handling equipment, a highly innovative system design, and a highly sophisticated Warehouse Execution System to control the operation.
Some of the advanced material handling equipment (MHE) technology incorporated into the system included:

• A high-speed shuttle automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS) with 2 aisles of 21 levels of tote storage (approximately 25,000 totes) and 24 high-speed shuttles which are transferred between levels as needed.
• A mini-load crane ASRS with 4 cranes in high density, high-rise bays with a combined capacity of 75,000 cartons or totes.
• A Bomb Bay sorter feeding 600 discharge destinations at sortation speeds averaging 15,000 units per hour.
• A multi-purpose put wall with over 2000 put/pick-to-light displays.
• A substantial conveyor system including, numerous 24v routing sorters, 5 narrow belt sorters, 11 merges, and machine interface stations.
• Wearable radio-frequency technology throughout the entire facility for all user transactions.

Controlling the entire fulfillment operation is Invata’s Warehouse Execution Software. The Invata WES simultaneously orchestrates receiving, inventory storage, inventory management, picking, routing, order management and fulfillment, sorting, packing, labeling, and shipping for all Destination Maternity fulfillment channels. Processing over 400,00 units daily, the Invata WES dynamically deploys in-motion inventory while dynamically assigning equipment and labor resources on a real-time basis to optimize order fulfillment. Invata’s WES also provides complete system visibility as well as extensive reporting and metrics on system resources and system performance for use in operations management and evolution/optimization of system performance over time.

Agile Network’s TME Software and reporting that was integrated into the process resulted in a seamless process in the new building for all order types and gave Destination Maternity the ability to manage their freight costs and carrier network effectively on one system:

Carl Marcinkowski, Sr. Vice President of Distribution and Transportation at Destination Maternity Corporation said, “We researched a variety of designs that all satisfied different requirements. But no one, except Invata, blended it together and satisfied all our requirements. The Invata solution is both flexible and tailored to our unique business requirements — and Invata’s warehouse execution software enables us to multi-task the automation equipment to service multiple needs. We needed a complete solution from a single, fully accountable source, and Invata provided that,” he added.

“Within the first two weeks of start-up, the new fulfillment system at Destination Maternity successfully processed some of the heaviest inbound receipts and outbound shipments in the company’s history,” said Ryan Sheehan, CEO of Invata. “This level of performance at system start-up validates our unique value proposition of providing complete solutions derived from the data sciences of analytics, modeling, simulation, and optimization and taking complete responsibility for the results. We look forward to a long relationship with Destination Maternity.”

About Invata Intralogistics

Invata Intralogistics, Inc. is an innovative expert in the design, implementation, and life cycle support of automated distribution and fulfillment center operations with demonstrable expertise in both software and systems engineering and development. Specializing in integrating the flow of information with the flow of material goods, Invata offers complete solutions that begin with in-depth operational analysis and end with purpose-driven, turnkey intralogistics systems that optimize processes and resource utilization while maximizing operational efficiency.

About Agile Network

Agile Network is a leading provider of enterprise shipping software, customer returns management solutions, and transportation management execution solutions with more than 3 decades of experience supporting over 1,200 clients and hundreds of Fortune 500 Brands in the United States, Canada, Latin America, United Kingdom, European Union and Asia-Pacific. Agile Network TME handles both freight and parcel shipments with solutions tailored to serve diverse industry applications including: Retail, eCommerce, Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals, Financial Services, Automotive, Industrial Manufacturing, and Third Party Logistics. To learn more, visit: www.agile-network.com

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Source: Invata Intralogistics
To view the article, please click here.

UPS considers using drones to deliver packages

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Carriers around the world are trying to reduce shipping costs of last-mile package deliveries with drones. Among them, UPS thinks it can save money and deliver more packages by launching drones from its trucks.

UPS, in fact, delivered a parcel via drone yesterday in a trial outside of Tampa, Florida.

The process for drone delivery goes along these lines – The driver places a package inside a cage attached to the drone, then the roof slides back allowing the driver to initiate the drone’s autonomous flight path in delivering the shipment to the end destination.

