Retail By The App

Retail drives a big portion of the EDI traffic along the supply chain. Whether it’s online retail or brick and mortar retail, the issues are the same. But let’s face it… sometimes it’s just easier to find the product you’re looking for by using a search engine online rather than wandering aimlessly through the aisles of a big box store. Increasingly, retailers are supplementing the in-store experience with apps on shoppers’ mobile devices.
There is an increasing number of apps that are being used to guide shoppers to the right shelf in the right aisle based on their shopping needs. Some use a traditional search function combined with turn-by-turn walking navigation to guide buyers. More advanced apps combine this basic search with additional prompts like “More like this” and others go farther by suggesting personalized recommendations similar to how and Netflix use buying history to find items you might be interested in buying.

But all these advances depend on very rich item information combined with accurate item location and inventory statistics. The retailer is responsible for the location and inventory data, but shouldn’t the product supplier be responsible for providing item information? Certainly there are plenty of options for product catalog systems that integrate with supplier updates but there is still a lack of standardization in the X12 spec.

The recent update of the spec provides a raft of new and updated attributes, but they only address the apparel items. What is left out is… well, pretty much every other hard goods category. Everything from computer products to microwaves are unaddressed. Is this because there are no hard goods advocates on the X12 committee that is working on product attributes, or is it just because the apparel segment had been around longer and are able to get their agenda pushed ahead of the pack?


Amazon’s NVOCC status opens door to new business, cheaper rates

Could Amazon’s business of reselling goods produced by Chinese manufacturers allow it to create a profitable niche in transporting those goods into the U.S. and possibly other markets? Some believe that is the reason the giant online retailer is the newest NVOCC in the trans-Pacific.

Amazon’s newly achieved non-vessel-operating common carrier status opens the e-commerce giant to tap a potentially highly profitable revenue stream by providing ocean shipping services to its Chinese vendors and increase its buying power with container lines.

For example, if Amazon buys a 40-foot container space from China to the West Coast for $1,000, it can sell each cubic meter of the roughly 60 cubic meters of space for $50, allowing it to make a roughly $2,000 profit on transport services for its Chinese vendors, which supply about 90 percent of the goods sold on its website, Steve Ferreira, founder of Ocean Audit, a Connecticut-based global ocean freight auditing service, told The average spot rate to ship an FEU from Shanghai to the West Coast is $1,377, according to a Jan. 22 reading of the Shanghai Containerized Freight Index, as displayed on the Market Data Hub

“A larger percentage of (Amazon’s) Chinese shippers are sending small amounts of freight,” he said “The most striking thing is Amazon’s ability to co-op a lot of smaller Chinese vendors and make one huge vendor”

There’s another roughly $50 to $70 in related fees, from handling to bill documentation charges, which Amazon can add to each shipment, allowing the company to “double-dip on the revenue stream,” he said. Amazon could charge small Chinese shippers $10 to $15 less per cublic meter of cargo compared to the current market levels.

Those cost estimates don’t take into account a variety of charges, including loading charges in Asia, and U.S. and Asia drayage costs, Amazon would be hit with, said Bill Woods Jr., managing director and founder of America’s Sales Agency, a Rhode Island-based logistics consulting firm. When calculating those charges, Amazon’s profit on a FEU move it bought for $1,000 would be about $750, he said.

By either giving Chinese shippers container pricing at cost or more, Amazon can also improve its ability to get better rates from carriers since it will be purchasing more vessel space, Ferreira said. To gain greater purchasing power in the short-term, Amazon could give its vendors ocean shipping at cost for the first year and then charge more once they’ve become used to using Amazon as their ocean transportation provider.

The recently granted NVOCC license from the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission to Amazon’s Beijing-based subsidiary, Beijing Century JOYO Courier Service Co., sent ripples through the estimated $350 million forwarding industry and reignited speculation that Amazon is working to reduce its dependence on parcel giants such as FedEx and UPS. The license, first noted by Flexport, a San Francisco-based logistics start-up, is the latest sign of how Amazon is taking a more active role in transporting its own freight, after it purchased thousands of trailers for U.S. delivery and reports suggest it’s considering handling some its own air cargo.

Tips For A Successful EDI Implementation

Our guest wanted to ask (this  EDI Group), if anyone had a contact at Home Depot who could assist me in getting connected to Home Depot via either AS2 or FTP.
Since moving their EDI Support to India, the “support” portion seems to have been lost. It is next to impossible to get anything resolved and.  Our company has been trading with Home Depot for years, but our volume has exploded and the VAN costs are through the roof.  It is my understanding that while there EDI support was still here in the good ol’ USA, Home Depot did AS2.  However, when I try to communicate to HD India about switching to AS2 or FTP, I am told that because we are a “new supplier” we cannot.  I have tried to explain on several occasions that we are a long established supplier.  Then I get the reply “well, you are new to AS2” therefore you cannot do AS2.  How is that?  You can only do AS2 if you do AS2, but you cannot do AS2 if you are not doing AS2.  How does one break into this “elite club”?
One member of the support group responded as follows:
I think at this point you need to “think outside the IT/Tech Support box” and contact someone at Home Depot headquarters.

You surely have a sales rep who surely has at least one buyer/purchasing agent contact. You could start there.

