Not everybody is sitting around waiting for the Amazon DRONE to win the war.
But in the meantime they have lots of folks who are not very happy with Amazon .Start with publisher Hachette, who claims the retailer charges more for its e-books than it should, or refuses to ship non-virtual copies in a timely fashion. There’s also its shareholders, who are miffed that Amazon’s earnings weren’t as strong as they’d hoped for in the second quarter. Read lots more horror stories like class action suits.
Riding to the rescue is Webgistix, which was founded in 2001 by Joseph DiSorbo, and was acqiured last year by Japan’s own e-commerce giant Rakuten. That company competes directly with Amazon for online sales and product fulfillment. Rakuten uses Webgistix for North American logistics, which includes everything from supply chain management to to freight oversight, and has recently launched its own two-day delivery service.
Webgististix claims to offer an alternative to Amazon’s hyper-competitive environment. And that appeals to some online retailers.
Logistics and fulfillment are a complicated part of e-commerce. They involve everything from storing and locating items to figuring out the most expedient method for shipping them, as well as providing merchants with actionable information about the selling and shipping process.
The Webgististix network of centrally located fulfillment centers makes it easy to get your orders delivered to your buyers as fast as possible. Our fulfillment centers include:
Fast and economical shipping using SmartShip a proprietary shipping analysis that gives you an inventory placement map based on your buyers and the Webgistix nationwide network of fulfillment centers.
Real time views into inventory at multiple locations and stock replenishment levels using SmartStock technology and services that streamline inbound inventory processes.
Tours are Available for qualified prospective clients. Hey does Amazon give tours?
Webgistix’ personal client support is what distinguishes us from other order fulfillment providers.
With a bare-essentials service there’s no client support to speak of…
With a bigger service you’re just one name in ten thousand…
But when you become a Webgistix client, you are assigned a personal support representative based in the same facility that you store your products. Most of our clients end up knowing their representatives by first name and in fact, consider them an integral part of their own team.
Is a Supply Chain Management Control Tower the only way to go? What issues are not yet solved with our current thoughts on SCM Control Towers? Are we looking at some type of a “Commercial Network” instead; or are looking at “SCM Control Tower 2?” In any event, there is a requirement for further automation of the process.
What are some of the drawbacks with our current implementation strategy?
The “network” that is required for visibility sometimes requires lower-tier suppliers, public warehouses, wholesalers, etc. to “log in” to several different networks (one for each “important” SCM Control Tower they deal with. We need a simple, reusable network approach to bring everyone into the tower. The solution lies in B2B Networks (VAN2). Extremely time critical communications could be accomplished by “texting” selected members of the Control Tower community, then following up with an EDI message.
Is there too much dependence on humans making decisions? Cannot some of the decisions being made be better automated? Can’t we use “decision support” technology to build automated responses at the back end of system?
The SCM Control Tower is all about having visibility throughout the supply chain. But if there is total visibility and no ability to make decisions, then it is not a control tower. To be a decision maker, you will need to run “what if” scenarios: forecast and recalculate the entire inventory if “your ship doesn’t come in” (something that literally could happen). To be able to calculate effects of events, it will require a LOT of data. Hence, we need to introduce BIG DATA to our Control Tower.
The Control Tower needs high quality data from both internal and external sources. With a global supply chain, a company is more vulnerable than ever. Suppliers are also vulnerable on the land, sea and air. Issues arise from political events, weather, security and health issues. The possibilities are almost endless. Yes, you can monitor news channels, weather forecasts, police radios; but it could be overwhelming. The answer is to automate the gathering process, then use data analysis to highlight YOUR hot spots. RSS FEEDS are increasingly available, even from local police departments (well, the “police blotter” is now electronic and applications are available to attach grid coordinates to almost anything). Even weather data can get more accurate by folding in the thousands of “backyard” weather stations that have become more popular. These little guys can provide METAR feeds. See how many are in your area at Wunderground. All this increased data (BIG DATA) will overwhelm you without analytic capabilities. Simplified, you have to automatically “sift” through it, pull out what applies (YOUR parameters), and utilize it (maybe “post” to your “trouble map”).
We have been talking a lot about Supply Chain Management Control Towers. Yes, transportation (usually under logistics) is included in the control tower. In many companies, transportation is outsourced to a 3PL, 4PL or 5PL provider. This provider is an expert at hooking your company up to any required transportation resources. Your provider already has some excellent tools available. A popular concept since the 1990’s has been the “Load Control Center” (LCC). We are looking at outsourcing, but yes, excellent software is available if you do it yourself.
Transportation has always been an opportunity to centralize and get some benefits. 3M started the concept of Load Control Centers(LCC) and lots of others followed suit. The LCC is simply centralization of transportation planning and execution. Benefits include:
better pricing from centralized transportation sourcing
development of standardized operating procedures
fewer planners than in several separate operations
ability to combine more shipments and loads because of greater visibility
electronic integration with carriers
Because most companies do not have a lot of the required skill sets, outsourcing brings a lot to the table. But there are some good choices available:
1) Outsource whole thing: Business Process Outsourcing (BPO). Company manages strategically while BPO manages tactically.
2) Outsource with intent to bring back in home.
3) Use consultants in an advisory role.
