To say that Black Friday weekend shopping was a success would be an understatement. In fact, to kick off the holiday shopping season, a record 200.4 million shoppers hit the stores and the internet to capitalize on Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation. The turnout topped last year’s figure of 196.7 million shoppers and the NRF’s forecast for about 182 million people during the five-day weekend. The number of people shopping online rose to 134.2 million this year, up from 130.2 million a year ago, and the number of people who shopped at stores fell slightly, from 122.7 million people in 2022 to 121.4 million people this year. The top gifts were clothes and accessories, which about half of those surveyed purchased, and toys, which nearly a third of people surveyed bought. For the first time, personal care or beauty items also cracked into the top five most popular gifts. And now on to this week’s logistics news.
Amazon in the news:
Walmart in the news:
As mentioned above, as more shoppers turn to e-commerce, those companies selling items online need to make sure that their fulfillment processes are fast and efficient. To help manage the holiday rush, Amazon is using artificial intelligence to offer customers even faster deliveries. The company is boasting its quickest delivery time yet, saying that packages are being prepared for dispatch within 11 minutes of an order placement at same-day facilities. That pace is an hour faster than next-day or two-day centers. Amazon uses AI to analyze and plot delivery routes, adapting in real-time to traffic and weather conditions. It also uses artificial intelligence to forecast daily demand for over 400 million products, predicting where in the world they are likely to be ordered. This allows faster delivery, as delivery stations go from handling 60,000 packages a day to over 110,000 during the holiday season.
Speaking of the massive amounts of online orders, Amazon has grabbed the crown of biggest delivery business in the U.S., surpassing both UPS and FedEx in parcel volumes. The company delivered more packages to U.S. homes in 2022 than UPS, after eclipsing FedEx in 2020, and it is on track to widen the gap this year, according to internal Amazon data and people familiar with the matter. The U.S. Postal Service is still the biggest parcel service by volume; it handles hundreds of millions of packages for all three companies. A decade ago, Amazon was a major customer for UPS and FedEx, and it seemed almost laughable that it could overtake them. Amazon’s outsize growth combined with strategy shifts at FedEx and UPS have changed the balance. Before Thanksgiving this year, Amazon had already delivered more than 4.8 billion packages in the U.S., and its internal projections predict that it will deliver around 5.9 billion by the end of the year.
Walmart is also pushing to speed up delivery of online orders. The company has introduced parcel stations within its in-store delivery hubs that promise to help move goods even faster. Walmart currently has 4,000 stores operating as delivery hubs that fulfill and deliver a variety of order types, and it plans to have 40 parcel stations up and running by the end of the year. Walmart plans to expand the new capability to additional locations in the new year. Jennifer McKeehan, SVP, transportation and delivery for Walmart U.S., explained in a company blog post that packages originate in the retailer’s fulfillment centers and move to a sortation center, or directly to stores, where they are then delivered to a customer’s home using Walmart’s last-mile delivery network. The new parcel stations will allow Walmart’s private fleet to transport even more online orders.
In other Walmart news, the company is importing more goods to the United States from India and reducing its reliance upon China as it looks to cut costs and diversify its supply chain. Walmart shipped one quarter of its U.S. imports from India between January and August this year, according to bill of lading figures shared by data firm Import Yeti. That compared with just 2 percent in 2018. The data shows that only 60 percent of its shipments came from China during the same period, down from 80 percent in 2018. To be sure, China is still Walmart’s biggest country for importing goods. The shift illustrates how the rising cost of importing from China and escalating political tensions between Washington and Beijing are encouraging large U.S. companies to import more from countries including India, Thailand and Vietnam.
Schneider National says it’s the first major carrier to rack up 1 million miles (1.6 million km) using battery-electric vehicles hauling customer freight. It operates nearly 100 Freightliner eCascadia Class 8 electric trucks at its Southern California Intermodal Operations Center, which also houses a charging depot half the size of a football field. Schneider says it began running the trucks to haul customer freight in January. It also operates two electric yard tractors. Schneider president and CEO Mark Rourke said:
“We are driven by our commitment to sustainability and innovation to be one of the first carriers to embrace electric as a powerful solution for hauling freight. We believe in a future where clean technology helps transform the way we move goods and reduces our environmental footprint while still delivering on our promises of efficiency and reliability for customers. This milestone is just the first of many.”
As part of the inaugural meeting of the White House Council on Supply Chain Resilience, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $196 million to strengthen the agricultural supply chain and lower food costs. The investment will support 185 projects to create new and improved market opportunities for producers and entrepreneurs across the nation. A few examples of funding supporting the meat and poultry industry include the following:
Centrillium Protein LLC will purchase meat processing equipment with $15.1 million through the Food Supply Chain Guaranteed Loan Program. The company will produce lean finely textured beef, rendered tallow and trim prime meats, which will be supplied to restaurants and retailers.
FlexCold LLC plans to use $8.2 million through the Food Supply Chain Guaranteed Loan Program to purchase mobile racking equipment for its cold storage facility. This will allow waitlist customers to house their meat, packaged goods, poultry, frozen produce and seafood products, while creating 35 new jobs.
A list of all the awards can be found here.
I-40 is one of the most traveled roadways in New Mexico – and the country – largely because of all the freight traffic coming from southern California. Federal leaders predict it’s only going to get busier in the future. The U.S. Department of Transportation has a plan to overcome supply chain issues, and it appears the Albuquerque metro could be a key ingredient. They are encouraging cities along I-40 to build new warehouses and fueling infrastructure to make the trade route out of Los Angeles more efficient. Instead of relying on limited storage space in southern California, companies could house their imports in larger, cheaper facilities in the same cities they’d have to pass through anyway. Bernalillo County is taking the lead on the project, but Sandoval County, Rio Rancho, and Los Lunas are all involved. The U.S. Department of Transportation recently awarded the group nearly $1 million to develop a 6,000-acre logistics facility somewhere in the metro, but officials say that’s just the beginning. Officials say there’s also a focus on clean energy. The new logistics facility would have electric chargers or hydrogen-fueling capabilities to encourage the transition away from diesel trucks.
That’s all for this week. Enjoy the weekend and the song of the week, Black Math by the White Stripes.
The post This Week in Logistics News (November 25 – December 1) appeared first on Logistics Viewpoints.