Grocery Store Booze DeliveriesGrocery Store Booze Deliveries

Publix Grocery Wants to Deliver Alcohol to Consumers’ Doorsteps

Mishal Omar

 – Dec 12, 2017
References: wlrn.org

Publix Grocery is looking to offer something new and convenient this holiday season, and decided to do this by taking part in the ever-expanding delivery movement in North America.

Publix Grocery is looking to expand its Publix Liquor Stores, and so offering online orders of alcohol is a significant step in this process. The grocer, based in Lakeland, partnered with Instacart in order to properly form its delivery service. The process itself is simple enough, with consumers deciding what they want to purchase online, entering their birth date and agreeing that they won’t be under the influence upon receiving the beverages. Delivery drivers will check consumers’ IDs before giving them the alcohol, ensuring that the entire process is completely safe and legal.

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Looming ELD Mandate

Supply Chain News: It’s Wait and See on Impact of Looming ELD Mandate

A Variety of Factors Moving Against Shippers as We Head into 2018

Dec. 11, 2017
SCDigest Editorial Staff
At one level, it couldn’t come at a worse time.

The looming Dec. 18 mandate requiring all over the road truck drivers to use an electronic logging device, or ELD, comes when freight volumes are kicking into higher gear, making truckload capacity increasingly tight.

The fear is that that once implemented, the use of ELDs will in effect reduce capacity, frankly by eliminating the ability of carriers or individual drivers to cheat on meeting hours of service (HOS) rules by fudging manual, paper-based logs. Some also believe the requirements will force some carriers to leave the industry.

Such paper logs have literally been around since the 1930s, when federal hours of service rules were first implemented.

Just how large that impact will be is a big unknown. Estimates by various industry pundits have been in the 2-5% range. Most large carriers have been using ELDs for years – it is small and some mid-sized carriers, as well as independent drivers – where the impact will be felt, a group that makes up a large percentage of total industry capacity.

Others say the 2-5% impact range is low, especially on some specific lanes. And it makes intuitive sense that carriers and drivers that have yet to install ELDs are more likely to be those that do cheat on paper logs.

“I think false logs have been an epidemic, from the 1930s until right now, and they’re going to go away,” said John Seidl, a transportation consultant with Integrated Risk Solutions and a former FMCSA investigator, at an industry conference.

Seidl also comment that “Why is this law in place? Because people die when some truck drivers work too hard. They work too hard because they don’t make a lot of money and shippers hold them up and they have to make up for lost time. In my view, the ELD is a godsend for the drivers.”

Derek Leathers, CEO of truckload carrier Werner, recently said that some shippers may find as much as 80% of their freight in some lanes is moving currently on non-ELD compliance carriers, meaning they could see a big impact as the rule is enforced.

The good news for shippers is that enforcement will be phased in. State inspectors will delay placing truckers out of service for failure to have an ELD until April 1, 2018. Instead, inspectors will issue citations to drivers “operating vehicles without a compliant ELD.”That move, announced earlier this summer, alleviated fears that thousands of truckers could be placed out of service for not having ELDs starting immediately on Dec. 18, stranding freight a week before Christmas, which would have sent spot market truckload rates through the roof.

What’s more, in November the FMCSA announced those citations will not count against a trucking company’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability or CSA score, which many shippers use to determine a carrier’s eligibility to carry their freight.

Still, the requirement is coming, and even at the lower ends of the impact estimates it may cause issues given the tight capacity seen in the industry. US GDP grew 3.3% in Q3, the government estimates, driving freight volumes higher.

Total truckload moves in the third quarter set a record with 974,450 shipments, a rise of nearly 12% from the same period a year ago, according to the Transportation Intermediaries Association, an industry group that tracks freight hauling.

That volume is sending rates higher. Spot van and refrigerated freight rates reached three-year highs in November as a monthly average.

The number one factor impacting capacity is the on-going driver shortage. After declining earlier in the year, for example, driver turnover is now up again. Turnover at large truckload fleets rose 5% in the third quarter to a 95% annualized rate, according to American Trucking Associations

John Larkin, noted transportation sector analyst for Wall Street form Stiffel, recently issued a research note in which he said it likely will be “a trucker’s market” in 2018.

