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WFH? Here’s How to Manage your Ecommerce Order Deliveries Successfully.

order

WFH? Here’s How to Manage your Ecommerce Order Deliveries Successfully.

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus has turned the whole world upside down. No one is sure about anything anymore. And that scares us. Luckily, the culture of remote working has been catching on. There are a gazillion tools that help you get rid of the snags of WFH. Regardless, managing your team as an ecommerce business owner remotely is no joke. Especially during a time when you cannot afford to lose business or customers.

Here’s a cheat sheet to stay on top of your orders in the age of social distancing.

1. Real-time shipment monitoring: The good news is that there is a greater push for shopping online. More and more customers are seeking comfort in the ease of ordering products online. In the US, there has been a surge in the ecommerce order volume for health and beauty products. The real challenge is staying on top of order fulfillment. You need a unified portal that tracks and monitors your packages in real-time. While your logistics team may be efficient, it is prudent to have visibility into shipment details. A real-time shipment tracking system that feeds you with the total shipments, total deliveries, potential delivery exceptions for every single day at all times. A real-time tracker is a great way to oversee your team’s order fulfillment efficiency with zero manual intervention.

2. Real-time Delivery updates: Your customers are anxious about their orders. More than ever before. If you see a sharp rise in the “ Where is my order” calls to customer support, rest assured, it is the new normal. Instead of overburdening your lean support team, send delivery updates to your customer proactively. Inform your customers of the order location. Auto-set triggers to initiate notification for any change in the shipment transit activity. Your customer stays in the know of the order shipment status at all times.

3. Custom exception notifications: Delivery exceptions are a downer. Lost, delays, damages can ruin your customer’s delivery experience. When left unattended, a bad delivery experience could quickly spiral out of control. To salvage this situation, act immediately. Whenever your real-time tracker notifies you of a potential disaster, come clean and inform your customer.

“Hey Mike. We regret to inform you that your order [ tracking# 887676756454] is experiencing a delay. But we assure you that we are working with our shipping partner to get the order to you at the earliest. Thanks”

Surprisingly, buyers are quite understanding and more cooperative once they are informed of any issue beforehand. In fact, your customers appreciate your transparency.

4. Carrier performance monitoring: When your business is fulfilling orders using more than one shipping carrier, how do you evaluate them. Even global carriers such as FedEx, UPS or DHL have their share of strengths and weaknesses. How do you play to the carrier’s strength so as to benefit the most? Easy. Measure their on-time delivery performances. Categorize their OTD across different zones, different days of the week and different package dimensions. Or simply plug into an Audit tool that can generate all this for you.

5. Cost-saving recommendations: Companies across the world are laying off employees. There is a huge drive for cost-cutting across organizations. Brick and Mortar stores are brainstorming ways to omnichannelise their user experience. The least you can do as an ecommerce business owner is to audit your shipping invoices. If you have not automated your auditing process yet, time to reconsider. An in-depth invoice audit not only results in instant savings on your shipping costs by disputing service and billing errors, but they also unearth strategies to optimize your shipping spend. The need of the hour is to shave away all the payment excesses and billing overcharges.

AuditShipment is an automated invoice audit service that identifies more than 50 carrier errors across vendors, disputes billing errors, validate tariff rate against SLA and offers benchmark discount reports. They also help get you refunds on late shipments from vendors like UPS, FedEx, etc. In addition to offering post-order fulfillment audits, our advanced technology also offers real-time shipment tracking and custom delivery notifications. With AuditShipment, stay on top of your orders at all times.

online

PREVENTING TRADE IN ONLINE FAKES

Online Buyer Beware

U.S. consumers spent over $600 billion dollars with U.S. merchants online in 2019. For consumers, online shopping is enticing for its convenience. With credit card in hand, shoppers can easily compare prices, make a purchase, and have the products shipped directly to their homes. The ability to sell online has transformed the ways in which manufacturers, shippers and retailers conduct business.

The evolution from brick and mortar to online stores has also made it more convenient for illegitimate businesses and criminals to pass off counterfeit products, which has attracted the attention of the U.S. government. Since November 2019, a flurry of government activity has focused on protecting consumers in the e-commerce environment.

Trade in fake goods 3.3 percent of world trade

Political Hue and Cry

The Senate Finance Committee examined online counterfeit goods last November when it issued a bipartisan report highlighting two key fact findings: U.S. businesses have difficulties preventing the sale of counterfeit goods online, and e-commerce platforms have no affirmative obligation to police counterfeit goods listings or to proactively remove suspected counterfeit items.

In January, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a report titled Combating Trafficking in Counterfeit and Pirated Goods, in which DHS found that e-commerce has contributed to a shift in the sale of counterfeit goods in the United States. As consumers increasingly purchase goods online, counterfeiters are increasingly producing a wider variety of goods that may be sold on websites alongside authentic products. The report adds that American consumers shopping on e-commerce platforms and online third-party marketplaces now face a significant risk of purchasing counterfeit or pirated goods.