Other major online retailer’s, like JD in China, have been using drones for the past year to deliver packages to rural areas and is reported to be planning an expansion with many more routes in 2017.

In France, the postal service is testing using drones on a remote mail route in the greater Provence region.

The last time UPS tested a drone delivery scenario was in September 2016, where it sent a drone flying to an island off the coast of Boston to simulate a delivery of time-sensitive medical supplies.

UPS says that if the drone delivery program can reduce just one mile from each of their drivers’ delivery routes a day, the drone delivery program could save about $50 million a year.

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News Source: CNN Tech
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TME awarded FedEx Diamond Compatible 2017

Agile Network TME is selected as FedEx® Diamond Compatible 2017, Awarded to FedEx® Compatible Solutions for Supporting Enterprise Transportation Management with All FedEx Domestic and International Shipping Services

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February 6, 2017 – Enterprise transportation management solution provider, Agile Network announced its Agile Network TME multi-carrier shipping software was awarded status as a FedEx® Diamond Compatible 2017 & also a FedEx Diamond Compatible Europe Solution by FedEx®. Agile Network solutions continue to build upon their FedEx Compatible legacy, having earned Diamond Status as part of the FedEx Compatible Solution Program with FedEx Diamond Compatible in 2014, 2015, 2016 and now are excited to announce their latest FedEx Diamond Compatible 2017 selection. FedEx Compatible solutions are designed to replace disparate manual processes and poorly or non-integrated shipping machines and carrier-provided software.

This distinction is awarded only to solutions demonstrating years of compatible integrations with the latest FedEx® technologies and FedEx® Services. Designed to help organizations identify qualified, third-party shipping solutions, The FedEx® Compatible Solution program requires software developers be up-to-date on current software for FedEx® Ship Manager Server or FedEx® Web Services, and also maintain high levels of customer satisfaction and retention. Of the hundreds of shipping solutions available, only a few achieve FedEx® Diamond Compatible distinction. To learn more, visit http://www.fedex.com/compatible.

As a FedEx® Compatible Diamond Solution, Agile Network TME provides shippers with real-time, 100% Compatible access to hundreds of other carriers along with all FedEx® Services, including FedEx® Ground, Express, SmartPost®, Returns, Freight and International Services such as FedEx® Electronic Trade Documents and FedEx International Ground Distribution (IGD). The TME solution allows shippers to instantly find the most convenient and cost-effective delivery service.

“Agile Network TME has been a certified FedEx Compatible solution since 2008 and is a true representation of a Compatible Diamond Tier product,” explained Donald Comer, Director of Marketing at FedEx. “Agile has been tiered every year since the Tier Program was introduced and continues to be a vital product for FedEx customers. Agile’s software provides hundreds of customer’s access to FedEx services through automation, both in the United States and now in Europe. FedEx congratulates Agile for their achievement and looks forward to continued success in the future.”

“The FedEx Compatible Program requires an exhaustive technical review and test process,” said Kevin V. Cox, Chief Executive Officer of Agile Network. “Achieving Diamond recognition from the FedEx Compatible Program assures our customers that the integration between Agile Network and FedEx systems has been approved and that the products work together as designed. This reduces risk and improves the implementation cycles for our joint customers.”

Carrier Capacity Concerns?

Shippers, 3PL’s, supply chain directors & warehouse managers all have been wondering, what will the Carriers do with all of this increased transportation demand?

We look at some developments that are expected to make an impact in transportation and are affecting the notion that Carrier Capacity has been met or will be exceeded in 2017 & beyond.

Regulatory Compliance: Carriers must be Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Compliant. The ELD rule is intended to increase the safety of drivers while improving the accessibility of records to track, manage and share of duty status (RODS) data. This means for some carriers who haven’t already adapted their processes to the newer electronic logging equipment might be burdened while onboarding the new electronic logging devices and refining practices in order to be ELD compliant.

Read more about ELD Compliance at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website here.

Economic Impact on Shipping: As the US economy trends upward in 2017, many major carriers will have an increased demand to move freight that matches or exceeds their existing fleet capacities. Carriers have already anticipated this and have made moves to address growing global delivery demand.