One of drawbacks of the LCC was building a complete network of electronically-connected trading partners. A lot of time and effort was spent in connecting trading partners. Very difficult connecting partners who, at that time, saw no benefit in the Internet. Any LCC had numerous holes in its visibility. That meant the customer could not completely trust the results. The LCC had to take a fall-back decision to not managing anything but fleet carriers and rail. They had big troubles with small carriers and anything international.
The most famous bicycle race of all is celebrating it’s 100th Anniversary in 2013. It is much more complex than just a race: it includes an advertising caravan (parade) and a tent carnival. But there is a tremendous effort behind the scenes to make it all happen. From a logistics standpoint, it ranks up there with an army fighting a war or a circus traveling around the country.
The actual race is run by 22 teams of 8 or 9 bicyclists each.That means about 200 participants; but the actual “show” involves about 4,500 people.
The advertising caravan (goes ahead of race and distributes advertising “gifts” like hats, candy, etc consists of 180 vehicles representing 44 companies, but the number of “official” vehicles (team cars, scorers, et al) may be 10 times that. Then you have “suppliers”. Vittel Water seemed to have several tractor-trailers to capitalize on being the official supplier. Going back into history, preceding the race was more attractive to advertisers because spectators gathered by the road long before the race or could be attracted from their houses. Advertisers following the race found that many who had watched the race had already gone home. The advertisers distribute publicity material to the crowd. The number of items has been estimated at 11 million, each person in the procession giving out 3,000 to 5,000 items a day.
The tent carnival (I like to call it a “vendor village”) moves as the Tour moves: tents up, tents down, crowds in, crowds out. Norbert Dentressangle has been the Tour’s official partner for more than 30 years, transporting all the facilities and equipment required to set up the start and finish villages at each stage, along with ancillary items including safety barriers and advertising hoardings. The company also transports all the equipment needed to organize each stage at different points along the route, such as intermediate sprints and arrival at a pass. In total 22 tons of equipment is transported from stage to stage in support of the event. A fleet of 20 Norbert Dentressangle trucks and trailers and a team of 33 drivers will be accompanying the riders along the way to the finish line in the Champs Elysee in Paris.
Businesses must put more effort into pre-planning for business interruption according to a survey by Zurich Insurance and the Business Continuity Institute (BCI). They are concerned about supply chain disruption and term it a “blind spot”. We are concerned too. Zurich recommends mapping out your supply chain and quantifying each supplier by financial stability, geopolitical issues, et al. If you have a lot of global suppliers, this could be a tall order. I think Zurich is sitting in an “ivory tower” and not a “SCM Control Tower“.
So we started to look at other ways to assess risk and found Dr. David Simchi-Levi of MIT. Dr. Simchi-Levi has developed what he calls a Risk Exposure Index™
Dr Simchi-Levi takes the approach of understanding the nature of various risks, quantifying the supply chain risk and finally by addressing these risks through supplier segmentation. Risks range from the controllable execution problems or “known-unknown” to the uncontrollable natural disasters called “unknown-unknown” (which he refers to as “black swans“).
CargoCap is the fifth transportation alternative to the conventional systems of road, rail, air and water. It is a safe and economical way to carry goods quickly and on time in congested urban areas by underground transportation pipelines.
This innovative concept is a joint project of the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia and the Ruhr University of Bochum. The proposed underground transportation uses individual, intelligent vehicles called Caps. The system is independent of above ground traffic congestion and weather conditions. Each Cap is designed for the transportation of two euro-pallets (the European standard for pallets) and travels through pipelines with a diameter of about 6 and a half feet.
It is not just a “futures” problem they are trying to solve. About 10% of Germany’s highways are at or above capacity with traffic jams costing the economy around 130 billion dollars a year. Bearing the brunt are parts suppliers, raw materials suppliers and finished goods customers. Then there is the impact on the ecology: petroleum consumption, noise (cities as well as highways), pollution, accidents, demand for land.
Water, gas, electricity, cable TV and even building heat travel underground in the city. Why not refrigerators, car parts, bottles, etc rolling along at about 22 mph to factories and stores?
CargoCap is a computer-controlled transport system of the future: environment-friendly, fast, flexible and competitive. Customers and companies get their goods delivered on time. Deliveries could be between single business sites (workbench to workbench) or between warehouses and sales locations. In supply chain terminology, it could be called the optimization between e-commerce and logistics.
Taking some ideas and attitudes that have been around for a while I developed this document for a 3PL logistics provider in Zimbabwe. It really applies to any company who ships or any company who hires a 3PL to ship for them. With everything going on in Supply Chain Management (control towers, etc) and the “Omni-Channel Revolution” underway, we can at least make our shipping process more effective.
In 2012, I wrote about the end delivery process in drop shipping. Next, my target was to walk back up the chain and find a company that was manufacturing something then shipping it.
I searched for someone to interview who is involved with drop shipping from a manufacturing standpoint. In return for providing me with answers to some of their business processes, I offered some free publicity. Some of the questions about the sophistication of the business processes I hoped to get answered:
Are any of your contracts executed electronically? In other words, does customer send you an electronic purchase order or is done verbally/FAX? If electronic, how is it done? EDI? Other? Is either a shipping advice or payment done electronically? How do you communicate with your factories? Voice, FAX, email, or some type of electronic file sharing over Internet? Now, how do you ship? I need some type of introduction to your vendor, customs broker, shipping company. What type of electronic interface do you have with them?
Instead of getting a manufacturer, I got a third-party logistics provider. Sort of like going fishing for trout and catching a bass instead. So his responses to my questions were:
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