A week after the release of the DHS report, the White House issued an Executive Order “Ensuring Safe and Lawful E-Commerce for U.S. Consumers, Businesses, Government Supply Chains, and Intellectual Property Rights Holders”. The Order implicates express carriers and the international postal system as contributing to the problem of imports of contraband and counterfeit goods.

American brands 24 percent of fake products seized

House Bill 6058, the SHOP SAFE Act of 2020, was introduced in early March in the House of Representatives. The bill proposes to impose contributory trademark infringement liability on e-commerce platforms unless they take steps specified in the legislation. The legislation received immediate support from several prominent industry associations.

The American Apparel & Footwear Association’s CEO stated that “more needs to be done to prevent counterfeit products from unknowingly entering the homes of American families.” In support of the bill, the CEO of the Personal Care Products Council stated that “counterfeit personal care products damage businesses, disregard regulatory protection and more importantly threaten consumers’ health and safety,” adding the Council encourages “Congress to establish a system that makes online marketplaces and others responsible for ensuring that products on their platforms comply with U.S. laws and regulations”.

Two days later, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) stated that the convenience of e-commerce “has come at a devastating price: a proliferation of dangerous counterfeit goods that endanger consumers and property, and an army of counterfeit merchants from overseas that undermine American small businesses with unscrupulous tactics.”

Counterfeit medicines

Hiding on Plain Sites

In general, the owners of intellectual property (copyrights, trademarks, patents) have had a lot to say about the online platforms and marketplaces that host e-commerce. As summarized in the Senate Finance Committee’s report, e-commerce platforms place the burden of policing and enforcing intellectual property (IP) on the IP owners, suggesting they do not have a duty to police counterfeit listings or proactively remove suspected counterfeit goods from platforms.

The proposed SHOP SAFE Act of 2020 would place a greater burden on platforms. By taking steps outlined in the legislation, platforms would be able to avoid liability for IP violations.

During the week the SHOP SAFE Act was introduced and a hearing held to address the issue of e-commerce threats to consumers and the economy, a technology company, PreClear, announced it is using “technology that pushes out the border and prevents infringing goods and potentially harmful goods from being exported to the U.S.” PreClear’s founder is quoted as saying that the technology is in use 24/7 and rejects thousands of non-compliant items daily.

There is no doubt that the sheer volume of infringing and other non-compliant merchandise available to consumers on the internet begs for a solution. The question is whether protection and enforcement begin after the items are in the stream of commerce in the United States or before the items ship to the United States. One of the missing variables in the trade policy equation remains how to prevent infringing items from leaving the country of origin in the first instance.

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Tim Trainer was an attorney-advisor at the U.S. Customs Service and U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. He is a past president of the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition. Tim is now the principal at Global Intellectual Property Strategy Center, P.C., and Galaxy Systems, Inc.

This article originally appeared on TradeVistas.org. Republished with permission.

quarantine

Surviving and Thriving in Quarantine: 3 Ways Businesses Can Turn Time into Opportunity

At this point, the story is global – businesses in communities around our country and world have shuttered, many at the direction of local, state or national governments as we battle the COVID-19 pandemic.

But grim as the picture may be today, millions of small business owners around the country need to grapple not just with the challenge of what to do while their operations are closed, but how to prepare for what lies on the other side of this crisis as the world emerges from quarantine and returns to the business.

In pursuit of a silver lining during this trying time, below are three opportunities to turn a quarantine shutdown on its head and help build businesses stronger than ever before.

Explore creative new ways to deliver your product or service – I’ve watched with fascination as many creative businesses have found ways to continue operating through a quarantine. Novel ways to deliver everything from orchestral music to personal training and therapy/addiction treatment have made the rounds as viral social media videos or popular articles. A similar solution may not be realistic for all businesses, but particularly if you deliver personal services (as opposed to hard goods and products that require in-person consumption), taking the time to invest in and perfect your digital delivery right now could pay benefits down the road.

Imagine a local personal trainer that works via in-person training sessions exclusively. These weeks (or months) may force their training sessions with existing clientele to video-conference, but if that trainer is intentional about streamlining their online offering they’ll be able to tap into a national (or international!) new customer base during and even after the quarantine ends.

Embrace any opportunity to explore an alternative delivery method for your businesses’ product or service, and you may reap benefits down the road.

-Take the time to complete bigger tasks you’ve been pushing off – there are some projects that are just hard to do when you are engaged in the full-time business of helping customers and producing a product each day. Large manufacturing facilities at companies like GE, Ford, Boeing, and more understand this as a fact of life – they proactively schedule dedicated plant-shutdown weeks where assembly lines stop completely to create space for large projects that wouldn’t be possible during normal operation.