One such move is FedEx announcing their major merger with TNT, significantly enhancing their services globally and increasing their footprint throughout the European Union.

While some carriers have opted to simply replace equipment rather than expanding their fleets for the time being. Still, other carriers are expanding their services by entering into partnerships to upgrade their current infrastructures to help fill out the demands for deliveries.

And of course there’s always a few new entrants to the market, or it may be better stated in this case, new markets for the entrant in Amazon, with numerous reports that the eCommerce behemoth is building up its’ transportation network and may soon ship and deliver on their own.

Programs like Amazon FLEX are under weigh as Amazon schemes up another shipping option, consolidating its’ orders and in a way, “crowdsourcing” their delivery depending on who is available and may be already nearby, or simply heading in a specific direction.

With demand for transportation providers so far outpacing the supply in 2017, shippers may expect rates to likely increase, especially for more premium shipping services like 2-Day, & Next Day shipping.

Technical Innovation in Transportation Management:
Within the next decade, material handling systems are expected to be heavily integrated with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics. As many material handling system technologies begin introducing shipping software to interface with pilot programs of autonomous vehicles and/or drones, the automation of shipment planning, routing guides, tracking, and execution begins now in 2017 with the traditional transportation management system (TMS)/platform.

Many Shipping solutions now incorporate robust cartonization technologies for more efficient packing of shipments that more accurately calculate shipping rates & significantly lower transportation costs when a dimensional volume divisor or dimensional weight (DIM) is applied.

A forward thinking supply chain strategy, when applied to the implementation of transportation management solutions, is likely to be heavily rewarded in terms of costs savings and also being well positioned for a rising demand surplus for years to come.

What Should Shippers do?:
Shippers can manage for regulatory compliance, carrier capacity, and upcoming technical innovations in supply chains by closely examining their existing transportation management strategy and advancing their company schedules in order to optimize their transportation by getting everyone involved early in their procurement for a robust shipping solution.

Looking to stay ahead of the Carrier Capacity curve? Schedule your no-obligation, 360° free shipping assessment.

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Retail’s Vicious Implosion? Tips on Shipping Saving Retail

Major retailers are racing to improve their online presence and digital customer experiences to stay relevant among the fierce competition in eCommerce for online shoppers.

When it came to Macy’s and Kohl’s recent decisions to shutter many of their stores, CNBC’s Mad Money host Jim Cramer wondered what the point of their stores’ existence was for.

Macy’s is the third-largest online seller in its categories after Amazon and Wal-Mart, but that doesn’t pay the rent,” Cramer said.

Everyone is too cheap to shop at the mall. It’s just too inconvenient unless you are uber-wealthy and need to see the ultra-luxury wares in person before buying them,” Cramer said.

He attributes most of mall foot traffic to luxury item shoppers looking for higher value items to inspect in person. “They won’t dish $10,000 for a pair of earrings without seeing them in person.” Cramer states.

What major retailers can do to up their digital stakes, is re-examining ways to improve their transportation management in order to better serve their customers. One example is offering a convenient process to manage returns. This provides opportunities to convert lost sales to an equivalent or higher value purchase.

Another few action steps are integrating a wider range of carriers to serve a growing, international customer base, and leveraging regional carriers, many of whom are optimally positioned to serve a particular area and possibly at a lower cost, there’s plenty of ways to build upon your online presence and web store value.

One only needs to look at subscription order models, like Amazon Prime, to see what kind of impact offering expedited shipping options can do to fortify a customer base.

It’s easy to see integrating a multicarrier shipping solution plays a significant role in fulfilling the demands of the “need it now” generation, and these transportation technologies can help bring the shoppers back to retailers’ web store fronts, front and center.


Source: CNBC, please click here to view.

Order Consolidation may help meet Record Holiday Delivery Demand

Even with extended delivery windows, on-time rates fall as record level demand peaks this holiday season

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Major Carriers are straining to keep up with holiday shipping volumes that have blown past expectations, delaying the delivery of some of the millions of online orders shoppers have placed since Thanksgiving.