In the end, it will be well into 2018 before the impact can really be measured, but there is no question that a variety of trends are moving against shippers as we head into a new year.

Walmart Meal Kits

Walmart has officially jumped on the meal kit bandwagon

Meal kits have become increasingly popular over the past year, with numerous companies getting in on the action. There are meal kits for babies, kits that can help you with the holidays, and many more. Retail giants like Amazon are even starting to get involved. Now, a new retailer has entered the meal kit fray and it’s one of the biggest in the world. Walmart has started offering meal kits on its website.

The retailer isn’t selling Walmart-branded meal kits, which is probably for the best, as Walmart isn’t known for its fine cuisine. Instead, it is partnering with brands such as TakeOut Kit and Home Chef to provide customers with a wide array of options that change on a regular basis. The pricing structure also varies, but appears to be about $30 for most of the kits. Several of them are proportioned for four people, but that also varies depending on which one you order.

The Street reports that the various meal kit companies such as Home Chef or TakeOut Kit are responsible for fulfilling the orders made from Walmart’s website. In exchange for the use of its website, Walmart gets a referral fee and commission.

TakeOut Kit was the first meal kit to be featured on Walmart’s website. It arrived on December 3, and others followed soon after. There are currently about 30 meal kits available for sale on Walmart’s site. This should give consumers plenty of options — TakeOut Kit, for example, is known for showcasing cuisine from different countries around the world, whereas Home Chef focuses more heavily on American-style food.

“This is a low-risk model for Walmart to see if their e-commerce shoppers will have an interest in meal kits, and if so, which ones are the most interesting to them,” Terra’s Kitchen CEO Michael McDevitt said earlier this year. “There’s no infrastructure risk, no marketing risk.”

There is plenty of interest from among Walmart shoppers, as several of the meal kits are already sold out. It remains to be seen how successful this venture will be for Walmart in the long term, however. For now, the company has a winning recipe on its hands.

7 Most Engaged Companies

Retails’ 7 Most Engaged Companies

By Tim Denman – 12/11/2017

Customers have countless shopping options and only those retailers that are able to build meaningful relationships with consumers will enjoy long-term success.

To discover which companies have the most engaging customer experience, Forbes examined hundreds of companies in a cross-industry report for its first annual “50 Most Engaged Companies” ranking.

To develop the 50 Most Engaged Companies List, Forbes ranked the U.S.-based companies from its Forbes Global 2000 list across three equally weighted dimensions: social media engagement, Net Promoter Scores (NPS) and year-over-year sales growth. Forbes Insights partnered with Sprinklr who provided data from the Sprinklr Business Index, which measures and analyzes the breadth of public interactions between brands and consumers across social media. Forbes Insights also partnered with Temkin Group, a customer experience research, consulting, and training firm, who provided data on Net Promoter Scores (NPS) and customer loyalty.

The entire list of the 50 most engaged companies is available here. Below is a quick look at the first seven retailers to appear in the ranking.

Amazon. The online giant was not only the first retailer named in the inaugural list, but also took first place overall. Amazon has reinvented and reimagined what the customer experience is and can be, and is handsomely rewarded with continuously increasing sales numbers and legions of loyal shoppers. Amazon is quite literally the customer engagement standard upon which the rest of retail and industry in general is judged.

Starbucks. The global coffee house chain has always been on-trend with not only its product array but in meeting its customers’ wants and needs. Starbucks has gone all in with its mobile offerings allowing customers to order and pay for their purchases from their mobile device and have their order waiting for them when they arrive. The success of the program has been overwhelming and has forced Starbucks to alter its in-store operations to keep pace with demand.

Footlocker. The athletic shoe and apparel retailer is investing heavily in its digital capabilities to connect with young, digital natives, as its sales continue to slip. While its financial performance has struggled, its customer base is still highly engaged with the brand, evidenced by the retailer’s fourth overall finish in Forbes’ ranking. To further enhance its experience both in-store and out, the retailer is investing in a new e-commerce platform, mobile app platform, and POS technology.