Businesses of all sizes suddenly have this opportunity. What can you accomplish during your ‘plant shutdown’? Well, for ideas – there are physical changes (rearranging a showroom, gym, or restaurant seating arrangement to allow more functional usage), periodic maintenance (steam your carpets, paint your walls, organize your warehouse) and business tooling/service improvements you can make. Are you paying too much for your website, your payment solution, or your inventory management tools? Not all of these projects require significant investment, and it’s likely that some leg work today could save you money down the road.

Time and elbow grease could upgrade your physical space. Building a beautiful, more flexible site on Squarespace or Wix could reap benefits as customers experience your online storefront for months or years. Explore whether you’re using the best payments solution. What other tools do you use to run your business that you could evaluate right now?

Most businesses get one chance to make these decisions as you start operation, and the switching cost is very high once you’re locked in -mostly because change requires closing your business for some period. The quarantine might have forced the closure – take advantage!

-Build your skills – In my decade of experience working with small businesses (small ecommerce merchants with eBay, cash-flow solutions with Kabbage, and I currently work with Drum, focusing on providing new ways for businesses to market themselves), I’ve learned people start and operate businesses because they believe in their core mission, not because they’re a magical jack-of-all-trades superhuman.

Retailers sell things they love to produce and curate. Restaurateurs create amazing dining experiences. Contractors are able to bring remodels and renovations to life. In an ideal world, entrepreneurs should spend as much of their mental and physical energy on the thing they’re really good at and leave the other elements of a business to others.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the reality that most business owners live with. There’s always more work to be done than there are hands to do it, and any business owner wears multiple hats – you can’t offload everything. I’m sure there’s a hat every business owner wears that doesn’t fit so well.

If your poorly-fitting hat is marketing-related, maybe a few weeks of couch time is great for pouring over free marketing tutorials (courtesy of LinkedIn Learning/Lynda.com). If you struggle with keeping your financials straight and organized, maybe this is a great time to dive headfirst into QuickBooks resources. Even better – leverage the collective power of the internet (particularly Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook) to find a subject matter expert. You may find a similarly stir-crazy professional with knowledge you’re looking to develop that’s willing to provide some free/low-cost advice or trade some consulting hours for business services or products.

There are no easy answers – we’re all going to muddle through the next weeks and months together. But business owners are resilient, and they’re resourceful – I’m sure there is no shortage of brilliant ideas floating around. See what these suggestions could do for you, then pay it forward – share your own ideas, whether on social media or directly with your contacts.

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Eric Nalbone is the Head of Marketing for Drum, a company building new ways for businesses to leverage the power of customer and community referrals. He has previously led Marketing for Bellhops, a tech-enabled moving company headquartered in Chattanooga, TN, and held a variety of roles with Kabbage, eBay, and General Electric. Eric resides in Atlanta, GA with his wife and three dogs.

ecommerce business

How Coronavirus Impacts Ecommerce Business and Beyond

There is no vaccine to prevent the spreading Coronavirus, yet, and that holds lessons for ecommerce businesses and the people who work at them. Today, we’re facing a time to prepare and hopefully limit exposure and risks at work.

For businesses, preparation and the possibility of illness are going to reshape the day-to-day. After reviewing scenarios and government guidance (here’s your list of cleaners that can take out COVID-19), we’ve put together some thoughts on the most significant impacts we’ll see soon and how companies can respond to protect their people best.

Sending people home is best but expensive

Many ecommerce businesses are small shops, though we’ve been impressed to see some grow significantly in recent years. It’s always a fantastic thing to witness, but their scrappy nature usually means staff are perpetually busy and wearing multiple hats.

Unfortunately, that might mean the COVID-19 threat will hit you especially hard.

Your best bet to keep everyone at work safe is to let anyone go home when they feel even the slightest bit sick. If that happens, document the person arrived and left, plus who they came into contact with at work — employees and anyone who might’ve visited — and how they got to work. This can help medical professionals who are already going to be stretched thin.

The best practice here is going to cost you, but it could also save your team from significant harm, and that is to pay your team to stay home. Help people use their sick days and vacation time if they have it. If someone doesn’t, review your budget to see what you can offer.

If people can’t afford to stay home, they come into work even when sick. That’s a danger none of us can afford right now.

Wash your hands and everything else

There is a little bit of a silver lining in the ecommerce world: most of the products moving through your warehouse are going to be safe. You’re watching for people above all else.

This is because most coronaviruses, including COVID-19, struggle to live on surfaces. So far, we haven’t seen evidence of contaminated food products, which is generally where you’ll first see illnesses spread by products/goods.

For products, the risk is a “smear infection” where someone coughs or sneezes onto a product or package, and a new person touches that and then their face. The virus is believed to have a short lifespan in smear cases, so your team should be relatively safe. Maximize their safety by prioritizing handwashing. Have your team wear gloves at all times, but still make them wash up after unloading a truck.

