Returns are costing supply chains $50 billion each year, and that number is only expected to increase as e-commerce continues to grow. Free shipping on returns is something that consumers have grown to love and expect from online shopping. In fact, a survey from UPS found that free shipping is the biggest determinant of a positive returns experience, with respondents saying that the returns experience influences whether or not they will purchase from the retailer again.
Gartner published an article saying that 80% of supply chain blockchain initiatives will remain at proof-of-concept or pilot stages through 2020. The research firm cited the focus of projects on a technology-first approach as the reason for slow maturity. In other words, starting with the technology and looking for a solution rather than the problem that needs solving.
Target Corp.’s efforts to build up its e-commerce business have coincided with an overhaul of its information-technology operations. The retailer has brought software development that was long outsourced to contract workers in-house and new Chief Information Officer Michael McNamara is focusing on technology initiatives aimed at driving revenue growth. The behind-the-scenes effort reflects the scale and the urgency of Target’s bid to catch up to Amazon.com Inc., one example of the e-commerce market leader’s impact on corporate strategies across the retail sector. Target's initiative has helped results. Sales from stores and digital channels operating for at least 12 months rose 4.5% last quarter, and e-commerce sales rose 31%, with most of that growth coming from same-day delivery or pickup. Same-day delivery options, including “buy online pick up in store” services, accounted for 80% of Target’s digital growth in the quarter.
The impact of China’s rapidly-spreading coronavirus is starting to touch commercial trade. China is holding back some ships from calling at the city of Wuhan advancing the impact of efforts to quarantine the region into the shipping sector. The moves at the major trading center on the Yangtze River add to the concerns that the frightening respiratory infection will begin to affect China’s economy. Beijing has expanded the lockdown on travel in the central Chinese city of Wuhan to other nearby cities, a crushing event for Chinese citizens just at the start of the Lunar New Year, when millions of people travel home for the country’s most important family holiday. The efforts at the river ports have so far kept some cargo ships idling short of Wuhan, and one official says container ships are taking health precautions as they enter the area.
C.H. Robinson launched C.H. Robinson Labs, an in-house supply chain innovation incubator, on Wednesday according to a press release. The lab will leverage the company's September 2019 commitment to invest $1 billion in technological innovation projects over the next five years. The initiative is tasked with developing targeted digital connectivity and data analytics tools for shippers who are "hungry for tech solutions to strengthen their competitive position and increase their efficiencies," C.H. Robinson President and CEO Bob Biesterfeld said in the release.
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