Lowe’s. The home improvement market is booming right how and industry leaders Home Depot and Lowe’s are enjoying steadily increasing sales. Lowe’s is not content to just rest on its laurels and continues to innovate with cutting-edge technology like augmented reality, robotics and mobile capabilities to keep its customers engaged. Currently Lowe’s is focused on supercharging its online platform, adding next-gen functionality like inventory and order visibility. Lowe’s came in ninth overall in Forbes’ ranking.

Nordstrom. While much of the department store market continues to struggle, a successful start to the holiday shopping season has many operators hopeful of a turnaround. Nordstrom saw overall sales increase by 2% in Q3 2017, while store comps declined .9%, evidence of shoppers increased migration to digital channels. To build meaningful, long-term relationships with shoppers Nordstrom has instituted a number of customer engagement initiatives including: 24-hour curbside pickup for the holiday season; reserve online and try-on in-store; pop-in shops; supply chain enhancements, designed to reduce split shipments; and personalized service at its Nordstrom Local locations.

Dollar Tree. When discussing the changing retail landscape the digital revolution gets the lion’s share of the attention, but the ongoing discount craze has been equally disruptive to retailers. And no segment is immune ― from apparel to grocery to department stores shoppers are increasingly turning to the discount model to meet their shopping needs. The Dollar Tree has benefited greatly from the discount trend, with annual sales increasing by 33.7%. The retailer finished in 15th place in Forbes ranking.

eBay. Since its founding over 20 years ago, eBay has been committed to developing an engaging customer experience for both sellers and buyers on its ground-breaking digital auction platform. The retailer has been on the cutting-edge of a number of trends, including the one-day flash sale. While Amazon, gets plenty of well-deserved attention for its annual Prime Day event, eBay has been producing a similar annual event for 10 years. The retailer’s Green Monday, celebrated on the second Monday of December for a decade, is one of its busiest days of the year and provides shoppers deep discounts on a wide array of products. eBay finished in 25th place overall in Forbes’ report.

Shipping Costs are Surging Globally

Shipping Costs are Surging Globally

kees torn/Flickr

The cost of moving pretty much every dry-bulk commodity — from fertilizer to salt to rocks — has surged since July, lifting the London-based Baltic Exchange’s main freight gauge to its highest in almost four years. The rally has been fired by China’s insatiable demand for coal and iron ore, more than tripling rates for giant Capesize ships that dominate both trades.

With the surge driving up shipping rate across the board, that’s bad news for agricultural traders already contending with the biggest supply gluts in years: they’re having to pay more to transport crops at a time when they can least afford it.

RELATED: A caution from the world’s biggest shipping line

“Demand for Capesize vessels in the Pacific has been very brisk, partly due to China,” said Alexander Karavaytsev, an economist at the International Grains Council. There’s been a “spillover of demand” for smaller ships — so-called Panamaxes, Supramaxes and Handysizes that are also used for grains — because the availability of larger carriers is also restricted in the Atlantic Ocean, he said.

Commodity shipping markets, having gone through a nadir of their own, are now starting to rebound thanks to flows of iron ore and coal that will expand this year by the most in tonnage terms since 2014. That’s at a time when a fleet expansion has slowed dramatically.

RELATED: Shipping billionaires are in a high seas ‘arms race’

Order books for dry-bulk shipping, tankers and container fleets are at very low levels by historic standards, Hartland Shipping Services said in a report, citing data from Clarkson Research. Order books for dry bulk stand at 8.2% of existing fleet. The last time it was below 10% was in October 2002, two years after which the industry had its biggest boom ever.

The Baltic Dry Index, an overall measure of the Baltic Exchange’s key dry-commodity routes, averaged 1,127 points so far in 2017, on course for its best year in four.

The surge has been led by China. Global trade in iron ore and coal will jump by 5.3% to a combined 2.69 billion metric tons of this year about half the cargoes heading to the Asian country, according to data from Clarkson Research Services Ltd., part of the world’s biggest shipbroker. With the fleet of Capesizes expanding by just 3.2%, that’s lifted vessel use — and rates — for all vessel classes, right down to smallest.