What ecommerce and other businesses will want to be aware of is the route their goods are taking to get to warehouses. If something is passing through areas where there’s been an outbreak or if you learn that a delivery person for a specific company has fallen ill, pay extra close attention to cleaning these products and packages.

For goods that have been traveling to your company for days or weeks by ocean, there’s minimal product risk from that leg of the trip, but local infections may be possible. Air travel is fast enough that you could have higher smear risks.

So, wash hands, wear gloves, and clean everything as you go.

Alternatives may become scarce

Some impacts are already rippling through the global supply chain. One significant shift is that companies are scrambling to find alternative sources for products and raw materials. Not only are prices for some materials already rising, but there’s growing lane congestion.

This will be a double hit for businesses.

If you’re not manufacturing your own goods, then you need someone to do it for you. New partners can be expensive to source. At the same time, your competition will be turning to them as well. Also happening concurrently, manufacturers will be looking to secure new sources of raw materials. Shifts, such as nearshoring production and buying local, all come with increased costs and supply chain changes.

The other impact is that it could generate more congestion for local delivery and fulfillment options. Companies may face the cost of shipping their goods rise, as well as see delays in fulfillment times. Those delays are already happening in areas where there have been cases of the virus.

Your business will pay more, but you might not be able to pass on additional expenses to customers. Delays in fulfillment times will hit the ecommerce sector hard because customers already expect two-day shipping options. Now, you’ll have to tell them it could be longer and cost more, which may see them take their business elsewhere.

Outsourcing will increase

Expect companies to start diversifying the way they get goods to customers. One particular method is going to be outsourcing fulfillment to companies that have multiple warehouses. It’s a smart way to avoid supply chain bottlenecks because it minimizes the chances that a local outbreak will impact your entire fulfillment operations.

For some ecommerce companies, this outsourcing may come with a small benefit of reaching customers more quickly (once they get stock to third-party logistics providers), while also protecting some workers. If we see sustained infections and spreading of the virus, there’s a potential that many small ecommerce businesses will start outsourcing their entire fulfillment operations.

In the short-term, that could cause some issues with warehouse space and fulfillment staff. In the long run, it might cause cost reductions and lead to greater product availability.

Companies who can figure out how to avoid delivery slowdowns — such as large ones able to own and use their own delivery fleet — will dominate the market. The U.S. has faced a truck driver shortage for years, and growth in outsourcing may help curb some of that, but it would come with higher wages for those who have a greater potential risk of being exposed to the Coronavirus and other health concerns.

Our world will look different tomorrow

We’ve fully embraced the gig economy and home delivery, and there’s a potential it all comes crashing down. Whether these employees continue work amid growing exposure (and even after becoming sick) or if services start slowing down, it’ll impact the daily lives of many Americans.

Businesses will also face changes in the way we bring people to the office, help staff pay for healthcare, and what processes we no longer choose to do to protect ourselves. The global, interconnected supply chain is already changing, and nothing but time will tell us how profound and varied this impact is.

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Jake Rheude is the Director of Marketing for Red Stag Fulfillment, an ecommerce fulfillment warehouse that was born out of ecommerce. He has years of experience in ecommerce and business development. In his free time, Jake enjoys reading about business and sharing his own experience with others.

modex

MODEX Day Three: Robotics & Automation Continue Maturing

In typical Modex fashion, robotics and automation were among the hot topics discussed by keynote speakers, exhibitors, and attendees. A vast array of capabilities, sizes, and industry-specific robotics could be found throughout the show floor, each showing off a new capability. It’s clear that robotics continue to evolve and show no signs of slowing down progress in meeting demand within warehouses and distribution centers.

Mike Futch, President of Tompkins Robotics made this point very clear during his session on Wednesday afternoon titled, “The Lights Out DC/FC: How Close Can We Get?”

Futch addressed the use of various technologies to address workforce constraints while improving the effectiveness and performance of the supply chain.  He identified what advancements will assist in solving bottlenecks such as facility constraints, space issues, and the current situation in unemployment. As these challenges persist, robotics continues to mature.

“There’s a limited workforce, a limited number of people that can drive the distance to enter the immediate geographic region, and these larger buildings are competing for that workforce that’s already at a low unemployment rate along with offering increased wages and siphoning workers off of others. This is a real challenge for some markets.”

“Labor is scarce and we have record-low unemployment, typically to expand capacity from a volume perspective and companies are turning to more shifts. If you already have a tight labor market and you’re adding shifts, where are the workers coming from? And this creates a bigger problem.”

The workforce is a key constraint and while workforce rates are lower than others in some places, Futch states that companies are competing to stay ahead of demand through increased wages while solving the best approach to a limited workforce.

