morai-logistics-blog-supermarket-amazon-go

In last week’s post, we covered the reveal of Amazon Go.

This week, we’ll cover the steps Amazon’s competitors have taken to stay competitive. We will also be going into why with just a teaser video, Amazon may have already won the war for the future of retail.

Before we begin, we need to do a recap about what we know so far.

What the Reveal Video Tells Us

Amazon Go will work like this:

  • Amazon Go aims to give customers a ‘grab and go’ feeling similar to how its digital shop operates.
  • You enter the store by waving your smart phone across a scanner.
  • You will need an Amazon account (likely Amazon Prime) to use the store.
  • If a customer changes their mind about an item, he/she just puts it back.
  • The store will be using AI and facial recognition technology similar to that found in a self-driving car.
  • Seattle will be the first test city which makes sense given the city is also home to Amazon’s head office.

The video is meant to cement the idea of a friction-less retail experience. Simply go in, get what you want, then leave. The video makes the idea believable, influences buyer expectation, and affects the future of the industry.

Let’s look at the strategies Amazon’s competitor’s have been testing to expand their market share.

Competitor Response

Big retail and food companies are using a number of different strategies to stay competitive. Companies such as RetailNext, Euclid, Nomi and others are part of a trend that provides brick-and-mortar stores with analytics that looks similar to website traffic reports. The aggregate data is used to project purchasing trends, decide how to build a layout, and produce more detailed reports for shareholders.

Food heavyweights such as Tyson Foods Inc., Campbell Soup Co. and Hershey are taking a page from UberEATS with their strategy. They are trying to get into the home delivery and meal kit market as Wall Street Journal correspondent Kelsey Gee explains. They are working with online couriers to challenge companies like Blue Apron and HelloFresh that have carved out a $1.5billion market delivering parcels of fresh ingredients.

Wal-Mart is also making an aggressive push into online groceries. Wal-Mart Pickup and Fuel lets customers order their items online and pick them up when they are ready.

Future of Retail—Has Amazon Already Won?

While the strategies used by Amazon’s competitors are innovative, they haven’t had the same media buzz. With just a video, Amazon has created an expectation amongst consumers. They will expect greater convenience in the way the video promised. Companies using alternative models will need to work harder to convince their consumers that their way is superior.

However, being king of retail may not be Amazon’s true goal. Amazon Go is more likely to be a proof-of-concept and a retail model it can sell to other businesses as this video speculates.

Conclusion

The reveal of Amazon Go is recent, but it’s already beginning to disrupt the retail industry. Time will tell which new retail method becomes the standard, but one thing is certain—retail will be undergoing a drastic evolution very soon.

That’s it for us this week! If you liked this blog post, why not subscribe to our blog? If you’re interested in what we do as a 3rd party logistics provider, don’t hesitate to check out our services (as expressed above, we are very pro finding you the lowest total cost!). We’re also in the twittersphere, so give us a follow to get the latest logistics and supply chain news.

Morai-Logistics-Blog-Chocolate-Supply-Chain

There was an article in the Wall Street Journal last week about everyone’s favorite treat. Candy makers Mars Inc., Hershey Co., Modelez International Inc. (maker of Cadbury), and other big food companies are sharing private data on cocoa farming practices and crop yields despite being competitors in an effort to help cocoa farmers see greater yields.

The reason for this is that the surging demand for chocolate is far outpacing the supply available, so they are trying different pilot programs to address the problem. The shortage of cocoa isn’t a new issue. In 2014, a Slate article citing a report in Bloomberg Pursuits, quoted that by the year 2020 there could be a gap of 1 million metric tons between how much cocoa the global population wants and how much farmers can produce. It also surmised that by 2030, that gap would double in size.

There are several factors that are attributed to the gap between demand and supply:

  • Global chocolate consumption has grown steadily since the 1990s, with overall consumption predicted to hit 8.5 million tons in 2020.
  • Consumers in China and India are eating more chocolate, creating a potential two billion more chocoholics according to several articles.
  • Global demand for chocolate rose 0.6% to a record 7.1 million tons in 2015, led by a 5.9% jump in Asia.
  • Dark chocolate, which requires more cocoa to produce than other forms of chocolate, has become more popular according to this Vice article.
  • As of last September, Ghana’s cocoa production fell by 18 percent from the year before. Production is expected to be down again in part thanks to an El Niño that has put Africa into one of its worst droughts in 30 years.
  • The strength of the dollar may also be attributed to cocoa’s success over the past five years writes this article on CNBC.

