All Third Party Logistics Providers Are Not Created Equal

ALL 3PL Not Equal
My initial involvement in the Third Party Logistics business was early in 1993 when I became the first Director of Development for Tibbett & Britten Group in North America. Over the next several years the TBG business grew from 20,000 square feet of facilities in Canada to more than 20 million square feet across North America with annual revenues of over $2 Billion. Continue reading

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XPO Logistics (XPO) to Acquire Con-way (CNW)


GREENWICH, Conn. and ANN ARBOR, Mich. – September 9, 2015 – XPO Logistics, Inc. (“XPO Logistics” or “XPO”) (NYSE: XPO) and Con-way Inc. (“Con-way”) (NYSE: CNW) today announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement for XPO Logistics to acquire Con-way. The transaction will enhance XPO’s range of supply chain solutions by making XPO the second largest less-than-truckload (LTL) provider in North America, and will expand the company’s global contract logistics platform. XPO will also capitalize on synergies from the combination with Con-way’s managed transportation, truckload and freight brokerage businesses.

Headquartered in Ann Arbor, Mich., Con-way is a Fortune 500 company with a transportation and logistics network of 582 locations and approximately 30,000 employees serving over 36,000 customers. For the full year 2015, consensus analysts’ estimates for Con-way are $5.7 billion of revenue and $528 million of adjusted EBITDA. The transaction is expected to be substantially accretive to XPO’s earnings in the first 12 months.

All of the acquired operations – Con-way Freight, Menlo Logistics, Con-way Truckload and Con-way Multimodal – will be rebranded as XPO Logistics. Continue reading

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The Seven S’s of Supply Chain Management

SevenSsOfSCMDisruption is all around us and in order to capture some of the key disruptors in the Supply Chain space we have identified what we’re calling the Seven S’s of supply chain management to act as the framework for our upcoming supply chain management work

Without further ado, the seven S’s of SCM are Synergy, Standards, Semantic, Serialization, Synchronization, Sustainability and Social and we will now review each of these at a summary level so you can see where we’re headed. Continue reading

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Great News in Canadian Retail Just Keeps on Coming!

Over the past year, like many others working within the Retail Industry in Canada, I’ve grown tired of hearing about all the bad news relative to retailers pulling out, closing down or shrinking their store counts here in Canada.

Other than one major ‘faux pas’ by a discount retailer which doesn’t need to be named yet again, the majority of recent store closures have actually been retailers dealing with unprofitable stores in their chain. And although painful for the individuals and areas where these actions happen, these steps are often necessary to keep the overall chain healthy in the long term.

The great news, and what we should be focusing on instead of the ‘doom and gloom’ of negative reports, is the growing number of new retail entries into Canada and the ongoing industry extensions taking place over the last year. Continue reading

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Reaching the Supply Chain Sustainability Tipping Point


Since the 1990’s I’ve been writing about sustainability, cap & trade and carbon footprints mainly in the realm of logistics and supply chain as that’s where I live.

Supply chains are incredibly important in this context as roughly 75% of most company’s carbon footprint emanates from their supply chain.

My mantra throughout this time has been ‘when not if’ these measures will be enacted and today I have to say we’re rapidly approaching the tipping point for supply chain sustainability. Continue reading

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Seven Signs Your Retail Business Needs an Omni-channel Makeover


Are your retail customers finding you less attractive lately? Consider your position on the seven signs shared below and you may decide your retail business needs an omni-channel makeover!

This is not just an idle suggestion we’re making as the omni-channel retail buzz is quickly becoming a roar and with good reason.

Not since the advent of price tags, cash registers and the ubiquitous apparel hanger has there been a retail industry innovation poised to create such major change. Continue reading

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Early ‘Internet of Things’ Pilots Proved Supply Chain Benefits of RFID Pallets

RFIDpalletTwo early pilots were facilitated by Supply Chain Network and carried out in 2003 and 2006 with both representing successful demonstrations of the potential supply chain benefits available through ‘Internet of Things’ implementations.

Key to both of these pilots were RFID enabled pallets and the first project was the SCN Grocery Pilot which was carried out utilizing RFID at the pallet level for automated Distribution Centre (DC) receiving.

For the second pilot in the Office Products Industry, a combination of both pallet level and case level RFID was utilized to deliver significant results for both automated Distribution Centre Receiving and automated Direct to Store Delivery receiving. Continue reading

Posted in Definitions, Emerging Trends, Environment, Freight & Transportation, Grocery Logistics, Grocery SCN Project, Information Technology, New Ideas, News & Info, Office Products SCN Project, Professional Communications, Retail E-Commerce, RFID, RFID Information, SCN Projects, Supply Chain Management, Support Services & Industry Initiatives, Top Ten Savings Ideas | Leave a comment

Entering Era of the Endless Store


Those in the know in online retail have been leveraging dropship vendors to create expanded ‘endless aisle’ assortments for a number of years now.

