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…

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…

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 logistics 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…

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…

Omni-channel Challenge Elevating the Role of Retail Supply Chain Professionals

Not only is the biggest challenge facing retail supply chain professionals today to solve the Omni-commerce Logistics Puzzle, it may also represent an excellent opportunity for supply chain professionals to elevate their roles in retail organizations.

Several of the omni-channel related presentations I attended referenced the central or critical role supply chain pros must play on an ongoing basis in order to successfully develop and roll out sustainable omni-commerce business in their organizations.

Not only are the logistics requirements to physically support such a dynamic and diverse set of delivery options for customers more complex than faced in the past, but also the inventory deployment, management, replenishment and overall order and supply chain management challenges are further complicated and magnified when serving the growing number of omni-channel consumers. Continue reading…

Logistics, Systems Key to Social Business Customer Experience

Recently IBM Connect 2014 in Orlando was a great opportunity to catch up with a number of thought leaders and frontline practitioners working every day to bring Social Business to life.

Numerous reports have been emerging showing that anywhere from 50 to 70% of both B2B and B2C sales in coming years will be driven via the web through online and social marketing channels making the movement to a social business approach a must for leading firms. Continue reading…

What is a logistics professional? – The Logistician

Q: What is a logistics professional?

A: Someone who gets sh!t done!

Logistics is much more than just warehousing and transportation… it’s about making the right things happen.

True logisticians will ask you what you want done and then will develop the logistical plan to make that objective a reality.

The Logistician

Logisticians are a sad and embittered race of men who are very much in demand in war, and who sink resentfully into obscurity in peace. They deal only in facts, but must work for men who merchant in theories. They emerge during war because war is very much a fact. They disappear in peace because peace is mostly theory. The people who merchant in theories, and who employ logisticians in war and ignore them in peace, are generals.

Generals are a happy blessed race who radiate confidence and power. They feed only on ambrosia and drink only nectar. In peace, they stride confidently and can invade a world simply by sweeping their hands grandly over a map, point their fingers decisively up terrain corridors, and blocking defiles and obstacles with the sides of their hands. In war, they must stride more slowly because each general has a logistician riding on his back and he knows that, at any moment, the logistician may lean forward and whisper: “No, you can’t do that.” Generals fear logisticians in war and, in peace, generals try to forget logisticians.

Romping along beside generals are strategists and tacticians. Logisticians despise strategists and tacticians. Strategists and tacticians do not know about logisticians until they grow up to be generals–which they usually do.

Sometimes a logistician becomes a general. If he does, he must associate with generals whom he hates; he has a retinue of strategists and tacticians whom he despises; and, on his back, is a logistician whom he fears. This is why logisticians who become generals always have ulcers and cannot eat their ambrosia.

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E-Commerce Success in Canada Depends on Power of Two

Customer demands for more rapid and cost effective e-commerce delivery seem to be increasing on a daily basis. In fact not a week goes by now without my speaking with retailers and etailers that since the dawn of e-commerce have successfully serviced Canada from one fulfillment operation for the country and are currently rethinking this model.

In most cases their national fulfillment operations are either positioned in Toronto or Montreal, as well as some in Vancouver, which up until now have been totally acceptable solutions. However, it definitely appears the days are numbered for a single e-commerce fulfillment operation being a viable customer delivery experience solution for all of Canada. Continue reading…

Mission: Maximize Learning on Multichannel Retailing & E-Commerce

In preparation for this year’s Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) Logistics event in Orlando February 17-20th my first task was to review the program and determine priorities for which sessions to attend.

In my mind the most significant challenge facing retail logistics professionals bar none is the rapid rise of multichannel commerce and all associated complexities and surrounding issues. With this in mind I am now a man on a multichannel mission for this year’s #RILAlogistics event! Continue reading…