Sweet Logistics

The plan to address the gaps in supply revolve around enabling farmers to grow greater yields in increasingly difficult growing conditions. To this end, Mars Inc., Hershey’s, and Mondelez International, have been sending agriculture experts abroad to teach farmers how to space young trees at planting, prune them, and apply fertilizer. Mondelez alone has promised $400 million by 2022 towards this project.

Hershey’s and Mars have sent agronomists to cocoa-producing countries to teach farmers how to graft a new cocoa plant to an existing under producing plant. “There is often a tech element involved, too. Hershey’s supplied farmers in Ghana, the world’s second-largest cocoa producer, with weather and marketing information by text message, and those who followed the advice produced 46 percent more cocoa” writes Vice.

Time will tell if the efforts will be enough to accommodate the growing demand from the millions of future chocoholics around the world. 2016 isn’t a very encouraging year for the chocolate industry as many of the same problems plaguing it have carried over into the new year. However, the efforts by the companies involved look like they may yield the needed results in the long term thereby likely preventing any sort of future “chocopocalypse”.

That’s it for us this week! If you liked this blog post, why not subscribe to our blog? If you’re interested in what we do as a 3rd party logistics provider, don’t hesitate to check out our services (as expressed above, we are very pro finding you the lowest total cost!). We’re also in the twittersphere, so give us a follow to get the latest logistics and supply chain news!

Morai-Logistics-Blog-the-dabbawalas

Restaurants offering delivery of their items for a cost is nothing too special in most large cities. However, the service is typically only offered on orders over a certain amount and only for some items and not others.

What would you say then if we told you than in Mumbai, India you could have your food delivered to you every day for a monthly fee of around $10? The service would also be guaranteed rain or shine, and even during more extreme situations such as monsoons and political strife which is only part of the reason why its growing at a steady rate of 5 to 10 percent a year.

The best part of all is that this delivery service doesn’t have a minimum amount that needs to be ordered before it applies as it isn’t tied to any restaurants. It is instead a service by the dabbawalas (“those who carry boxes”), and they specialize in receiving home cooked meals from a family’s home in a tiffin (a circular silver tin with multiple compartments) and delivering the lunch to a working spouse who could be several miles away.

Over 200,000 meals a day are collected by around 5,000 dabbawalas in the morning from their clients’ homes.

The lunches are sorted according to where they came from, and where they are intended to go. Each tiffin is labelled with an alpha numeric code and loaded onto city trains before traversing the city’s maze of over 22 million before being handed off to local dabbawalas who complete the last part of the delivery. After the food is eaten, the tiffins are collected by dabbawalas and make a return trip to their respective homes.

What’s most impressive is that although the majority of the dabbawalas are semi-literate or illiterate, mistakes are rarely made. Their delivery system has been awarded a six sigma level of efficiency. That means they make around one mistake in every six million deliveries. The incredible level of efficiency and precision of their delivery system has even garnered the attention FedEx and was the topic of a Harvard Business School case-study.

Organization and Logistics

The organization of this dabbawalas is very interesting as its largely decentralized with no organizational structure, managerial layers or explicit control mechanisms. Dabbawalas are divided into sub-groups of fifteen to 25, each supervised by four mukadams. The mukadams are familiar with the colors and codings used in the complex logistics process.

Their key responsibility is sorting tiffins but they play a critical role in resolving disputes; maintaining records of receipts and payments; acquiring new customers; and training junior dabbawalas. Each group is financially independent but coordinates with others for deliveries. The process is competitive at the customers’ end and united at the delivery end. The dabbawala business has been adapting well to changes in the big city including going online. Customers can now log onto their website to access their service.

That’s it for us this week! If you liked this blog post, why not subscribe to our blog? If you’re interested in what we do as a 3rd party logistics provider, don’t hesitate to check out our services (as expressed above, we are very pro finding you the lowest total cost!). We’re also in the twittersphere, so give us a follow to get the latest logistics and supply chain news!