Through the ongoing development of the Matrix Retail approach it’s now become apparent a new reality is emerging best described simply as the ‘Endless Store.’

Just as an ‘endless aisle’ expands assortments well beyond the current store and retailer stocked web assortments, creating the ‘Endless Store’ connects and extends the bricks & mortar and virtual environments within which retailers operate. The potential for dramatically improved customer service and functional development of a unified retail customer experience is now within reach of every retailer. Continue reading

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Exploring the Eight Layers of Matrix Retail

The age of Matrix Retail is already upon us and the only question to ask is will you acknowledge, understand, embrace, engage and tune all of the components of your company’s presence in the retail eco-system?

Or, will you choose to simply ignore them, continue in discrete multi-channel / abomni-channel mode and watch your competitors employ Matrix Retail methods to delight your customers, then dominate, devastate and ultimately destroy your business?

On a more positive note, we hope you opt for the former as the concept of Matrix Retail aims to help you bring about a state of zen awesomeness and retail customer joy as your business prepares to accelerate and break the e-commerce sound barrier.

Depicting something as pervasive and all encompassing as today’s real world digitally enabled retail environment is a tall order (especially for a graphically challenged logistics dude) but the above is my best representation to date of the eight layers of Matrix Retail which need to be enabled, interconnected and then tuned to fully deliver what I call ‘the logistics of customer experience‘. Continue reading

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Matrix Retail: The Logistics of Customer Experience


At a previous NRF Summit I saw a keynote address by Jamie Nordstrom on trends he saw coming in the online retail business. During his talk Jamie said there was a new dynamic emerging, people were describing using words like multi-channel and omni-channel. However in his view these words were not fully capturing the changes he saw coming in retail and a new word was needed, ‘maybe polychannel or something like that’.

After the presentation I had a quick meet and greet with Jamie in which I told him how much his presentation had resonated with me based on my past senior department store retail experience at Hudson’s Bay Company. I then said to him that I think I know the word he was looking for to describe the new dynamic and that was Matrix Commerce. His reaction was immediate and visceral ‘Yes, that’s it! Have you trademarked it?’ Continue reading

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Breaking the E-Commerce Sound Barrier with Matrix Retail!



What was that noise?

Someone just broke the e-commerce sound barrier!

In the third quarter of 2014 Williams-Sonoma’s e-commerce sales represented 51.5% ($587 million) of total company sales overtaking their store sales ($566 million) for the first time! Continue reading

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Sharing Kevin O’Leary’s Omni-Channel Epiphany!

Recently I attended the Retail Council of Canada’s STORE Conference and to be honest when I heard Kevin O’Leary was speaking, all I expected to hear from him was a funny and entertaining talk.

This advance expectation was rapidly confirmed when he started by saying that his CBC co-host Amanda Lang was definitely the best looking communist on television! But little did I know that the balance of his talk would represent one of the most interesting dissertations on omni-channel I’ve heard to date!

So insightful were his comments that I made the extra effort to track down the transcript of his session to share with you all what I’m calling, ‘Kevin O’Leary’s Omni-Channel Epiphany’. Continue reading

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“Plan to Deliver” with JDA: Company Identity Touts Customer Value, Ability to Deliver More Intelligently and Delight Today’s End Consumer

“Plan to deliver” tagline succinctly reinforces JDA’s leading end-to-end solution suites — offering everything from “planning to delivery” for retailers, manufacturers and distributors

SCOTTSDALE, AZ and NEW YORK, NY – October 28, 2014– JDA Software Group, Inc., and Lippincott, a leading global branding firm, today unveiled a new brand identity and logo for JDA featuring an important new tagline for the company: “Plan to deliverTM.”

In today’s rapidly evolving retail and manufacturing markets, it is increasingly important to partner with the best solutions providers to drive sustained competitive advantage. To reflect and address these new market realities, JDA partnered with Lippincott to develop a fresh, modern articulation of JDA’s leading market position. Encapsulating JDA’s superior expertise, solutions and customer success through a new tagline, “Plan to deliver™,” and a ground-up reimagining of JDA’s visual look, attributes and logo, this new identity has launched an exciting new chapter for JDA.

JDA has enabled its customers to deliver their products more intelligently for nearly 30 years, and the new brand mission reflects the confidence that they can “plan to deliver” by using JDA, according to JDA Chief Executive Officer Bal Dail. “JDA’s obsession over ensuring its customer’s success has never been more evident than now. The company’s new identity encapsulates the real business results JDA has delivered through its innovative solutions and 4,800 passionate associates. By using JDA, companies can ensure that they will deliver on the promises they make to their end customers and delight them in the process.” Continue reading

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Does Canada Need a Chief Logistics Officer?

A few years back the Government of Canada introduced the role of Chief Technology Officer or CTO, which ultimately resulted in the formation of Shared Services Canada.

Since that time progress has been made on the elimination of redundancy and standardization across the government which process continues to roll out.