Agricultural traders are finding it harder to stomach the rising freight bill because prices for crops are being undermined by oversupply. World grain stockpiles for this season are forecast to rise for a fifth straight year to a record of about 726 million metric tons, according to the most recent data from the United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organization. That surpasses last year’s record and is 7 million tons higher than the prior month’s forecast.

As far as the shipping market is concerned, agricultural trade is dwarfed by the heavy industry bulwarks. Grains and oilseeds make up less than 10% of all dry-bulk cargoes whereas coal and iron ore account for about half.

ABCD Pain

The oversupply of crops has helped push the Bloomberg Agriculture Subindex down about two-thirds from its peak set two decades ago. The measure is on course for its lowest annual average since at least 1991. Even agricultural giants, dominated by the “ABCD” quartet of Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., Bunge Ltd., Cargill Inc. and Louis Dreyfus Co., haven’t been immune.

At least 40 senior managers and executives in agriculture left their positions at trading houses such as ADM and Louis Dreyfus this year. ADM announced job cuts in July after disappointing earnings and a loss at its international trading operation. Bunge has announced a $250 million cost cutting program, while Louis Dreyfus and Cargill have sold assets amid challenging market conditions.

Freight isn’t helping their cause as it becomes a growing portion of exported cereal prices. This year, shipping costs will account for 11% of the average price on trades tracked by the International Grains Council. That’s the highest in seven years and compares with 8.5% in 2016.

With exporters’ margins being negatively impacted, those located farther from their buyers will see their competitiveness wane, Rabobank International said in report.

“Some buyers are becoming more price sensitive and adapting by shifting their grain sourcing to origin countries offering cheaper transportation,” said Karavaytsev of the IGC.

Meanwhile things look relatively good for miners, who’ve mostly managed to pass on the higher freight bills to their customers. Global steel production rose to a record 145.3 million tons in October, according to the latest data from the World Steel Association, with almost half of it being made in China. Iron ore rallied back into a bull market last week as China’s curbs on pollution force buyers to chase high-grade ore from overseas.

Trickle Down

Shipments of the steelmaking raw material will total 317.6 million tons this quarter, the second busiest three-month period since at least the start of 2015, according to a forecast from Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd. On an annual basis, they’ll be a record, according to Clarkson.

While grain trade is up too, a surplus of cereals like wheat and corn means exporters can’t pass on the cost of freight in the same way as miners can.

“As Capesize rates hit new highs, there is going to be a trickle down effect on smaller size ships and an impact on grain shippers,” said Oscar Tjakra, senior analyst for grains and oilseeds at Rabobank in Singapore. “Margins of ABCDs are very low right now and they will have to compete by exporting to nearer destinations.”

How to Turn Your Brand Into One of the Most Recognized in the World

How to Turn Your Brand Into One of the Most Recognized in the World
Big-time record producers know how to make a hit: by meticulous comparison to the greats. Do the same for your brand.
CREDIT: Getty Images

Ask any business operator if they’re happy with their brand identity. Most stakeholders respond with some level of angst over missing brand elements, holes to be filled, next generation overdue or countless other misfires. Branding means different things to each person. To me, it means credible identity visible to potential customers.

Brand evolution ideally rolls from wonderful to brilliant. Some companies lack essential brand solidity, greatly hampering brand advancement. No matter where your company exists on the invisible-to-stunning brand spectrum, the following two simple action steps can drive greater brand bang and visibility:

1. Compare yourself against the best.

I’m going to talk about musicians here. Bear with me.

Musicians learn early that it’s important to be realistic about the quality of a record. Back in the day, I was an accomplished recording engineer. For a song’s mix, I’d pour over great CDs, tapes, and records. The goal was to compare my song’s mix with a best-in-class famous track–for oft-brutal comparisons.

Fleetwood Mac and The Cure had millions of dollars to make a perfect album. I had a small studio. Comparisons were painful.