We hope you’re all squeezing out that last little bit of summer that’s left! We thought we’d kick off September with a feature eBook on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or UAVs, more commonly known as drones. Tracing back to 1849, drones are a year away from being a century-old technology.

In order to celebrate a little early, enjoy our eBook below!

5 Ways UAVs Are Revolutionizing the World

Morai-eBook-UVA-Drones-Logistics

That’s it for us this week! If you liked this blog post, why not subscribe to our blog? If you’re interested in what we do as a 3rd party logistics provider, don’t hesitate to check out our services (as expressed above, we are very pro finding you the lowest total cost!). We’re also in the twittersphere, so give us a follow to get the latest logistics and supply chain news!

We hope you have been enjoying this summer so far! As we are now in the latter half of the warmest and sunniest of seasons, we would like to take the time to focus on some summer-themed logistics and supply chain related news.

Nova Scotia Aims to Modernize Seafood Industry Trading

Source: Wikimedia Commons
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Daily Business Buzz recently released an article on how Ocean Executive, a Bridgewater, Nova Scotia based company, is developing an online platform aimed at improving supply chain efficiency for the seafood industry. Ocean Executive has received a $100k seed investment from Innovacorp, a Nova Scotia based venture capital organization to fuel the idea and help it come to fruition.

Mikel Budreski notes that the platform will help streamline the sales and marketing process for a wide range of seafood companies worldwide. Ocean Executive’s platform seeks to allows users, be it buyers or sellers, to connect directly to each other and their respective products and services in real-time via a an auction marketplace (a function that can be either public or private). This allows users to receive live pricing and market data for more efficient and transparent trading practices:

All players in the supply chain stand to benefit from true and fair market pricing, whether it’s fishermen, processors, wholesalers, distributors, traders, brokers, retailers or large restaurant chains.
– Mikel Budreski, President of Ocean Executive

Greg Phipps of Innovacorp notes that the seafood industry is still using outdated an inefficient processes to buy and sell products and that this technology being developed by Ocean Executive has the potential to modernize this dated trading system. This is indeed a trend that is happening with regards to the logistics and supply chain industry as a whole; combining technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) to help optimize the industry is indeed proving to be a strategy that is here to stay.

Coconut Water Affecting the Coconut Supply Chain

Source: Wikimedia Commons
Source: Wikimedia Commons
You see it in almost every grocery store; some places even have a whole section dedicated to the number of variations, flavours, and brands. We’re talking of course about coconut water! Whether you love it or hate it, this product has made our way into store shelves globally.

Tessa Riley of The Guardian gives the scoop on the coconut water craze and how it affect s the supply chain. This spur in popularity is largely facilitated by North America, now the biggest global market for coconut water. Originally seen as a useless byproduct by coconut farmers, and normally reserved for exotic holidays, the North American market has really taken coconut water to the next level. From the sales report of the top three most popular brands going from almost nothing in 2004 to a whopping $400 million dollar industry in just under a decade (i.e. 2013).

For a bit of history on coconut farming, traditionally coconuts were harvested for their ‘copra,’ or meat, which is then used to extract coconut oil. Coconut water is notorious for being hard to preserve as it starts decomposing as soon as the coconut water is cut. Thus, coconut farmers see it as a useless byproduct. Since the leap in demand though, initiatives have been taken to allow coconut farmers to consider the production of more diverse economic return like coconut water, which has a much higher return on investment per coconut for the farmers. Lack of technology and limited knowledge is the biggest wall for the coconut farmer though, despite the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation promoting best practices on small-scale production of bottled coconut water.

This gap between the coconut farmer and the consumer along the supply chain is growing and if the coconut water industry intends to stay sustainable, there needs to be some way to bridge the gap that would allow coconut farmers to leverage knowledge and technology to allow them to produce the great demand for coconut water.

Cashew Juice? Not Just a Nuts Idea

Source: Wikimedia Commons
Source: Wikimedia Commons
PepsiCo has started an initiative to test out the market for a new line of products in order to solve the dilemma of a major issue in the extraction and production of cashew nuts: heaps of agricultural waste. Leon Kaye of Triple Pundit gives us an insight into what Pepsi has planned to alleviate this waste problem.