IT services, applications and servers are of course a very significant cost to the government and ultimately the people of Canada. Likewise, logistics the physical handling, storage and transportation of any materiels or related services needed for the Government of Canada to serve citizens costs 10’s if not 100’s of millions of dollars annually. Continue reading

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Third Party is the Perfect Place for Logistics Professionals

There has been much discussion on what Logistics is and the emerging role and recognition of the importance of Logistics professionals within organizations. In fact a recent post of mine even asserted that ‘Logistics is the New Black!’

Highlighting this point, the Logistics profession continues to grow rapidly and is projected to grow 22% by 2022 (27,600 jobs) a rate much faster than the average of all occupations according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

My premise here is that the most desirable future role for these individuals is not working within actual retail and manufacturing organizations proper, but as key players in Third Party Logistics (3PL) provider companies where their interest and expertise are perfectly aligned with the core business of their employer.

Here is not the place to detail the potential hard benefits of third party logistics, but in a nutshell, they can be lower costs, reduced assets, continuous improvement, stability, flexibility of space, labor and network, expanded expertise, and enhanced integration and collaboration savings opportunities. Continue reading

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Expect MORE from Your Third Party Logistics Provider!

Contrary to what many procurement professionals may think, all third party logistics providers are not created equal.

And as retailers are pulled further and faster into the omni-channel future the need for advanced third party logistics providers will only continue to increase.

The very nature of omni-channel means getting closer to the customer and when it comes to logistics this couldn’t be more true.

Products will actually need to be deployed closer to the end consumer in order to deliver rapidly and meet customer needs whether to the home, store, office, lockerbox or pick up centre.

Individual retailers and e-tailers will find themselves challenged to put such a network in place, and even those who attempt to do so will find they don’t have enough volume in regional centres to justify the automated fulfillment systems required to most rapidly and cost effectively pick, pack and ship both customer and store orders. Continue reading

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Emerging Options for Omni-Commerce Logistics Strategy

At SCI Logistics in addition to fulfilling millions of e-commerce orders on an annual basis, we also spend a significant amount of time studying the optimal methods of helping our customers serve consumers in Canada. And by the way, if you’re not already serving online consumers in Canada, you might want to read ‘Looking For Growth in Lean Times? Look North to Canada!‘ to see the opportunity you may be missing!

Every week I’m interacting with more and more e-commerce professionals whose day to day job is coming up with the best methods of delivering Omni-Commerce solutions for their customers.

One thing I can say is there seems to be a lot of angst, confusion, and misinformation out there, so I thought it might be helpful to share some of the best practice options, opinions and trends that seem to be emerging.

MatrixCommerceThose of you who know me are aware of my work in coining and developing the ‘Matrix Commerce‘ concept, however I’m sure you’ll have noted today that I’m using term Omni-Commerce. This is simply a reflection of blunt reality, before any firm can even think of accomplishing a full Matrix Commerce implementation, they and their organizations will have to master and implement the basics of Omni-Commerce logistics. Think of how mountain climbers get to the summit of Mount Everest, the first step in that trek is to get to Base Camp and when it comes to implementing Matrix Commerce in your organization, the first step or Base Camp is to effectively implement Omni-Commerce logistics. Continue reading

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Is it Time for the Widespread Adoption of Composite Pallets in Canada?

Millions of pallets are built and used in the supply chains of Canada every year and so any innovation around these pallets can have a significantly positive and far reaching impact on overall logistics and supply chain performance.

The introduction of composite pallets is just such an innovation and in my humble opinion they are poised to be a major catalyst for supply chain improvements in logistic cost, service and supply chain sustainability.

As I began to research the use of composite pallets getting specific information on them, such as current levels of use and other details, was actually difficult. This was due to the fact that in all studies I’ve found to date, they are lumped into the category of plastic pallets even though they are different in some very important ways.

Let’s start by more specifically defining both Plastic and Composite pallets, followed by a quick comparison on some key characteristics.

Plastic pallets refer to pallets made of a thermoplastic polymer, the method of manufacture varies depending on the style and loading requirements, typical processes used include thermoforming, injection molding, and blow molding. The type of the material used is dependent on the manufacturing process and the majority of plastic pallets for the transportation and warehousing of goods are made of non-renewably sourced polyethylene or polypropylene resins.

Composite pallets are made of a reinforced thermosetting polymer (also known as FRP) and are a combination of various elements formed to create a single material. Composites can range in makeup and complexity, from high cost carbon fibre to lower cost bulk molded compound use in electrical applications. The oil or wetting percentage of these composites is very low compared with fossil fuel derived feed stocks for plastic pallets which are 100% tied to the price for a barrel of oil. With pallet materials in general, its about the cost to weight ratio, and this is where composites win hands down over wood, metals, and plastics. The preferred method to manufacture FRP is compression molding. The resins used for a composite pallet can be sourced from either non-renewable petroleum or renewable bio-derived feed-stocks.

PlasticCompositePalletsDefinitionsChart Continue reading

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