Machines continue to do the same things a human can do but without interruptions with repetitive, difficult, or taxing work that inevitably fatigues the human body. That being said, the industry still requires a skilled workforce and robotics should not be purchased for their appeal. It’s becoming clear that a blend of workers and robotics is a more common theme for integrating such advancements over the idea that robotics will “overtake” worker’s jobs. In fact, robotics is providing a way to re-establish worker tasks rather than eliminating the worker.

“Robotics has matured tremendously from where they were a few years ago. About 5-10 years ago, the pick-and-place robots at the show could not do the things they are capable of doing now. Two years from now, they’ll have the capability to do twice as much as now. Robotics is maturing and meeting the three R’s: improve rate, improve reliability, and improve the range of products and items,” he explained. ”

In terms of a fully automated DC, Futch added that about 60-85 percent of manual tasks can be automated realistically rather than a “lights out” center.

“Beyond the pick-and-place robots, other robots are doing the same thing: creating a blur of separation between what a human can do and what a machine can do.”

MODEX 2020 Day One: Millennials and Their Impact on Distribution

Day one of this year’s MODEX event kicked-off with its anticipated array of technology solutions in action and hundreds of global companies sharing the latest and greatest impacting the supply chain. From warehousing and robotics to transportation and packaging, just about every moving part of the supply chain represented a part of the show.

Keynote speakers such as Michael Roe, Senior Account Executive at DMW&H, took on challenges specific to the distribution and ecommerce sector: millennials.

The generational differences brought to the ecommerce market have shaken the way distributors approach customer adaptation. Furthermore, distributors are now challenged to balance multiple consumer demands while remaining relevant. Roe explains:

“Millennials changed retail because of the way they shop. Millennials value culture, experience, and they value the value of the experience. Although it may seem new, it may not be so new.”

“Distribution practices have changed because we have to adapt to the customer base. If you understand what your customer wants, you have to change your distribution and understand how it’s going to work.”

He goes onto explain that during the early days of ecommerce, companies like Amazon (known to-date as the fastest company to reach $100 billion in sales) changed that model and took the stores out of the equation. This effort was a strategy used by ecommerce companies to reinvent the consumer’s shopping and comparison experience by adding ease and convenience. Amazon created a presence everywhere through its distribution centers – they were simply found everywhere. To this day, Amazon continues to expand its footprint with the help of automation.

For the modern consumer, the days of mall visits are a thing of the past for some, while for others in the same consumer pool prefer the option of both ecommerce and the traditional store model. Baby boomers typically still prefer the in-store experience with 84 percent confirming this preference. They want their product when they leave and aren’t keen on the idea of waiting for something already paid for.

Meanwhile, Gen X prefers the option of comparison-shopping while reaping the benefits of maximized value. Millennials demand a hybrid model offering a complex blend of what Boomers and Gen X’ers seek. And they want it for a competitive price. Navigating this shift has left some scratching their head as they identify the most adaptable approach.

At the end of the day, it boils down to understanding the customer and identifying the best approach to navigating the balance of consumer demands. The millenials concept isn’t all that new at all. in fact, generational changes have always been present, it’s all a matter of anticipating these changes and preparing the solution accordingly. Roe concluded that “Every generation has changed their shopping preferences. With each generation comes faster response times to customer preferences.”

KC SmartPort

KC SmartPort Shares Leading Differentiators for its Ecommerce Surge

Known as the “hub for food logistics” in the Midwest, the Kansas City region boasts a unique approach to economic development. KC SmartPort – a nonprofit economic development organization – focuses on attracting freight-based businesses to the region through its streamlined efforts in workforce development, real estate opportunities, and thriving logistics-focused operations. The Kansas City region recently reported substantial growth in ecommerce and distribution companies establishing operations in the area with these companies planning to invest $1.3 billion and aiming for the creation of seven thousand jobs. KC SmartPort president Chris Gutierrez and his team attended the Dallas RILA/LINK 2020 conference as exhibitors and shared the latest and greatest developments emerging in the Kansas City region.

“With online sales increasing every year, companies have really been focusing on their omnichannel strategy. The Kansas City region is centrally located and offers a robust transportation infrastructure from road, air, rail and water, ultimately supporting the ability for businesses to reach 88-90 percent of the population in about two days. This really lends itself as a successful strategy around ecommerce,” said Chris Gutierrez, president of KC SmartPort.

“Since 2012, we’ve had over 40 million square feet of industrial buildings built primarily on spec because the ecommerce companies will go through a peak season and if they hit their numbers, they need to be in the next building within a certain time frame to hit next year’s peak. If they don’t have a building to move into, then the opportunity is lost. That’s something our region has been very successful in supporting,” he added.