When extracting nuts from cashew plants farmers usually throw away the fruit attached to the nut. Known as the ‘cashew apple,’ this nut is full of Vitamin C as well as other essential nutrients. It also has many other potential uses such as: being another form of meat substitute, used for the production of alcohol, or animal feed.

PepsiCo has started work in India to collaborate with farmers to source cashew apples and use it to create the next iteration of specialty juices, along the same lines of coconut water, pomegranate juice, and hazelnut milk. This comes with a new set of logistics challenges though, mainly that of storage, transport, and shelf life. The fruits are fleshy and must be collected from the ground (not the trees), and must be processed within 24 hours (if the nut is removed before collection, then the time frame is shortened to a mere six hours). Temperature is also important; they must be stored in containers that do not get cooler than 5 degrees. Furthermore, the intended market for where Pepsi wants to sell is about 3000 km from the growers’ sourcing stores (i.e. Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro).

Testing it out in both the South American and Indian market to start, PepsiCo hopes to eventually expand it other markets across the globe.

That’s it for us this week! If you liked this blog post, why not subscribe to our blog? If you’re interested in what we do as a 3rd party logistics provider, don’t hesitate to check out our services (as expressed above, we are very pro finding you the lowest total cost!). We’re also in the twittersphere, so give us a follow to get the latest logistics and supply chain news!

DictionaryOur mission to provide little tidbits on the vast library of logistics terminology month by month continues! We love to educate those who are interested in logistics to know more in manageable chunks. This month’s Logistics Glossary Week post is on food logistics. What kind of terminology along the supply chain are used when transporting goods? This post on food logistics terminology is going to focus on regulating edible perishable goods.

Food Logistics – Part I

One of the main challenges for companies that have to deal with food transport is ensuring that the food coming from the origin stays fresh throughout its journey to its destination, no matter what the distance. On top of that, these perishable food items also have to arrive with enough time to be on store shelves and stay unspoiled for a particular amount of time to be bought and consumed by customers. Below are some terms that are commonly used in food logistics related to maintaining a level of standard (from origin and throughout the supply chain) for food once it hits the store shelves.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Definition: The Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, is an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. The FDA serves to protect and promote public health of food safety, pharmaceutical drugs (both prescription and over-the counter), as well as various other consumable goods like tobacco products, medical and veterinary products and devices, etc.

Every country has their own set of rules and regulations (e.g. the Canadian Food Inspection Agency enforces Canadian Food and Drug Regulations) and it is important to consider these as a logistics company as some differences can alter how a product should be transported and handled. This is why when doing food-related cross-border logistics, it is important to be aware of these governing bodies and their regulatory requirements.

Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)

Definition: Standard Operating Procedure, or SOP, in the general sense is a detailed written set of instructions for a process that must be followed to ensure standardization and compliance.

In the world of food logistics, the SOP of food is based on the type of food product and the recommendations of the governing body that regulates its best practices. This is important as it is the responsibility of companies that offer food or perishable edible goods to be able to ensure a consistent and desired outcome for the end consumer.

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP)

Definition: Hazard analysis and critical control points, or HACCP, is a food safety system based on the principles of identification, evaluation, and hazard control. It is more of a systematic preventative approach to food safety, as opposed to a finished product inspection.

Time and Temperature Control for Safety (TCS)

Definition: Time and temperature control for safety food items, or TCS foods, are as the term suggest; food that needs time and temperature control to prevent a product from becoming unsafe due to biological hazards.

Food that is normally regarded as TCS foods are those that are high in protein, are moist, or are moderately to slightly acidic. Some regulating bodies recommend that these products be labeled.

Source: foodprotection.org
Source: foodprotection.org

The above example is from the International Association of Food Protection and serves as a label for potentially hazardous food that requires time/temperature control for safety.

That’s it for us this week! If you liked this blog post, why not subscribe to our blog? If you’re interested in what we do as a 3rd party logistics provider, don’t hesitate to check out our services (as expressed above, we are very pro finding you the lowest total cost!). We’re also in the twittersphere, so give us a follow to get the latest logistics and supply chain news!