Still, with hard work, I could get the sound close: match the general tone of Aerosmith’s bass, mostly recreate Boston’s snare drum EQ, or figure out Prince’s vocal reverb. At the end of the laborious mixing process, differences between my track and a track from Rush were evident only to other professionals and refined listeners.

Try a similar approach for your brand. Identify top companies in the same industry for comparison. If you’re an innovator and believe there are no similar brands, find the closest comparison. Be sure to compare against the best.

Assess websites, social profiles, shopping cart, and order forms. Fearlessly rank your iOS, Android, and webapps. Ruthlessly grade all your brand elements.

Mercilessly examine the value of your products or services. Compare design, style and voice. Use free or low-cost search marketing intelligence tools–like SpyFu or SEMRush–to understand free and paid traffic to your website and competitors.

You’ll gain insights not available in Google Analytics for your own site, along with tons of data about competitors. Start a spreadsheet contrasting your brand to best in the world. Review and revise it often. Such an endeavor should be an ongoing, disciplined exercise.

2. Appear to play in the same league.

In business, actually competing is sometimes scarcely different than appearing to compete. Remember, state-of-the-art is what we do with the resources at hand. Some essential elements can be ticked off, usually for a reasonable cost.

If your value propositions suck compared to those of your competitors, the conversation may be over. You can’t wrap a turd in a bow and sell it more than once. Reevaluation may be in order. Brand dazzle can’t cover crap.

You’ll probably find that your value stories are great, mostly on par, a mixed bag, or slightly behind competitors. Great! Growing your brand can help.

Just call reality what it is. Don’t be narcissistic about a mediocre product–more common than you think. Branding will help you appear to play in the same league.

The comparison exercise may unveil style gaps (design, images, voice). Designers cost money, so seek cost-appropriate options. If your website sucks, consider fixing high traffic pages with killer design first. Install WordPress on your domain and use the Yoast SEO plugin and other low-cost plugins that can quickly boost other functionality.

You may discover competitors are crushing you at social media. Easy-to-use automation tools like IFTTT can auto-post content from your blog, complementary sites and publications. Automation can help you catch–or pass competitors in social.

Driving keyword traffic from Google and other search engines is essential, and many brands are still trying to get to square one. If SpyFu or SEMRush tell you Google isn’t sending traffic based on your most important sales keywords, potential customers won’t find you. It’s as simple as that.

You might not be well versed in search engine optimization (SEO). If that’s the case, get help right now. There are two relatively easy do-it-yourself ways to get sales-focused free search traffic through basic SEO:

  • Fix technical issues, such as broken links, bad metadata and other variables.
  • Revise your web content to better reflect the words that define your authority on themes and topics. It’s crucial to effectively incorporate the words people use when searching for your product.

Still, free search traffic isn’t sustainable. Learn AdWords or get outside help.

Comparing yourself to the best can be humbling, but your takeaways will be priceless. Lay it out on a spreadsheet. Be your own toughest critic, element by element. Prioritize fixes based on resources.

Done well, precious few will know the difference between your brand and the best in the world.

Supply Chain Trends

Supply Chain Trends to Watch in 2018

There are several key supply chain trends to watch in 2018.

Supply Chain Trends 2018

Omnichannel Revenue Management

The retail supply chain has been going through a massive transformation. Traditional brick and mortar retailers seek to leverage their stores to better compete against Amazon and other ecommerce retailers. ARC’s Chris Cunnane does an annual survey omnichannel retail in conjunction with DC Velocity.  The main reason retailers invest in expensive omnichannel initiatives is to increase sales, increase market share, and improve customer loyalty.  Meanwhile, most retailers have trouble understanding just what their profitability is surrounding different omnichannel order flow paths.  For example, in my colleague’s latest survey a majority of retailers report they can’t even measure the financial impact of a return.

Driving unprofitable sales makes no sense.  Eventually retailers need to understand their true costs and margin based on the omnichannel flow path.  Will significantly more retailers begin tackling this problem this year?  We don’t know; that will be the focus of Chris’s next survey on this topic.  Further, if companies can measure their profitability, what are the best practices that separate more profitable retailers from less profitable ones? Solutions certainly exist in this area, but Chris’s research will also focus on process and people issues. Meanwhile B2B companies also need to improve their multichannel capabilities.