Among big-name ecommerce and distribution companies that made the move to the Kansas City region in 2019 include Wal-Mart, Hostess, Amazon, CVS Pharmacy, Overstock.com, Tool Source Warehouse, and more. Part of this surge in ecommerce, automotive, and retailers is dually supported by the region’s balancing of business and workforce development efforts.

“What we are doing locally is a three-step process. First, we create an awareness buzz at the elementary and high schools and community colleges around supply chain jobs that serve as career opportunities with great benefits and growth options rather than just filling a position. The second part of local efforts involves public transportation, rideshare, and other mobility solutions to support getting the employee to the job site.”

“The third leg of this approach is encouraging employers to critically think about workplace culture. We take it a step further and educate employers of the importance of the first week during onboarding, eliminating the desire to go to the next company offering a quarter more in pay but offering a potentially more satisfying culture. If the company offers a healthy culture, it makes a huge difference, specifically with non-tangible things that add value to the employee experience.”

These multi-layered efforts not only support the existing workforce and growth in economic development but serve as proactive solutions for future workforce generations in Kansas City. More than 2.3 million people in the region rely on the unique economic development team covering both Kansas and Missouri. The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) serves as a bi-state authority covering a broader regional area while addressing large-scale concerns. This partnership serves as a major differentiator in the region for businesses seeking a myriad of options in amenities, incentives, and transportation.

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Chris Gutierrez is the President of KC SmartPort, Inc., a KCADC affiliate organization focused on attracting freight based economic development to the greater Kansas City region and providing thought leadership to the supply chain industry in Kansas City. Chris has been active in economic development and logistics for over 30 years. He joined KC SmartPort in 2003.

artificial intelligence

Artificial Intelligence Market to Reach $54 Billion by 2026

According to a new study published by Polaris Market Research, the global artificial intelligence market is anticipated to reach USD 54 billion by 2026. The advancements of robots and the rise in their deployment rate particularly, in the developing economies globally have had a positive impact on the global artificial intelligence market.

Augmented customer experience, expanded application areas, enhanced productivity, and big data integration have highly propelled the artificial intelligence market worldwide. Although, the absence of adequate skilled workforce, as well as threat to human dignity, are some of the factors that could affect the growth of the market. However, these factors are expected to have minimal impact on the market attributed to the introduction of advanced technologies.

An extraordinary increase in productivity has been achieved with machine-learning. For instance, Google, with the help of its experimental driverless technology has transformed cars including, Toyota Prius. The integration of various tools by artificial intelligence has helped in the transformation of business management. These tools include brand purchase advertising, workflow management tools, trend predictions among others. For example, Google’s voice accuracy technology has a 98% accuracy rate. Furthermore, Facebook’s DeepFace technology has a success rate of approximately 97% in recognizing faces. Such accuracy in technologies is further anticipated to bolster the market growth during the forecast period.

Currently, North America dominates the global artificial intelligence market attributed to the high government funding availability, existence of prominent providers in the region, and robust technical adoption base. Also, the region is expected to continue its dominance during the forecast period. Moreover, the adoption of cloud-based services in key economies, such as the US and Canada, is considering adding to the market growth in the North American region. The markets in Asia Pacific, MEA and South America region are expected to notice a high growth during the coming years. The growth in the Asia Pacific region is attributed to the increasing demand for artificial technologies by the developing economies. Thus, the region is anticipated to grow at the highest CAGR during the forecast period.

 

Major companies profiled in the report include Google Inc., Intel Corporation, Nvidia Corporation, Microsoft Corporation, IBM Corporation, General Vision, Inc., Qlik Technologies Inc., MicroStrategy, Inc., Brighterion, Inc., and Baidu, Inc. among others.

Key Findings from the study suggest North America is expected to command the market over the forecast years. APAC is presumed to be the fastest-growing market, developing at a CAGR of more than 65% over the forecast period. The artificial intelligence market is presumed to develop at a CAGR of over 55.9% from 2018 to 2026. The high implementation of artificial intelligence in several end-user verticals including, retail, automotive and healthcare is projected to boost the growth of the market over the forecast period. Several companies are making considerable investments to integrate artificial intelligence competencies into their portfolio of products. For instance, in 2016, SK Telecom and Intel Corporation signed an agreement for the development of the artificial intelligence-based vehicle-to-everything (V2X) technology as well as video recognition.

For More Information About Artificial Intelligence Market @ https://www.polarismarketresearch.com/industry-analysis/artificial-intelligence-market/request-for-customization
parcel

The State of “Fast and Free” Delivery: What Retailers and Parcel Carriers Should Know

Thanks primarily to Amazon (and the explosive growth of Amazon Prime), consumers in 2020 are conditioned to expect that virtually anything bought online can be shipped for free. That’s true for small orders like prescriptions and batteries, and for huge items like appliances and tires. If it means a shopper has to buy an annual subscription, or spend a little more to meet a free-shipping minimum, most people would consider that a low bar to meet.