But my favorite technique is to call the main switchboard and press whatever number you need to press to reach a live human.
Explain your problem (in English, not in Geek!) and in your case you might use words like “unresponsive” or “unavailable” or even
“complaint” somewhere in your explanation. (These are good sympathy/action words).

The switchboard person will get you to someone, but be prepared to explain your problem again because that first transfer may not
be the exact person you need.

You will eventually get connected to the party you need, or that party’s boss. Either works for you, except if you get the boss,
it’s going to be your party calling YOU after a brief “discussion” with that boss.

Another member responded as follows:
Email b2b_testing @ subject line should be something like this “VENDOR #### Ready for AS2 Testing” in the email body put in your vendor number and your AS2 information (AS2 ID, URL and etc)
Tell them you are ready to start on-boarding / testing (playing dumb as worked for me in the past as well)
Then follow up with a phone call contact the B2B/EDI help desk at 770-433-8211 x10036, option 3,3.
If you get a rejection – send the rejection to your sales rep have him forwarded it to the buyer – sales reps are sometimes afraid to contact their buyers and ask them questions, but your sales rep can complain about the cost of EDI and use it as leverage to negotiate prices or something —- this has also worked for me in the past.

Service On Lexington Avenue line deteriorating, MTA

Service on the No. 5 and 6 trains is deteriorating, an MTA official warned on Monday during a board committee meeting.

The two trains only meet the MTA’s wait standards 66% percent of the time on weekdays, data shows. Transit officials say an excessive wait is more than 25% beyond what was scheduled.

On weekdays, the No. 5 was only on-time 40.4% of the time, and the No. 6 was at 46.5%, according to MTA data. The performance drops were 4 percentage points and almost 10 percentage points respectively.

Challenged about the late trains by board member Charles Moerdler, MTA officials said the Lexington Avenue subway corridor saw a great deal of ridership growth. They said they focus on wait standards, not on-time performance.

“The 4, 5, and 6, is a very intense line,” said Peter Cafiero, chief of operations planning, about the No. 6 train, which has also been challenged by higher ridership and construction work.

MTA officials also said they are changing No. 6 train schedules to make them more accurate, which frustrated Moerdler.

“Just changing the schedule doesn’t get the train to the station any earlier, it just masks the problem,” he said.

No, The Old Manufacturing Jobs Don’t Exist Anymore

Great take on manufacturing!

The Arts Mechanical

This article starts off with an image of an auto plant, circa 1919 or so.

The fact is that the US doesn’t make thing the way thing were made in 1919, or for that matter in 1990.  Or the way the Chinese do things, which is to dump thousands of people on a problem.  So there’s no way that you could make an IPhone the way Foxconn does.

My answer to that is, “why would you want to?”

I did a post about a shop that makes parts without shutting down at night last February.

This is the result of almost two centuries in manufacturing technology advancement.

Here’s John Ratzenberger on a visit to the Arthur G Russell Bodine plant in Bridgeport.

The IPhone is fairly simple and does anybody believe that the company that makes lines like this couldn’t make a line for them if that’s what…

View original post 497 more words

As anniversary of train tragedy nears, MTA focuses on grade crossings

Early in 2016, roughly a year after a Metro-North train struck a Mercedes SUV and derailed, killing the driver and five passengers, the MTA plans to assess the hundreds of crossings where rail meets road.

“Whenever you have an incident of that nature, that visibility and that impact on lives, the loss of life, you do an awful lot of inner-looking,” said MTA chairman Tom Prendergast, at the authority’s monthly board meeting. “And so, grade crossings are a high priority for us.”

There are 437 places in the New York metropolitan area where cars cross Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road tracks. The MTA, via a contractor, already is analyzing 25 of them.

“The initial sampling showed that surveying them closely was helpful, so we’ll do all of them,”

It was on Feb. 3, at one such crossing in Valhalla in Westchester County, that a commuter train crashed into a car on the tracks. In addition to the six deaths, more than dozen people were injured, some gravely.

The National Transportation Safety Board took over the investigation.

On Wednesday, the board released more than 1,100 documents related to the ongoing investigation. The board’s final analysis of the accident hasn’t been released yet.

But the docket contained details about the horror on the train in those minutes after it struck the car.

One unnamed passenger in the front car was playing solitaire on his or her phone when the rumbling began, and the third rail penetrated the right side of the car, hitting another rider on the forehead and killing him instantly.

Sparks flew as the third rail tore through the train.

As the solitaire player made for the exit, he or she saw a body cut in half in the aisle.

“A man adjacent to that rail jumped up and his clothing immediately burst into flames,” William Marshall, a passenger, told the investigators via email.

He threw his coat to the floor and tried stamp out the flames.

Passengers trying to escape to the second car discovered the door was jammed. Others tried to push open the windows but struggled to do so.

Eventually two riders managed to open the right side window. They escaped the train and helped others climb out.

As they stood in the snow outside of the carriage, passengers described the SUV engulfed in flames. Fearing an explosion as the train began to catch fire, some of the approximately 20 passengers in the first car began to wander towards the neighboring cemetery.

A group of riders carried a man who’d lost his left leg below the knee.

The Valhalla accident was the deadliest in Metro-North’s history, and one of a series of deadly incidents, including a derailment in Spuyten Duyvil, that has come to mar the once-sterling reputation of the MTA railroad.

The MTA has since intensified its focus on safety.