Already in advance of the busy holiday season, both UPS and FedEx have extended delivery windows for some routes, suspending delivery guarantees and refunds for a brief period.

According to an analysis from a source to the WSJ, on-time delivery rates for UPS ground, adjusted for weather and other unavoidable delays, fell to about 96% last week while FedEx Ground’s hit approximately 97%. That was an improvement from about 95% at both companies on the same week in 2015, though on-time delivery rates usually are higher by at least 4% outside the holiday season.

Parcel carriers’ logistics operations are being tested by the surge in web orders at the holidays, which has grown rapidly over the past several years.

This year, e-commerce accounted for more than 25% of consumer spending on Black Friday and the two days prior, up from 18% last year and nearly double the figure for the same period four years ago, according to First Data Corp. UPS in November said it expected to handle a record of more than 700 million packages between Thanksgiving and the end of December this year, up 14% from last year’s all-time high.

Order consolidation is considered by some as an effective response to limited supply during the peak holiday shipping season. Contact us to learn more about how effective order consolidation within your transportation management strategy can help you meet surging holiday order demand.


*Source: WSJ, to view cited reference,  please click here. 

Key Analysis Exposes the “Want it Now” Shipping Strategies for Holiday Retail

Today’s shoppers take “Free” shipping for granted.

Since the debut of Amazon Prime and other popular online subscription-based eCommerce services, consumers are well acclimated to the idea of low cost expedited and free shipping. A recent 2016 PwC analysis* revealed several key insights for what some would describe as the “Want it Now” culture of today’s consumer, many of whom will be eagerly placing an estimated average of $1,200 towards retail holiday orders.

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What can your business do to stand out in a very competitive retail landscape? Well for one, offering free shipping and free returns is no longer a core differentiator. The analysis found 60% of retailers will provide both free shipping and free returns this holiday season. Unless your business has it’s transportation management under control, it is difficult if not impossible to offer competitive shipping to your end customers.

The study also revealed that consumers have indicated both free shipping and free returns are a “must-have”: more specifically, 90% say free shipping is a very important deciding factor, while 78% want free returns.

Where enterprise retailers have the advantage of their large scale transportation spend when negotiating rates, other mid-size to large companies don’t have to struggle to keep up with rising transportation costs simply because they don’t ship as much. Leveraging a multicarrier shipping solution can benefit their position with a variety of cost-effective solutions, such as incorporating regional carriers in their transportation planning, or allocating transportation spend in other ways to take advantage of order consolidation, drop-ship, ship-from-store, and ship-to-store, to name a few.

With optimal routing and shipment planning, retailers can position their shipping methods at a lower and more affordable cost to their customer base. When you have transportation operating inefficiencies driving up costs, on top of rising general rate increases, it certainly makes it difficult to pass shoppers along free shipping or free returns, especially in emerging market areas where home delivery is the still the most popular option for online shoppers but also comes with a higher cost to serve.

However consumers did indicate an openness to new online order pickup options. 33% of shoppers were willing to try curbside pickup after ordering online: and 17% currently use that option regularly or on occasion. Consumers who do opt for curbside pickup, gain a benefit in shaving a few days off of delivery and may save on their shipping. 28% of potential first-time consumers were open to pickups at a designated location, such as an online order pick up at a FedEx Office or UPS Store, and 17% were open to Buy Online, Pick up In-Store (BOPIS).

Collectively these online order fulfillment models, dubbed “click-and-collect”, will grow as retailers and consumers find their balances between an order’s speed, cost, and convenience as retailers leverage a comprehensive transportation management solution to achieve the most value at the lowest cost.

For those focused in eCommerce, innovating to provide flexible shipping and returns options will help your business stand apart from the crowd.  It stands to reason your business will gain a competitive advantage whenever eCommerce departments implement flexible shipping and returns options with specific attention to their customers’ delivery and returns preferences.

Let us know if you’d like to learn more about effective transportation management this holiday season.


*To view the PricewaterhouseCooper Holiday Report, please click here.