But as every retailer and ecommerce seller knows, shipping is never free. Today’s multi-billion-dollar parcel carriers are getting paid. They moved nearly a billion parcels this past peak season. That shipping cost is being ultimately absorbed by sellers and is reflected in the price buyers are paying for products.

And parcel volume growth isn’t slowing down – it’s accelerating. According to the Pitney Bowes Parcel Shipping Index, global parcel shipping volume grew 70% from 2014 to 2017, to 74.4 billion parcels. The index projects global parcel volume to rise at a rate of 17% to 28% from 2018 to 2020, surpassing 100 billion parcels this year.

Handling increasing parcel volume isn’t just about figuring out how to do more of the same. The process of getting things where they need to go is under a transformation. In a recent report, Gartner found that transportation is the largest portion of delivery costs, due to a shift from carriers handling bulk freight to small parcels.

[Parcel and last-mile delivery will] continue to be the fastest-growing shipment segments due to increases in multichannel retail, eCommerce in B2B and same-day delivery offerings.

Gartner also observed what many companies are feeling. As volume continues to grow, companies only have time to react instead of plan. That means many are missing opportunities to revolutionize parcel logistics with innovation and alternative delivery models.

How fast does “fast” need to be?

According to research from Freightwaves, consumers unsurprisingly still have an appetite for fast delivery, with 60% of shoppers saying they’ve abandoned an online purchase because of slow delivery times. With record volumes to handle – and so much at stake with consumer expectations – efficiency, on-time consistency, and flexibility are key for parcel delivery services, whether it’s same-day, next-day or deferred.

This year’s U.S. peak shipping season saw about a billion package deliveries (up 4.5% from 2018). Retailers are offering more same-day options, which increases demand and the need for trucks, local delivery vehicles, drivers, warehouses and warehouse workers.

This year, the challenge was also complicated by a shorter selling season (the holiday season was six days shorter in 2019 than is typical), new restrictions on driver hours of service, and the December 16 implementation of new rules for Electronic Logging Devices in commercial trucks. All of these factors impact capacity and the ability of networks to deliver fast and on time.

Emerging shift in consumer behaviors

On the flip side of the “freer and faster” coin is Gartner research analyst Tom Enright. He’s counseled retailers on their supply chain and fulfillment strategies for more than a decade.

In a groundbreaking report published in November 2019, he detected an emerging shift in consumer behavior: “Consumers are starting to express increased concern about the environmental impact of retailer’s shipping practices, and are seeking slower, more sustainable options.”

Consumers are now defining convenience as order fulfillment on their terms, and they’re expressing more and more concerns about the environmental impact of fast, one-off deliveries.

It’s a conflict between three consumer choices:

-The desire for instant gratification

-The price reduction they can get for waiting longer for a delivery

-The impact fulfillment speed has on transportation, packaging and other environmental issues.

According to Enright, for retailers, these shifting demands are driving the emergence of two new requirements that are somewhat at odds with current models:

-Retailers must be more environmentally sustainable in order fulfillment operations.

-Retailers must offer a wide range of shipping speeds and prices, especially if incentives or other benefits are included in the offering.

Considerations for retailers and parcel carriers

That means retailers – and their parcel delivery partners – need to consider more flexible fulfillment options. These will need to be able to satisfy a consumer who wants a totally different delivery than currently exists. Companies will need to consolidate multiple online purchases from different retailers, have them combined using less packaging and have it delivered as one shipment a week from Tuesday. That’s instead of three separate shipments expedited for delivery tomorrow – or even same-day.

Major retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Target, and The Home Depot are doubling down on offering same-day delivery options. And for parcel delivery providers, it remains a highly fluid and exciting market. New network models are not only welcome, but will be required to meet the ever-evolving demands of shippers.

The explosive growth of package volumes, and consumers’ desire for next-day and, increasingly, same-day delivery, aren’t likely to wane anytime soon. And retailers and parcel carriers will need to pursue creative, innovative ways to keep up with those expectations and meet that demand.

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Valerie Metzker is the Head of Business Development at Roadie, a crowdsourced delivery service that works with consumers, small businesses and national companies across virtually every industry to provide a faster, cheaper, more scalable solution for scheduled, same-day and urgent delivery. With over 150,000 verified drivers, Roadie covers 89% of U.S. households — the largest local same-day delivery footprint in the nation.

manufacturers

3 Privacy Compliance Priorities for Manufacturers in Ecommerce

Manufacturing leaders aren’t exactly diving into the world of ecommerce headfirst. Instead, they’re cautiously dipping one toe at a time into the waters. Several things keep them from going “all in,” so to speak, but one of the most serious is compliance with privacy regulations.

In June 2018, California’s governor signed the California Consumer Privacy Act into law. This year, the law officially went into effect. Under the CCPA, companies must notify users if they intend to monetize their data and give them the option to opt-out.