Logistics Workers, Labor Shortages, and Automation

The industry continues to discuss the driver shortage.  Basic economics tells us that if you raise wages, you will attract new drivers to the industry.  Not surprisingly, carriers remain reluctant to embrace that tactic. There continues to be discussion about whether autonomous vehicles could be a solution to the shortage.  They won’t be; at least not any time soon.  The technology challenges in getting to a fully autonomous truck are daunting. Because autonomous vehicles won’t happen soon, carriers need to take aggressive actions to lure new drivers into the industry and recruit and retain existing drivers.  Further, shippers and carriers can reduce empty miles, and thus reduce the need for drivers, by using transportation management and transportation network design solutions.

There has been less public discussion about looming labor shortages in warehousing. The amount of picking, because of omnichannel and ecommerce, has increased the need for warehouse workers.  But it is not a desirable job despite paying about $15 per hour on average. Logistics service providers are actively exploring the use of autonomous mobile robots to meet the labor shortage.  The economics, when bots are sold in a Robot as a Service (RaaS), make this form of automation a viable alternative to people. Expect booming sales in this market over the next few years.  ARC will be discussing autonomous mobile robots in some detail at ARC’s Annual Industry Forum in February in Orlando.  Please join us!

Tariffs and Global Supply Chain Networks

The move to install tariffs and bring more production back to America has gone much more slowly than I expected following the election of Donald Trump.  I have to admit that Frank McGuigan, the President and COO of Transplace, was much more prescient than I. Transplace is a leading provider cross-border intermodal services throughout North America. He better understood how slowly politics often moves and how significant a trading partner Mexico is for the U.S.  Similarly, the UK/European Brexit negotiations have moved at a glacial pace.

Jim Preuninger, the CEO at Amber Road, points out that in times of agrees that scenario analysis is critical.  Amber Road is a leading supplier of global trade management.  “In times of uncertainty, scenario building and analysis can be done preemptively to provide more time to fully understand, design, and implement needed changes.  Multinational companies design their supply chains taking into consideration many factors, including fully landed costs, regulatory issues – including tariffs, lead times, and supplier quality and reliability.”

I reached out to Toby Brzoznowski, a cofounder and executive vice president at LLamasoft, on this topic.  LLamasoft is a leading provider of supply chain design software.  I asked him whether there was any evidence that multinationals were preemptively redesigning their supply chain networks – before the tariffs go into place – in the belief that eventually the costs of having manufacturing nodes in Mexico or China will go up significantly.  For example, maybe costs to manufacture in Indonesia are slightly higher, but the fear of Chinese tariffs tips the balance and manufacturers move their facilities from China to Indonesia.

Mr. Brzoznowski replied that “Day One after the elections, I heard of multiple companies that had put analysis projects in place to run landed-cost scenarios for a wide range of potential tariff increases, or changes to trade agreements.  However, as you said, things have not moved quickly, and it seems at this point that companies now have their contingencies mapped out but are sitting and waiting to see what happens.”

If significant new tariffs emerge, supply chain networks will change greatly. But politics in the US remain tumultuous. If the Trump administration does not impose new tariffs this year, it may not happen. The US House of Representatives could be taken over by Democrats in 2018; there is even a chance Trump could be impeached if the House goes Democrat. So, this remains an important trend to monitor, but whether tariffs will increase remains very difficult to predict.

The Hype Surrounding Digital Technologies Will Continue

Emerging technologies such as blockchain, 3D printing, autonomous mobile robots, IoT, machine learning, and related technologies continue to get a tremendous of amount of publicity. These technologies are being lumped together as “Digital” technologies, although the logic for that grouping – beyond the fact that they are all interesting, emerging technologies – is unclear. But these technologies are at very different points on the supply chain maturity curve. As previously mentioned, autonomous mobile robots are rapidly approaching maturity.  Blockchain is at the bottom of the maturity curve. ARC will continue to assess and report on the maturity of these technologies.