Its reach will be significant. The law is expected to affect more than 500,000 businesses in the United States alone — and many more around the world.

Those that fail to comply will face hefty fines. So if manufacturers are going to survive in the age of ecommerce, they won’t be able to wade in little by little and take on privacy compliance halfway. Privacy regulations are complicated, and compliance can literally make or break a business.

Ignorance of the Law Is Not a Defense

Most companies that do business online have researched state and national laws to some extent, but data privacy laws aren’t easy to understand. To truly comply with all of their nuances and demands, businesses have to hire additional people, integrate complex processes into internal operations, and put forth massive amounts of effort.

Most got into ecommerce with the hopes that having an online presence would help them avoid headaches and reach customers more easily. But when the market matures, regulations do, too. And while most companies know not to send email newsletters to people who didn’t subscribe or sell customer information without permission, they don’t know the finer details of regulations, much less how they differ by state.

For instance, a prospective client reached out to us after it had ended up in court for violating a state privacy law it didn’t know existed. The company’s website was using an assumptive privacy policy, which assumes that users agree to their data being collected and used by merely using the site. Because the company was using the site to do business in a state that banned these privacy policies, it faced a potential fine of $1,000 per site visit. The company ended up settling the case out of court, but it was still a shocking and scary discovery.

Even for well-meaning manufacturers, ignorance doesn’t hold up in court as a legal defense. Intentional violations can cost up to $7,500 per violation. And unintentional violations can be $2,500 per violation, making even accidents a significant cost. Manufacturers are timid about ecommerce because data privacy and compliance are intimidating. Some never pursue ecommerce for this very reason.

Imagine a small manufacturer that’s decided to sell online. It goes through the entire process of building a site, implementing new operations, and calculating shipping as transactions occur. Then suddenly, it has to be responsible and ready for multiple data checks and data wiping. It’s a lot to take on, both from the operations and the financial perspective. In total, meeting compliance standards could initially cost companies up to $55 billion.

Make Ecommerce Security a Priority

As you implement ecommerce in your manufacturing business or work to strengthen compliance with your current ecommerce system, here are three things to focus on:

1. Ensure that your systems are secured and encrypted. Wherever your ecommerce data lives, you need to be 100% sure it’s secured and encrypted. This is especially important if you’re handling, storing, or passing along credit card information.

Doing this is a combination of several elements. First, have an audit done that considers your specific industry so you can be entirely sure you know what regulations to comply with and to what degree. After that, you’ll have to put additional processes into place, and those processes will likely need additional software and hardware systems to serve their purpose.

We’ve worked with manufacturers where credit card information was being stored on-site and transferred between systems in a way that wasn’t secure. Often, older ERP systems don’t have the necessary security fields. It’s key, then, to move to a modern ERP and integrated ecommerce system to avoid and rectify situations like these.

2. Monitor employee access. Be aware of which employees have access to your development, staging, and production systems. While digital hacking is a security concern, physical access to information is, too. The best way to control who has access to private information is to grant permission to only specific roles and for only certain pieces of the system. A developer shouldn’t be making coding changes and publishing unchecked. A combination of role-based technical security and tight control on physical access is the best way to address this concern.

A manufacturing company often has a small technical team. We’ve seen teams of one that have access to all levels of data in these smaller organizations. Hiring multiple people just for data privacy management and security purposes is a serious financial burden, but you need to make having multiple people designated to multiple parts of the privacy process a priority.

3. Keep up with CCPA and GDPR. Being aware of and keeping up with CCPA and the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation will be essential to staying compliant. If you meet the criteria for CCPA, be sure that you can wipe customers’ information from existence completely upon request.

If your annual gross is more than $25 million or you derive more than half of your annual revenue from selling California residents’ information, you have to comply with the law. This means being transparent about your data-usage policies, giving consumers access to the information you’ve collected about them, offering the choice to sell their information, and being capable of deleting all of their personal information upon request.

Knowing the processes and resources you need to handle compliance obligations is the hard part. You need people who can handle customer requests for data review and deletion and who can remove and keep the right data. Being supported by business and accounting teams will make this process smoother and stronger.

A few years ago, the internet was like the Wild West. Like most wild things, it gets bigger and needs to be tamed and managed. That management is a process. Some laws sound good on paper but will do more harm than good if fully enforced. They can even force honest manufacturers away from ecommerce. Ultimately, we will find a balance with responsible security and data if everyone works together. In the meantime, be aware of laws and make an honest effort to comply with them. There’s plenty of opportunity in ecommerce; you just have to pursue that opportunity with the right systems, team, and security in place.

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Michael Bird is the CEO of Spindustry, a digital agency focused on eCommerce, SharePoint portals, and enterprise websites. He has almost 30 years of experience in interactive development, user behavior, and business solutions.