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The Transformation of Logistics

17 May

Logistics is a key factor in determining a company’s success, since it impacts on delivery times, inventory levels, sales levels, and customer satisfaction. As a definition, logistics encompasses the activities concerned with efficiently delivering raw materials, parts, semi-finished items, and finished products to designated places, at designated times, and in proper condition.

It may be undertaken by any member of a distribution channel, from producer to consumer. Logistics involves such functions as customer service, shipping, warehousing, inventory control, private trucking-fleet operations, packaging, receiving, materials handling, and plant, warehouse, and store location planning.

In recent years, due to the advances in technology and the growth of Internet transactions, logistics has been undergoing a rapid transformation. According to 2Flow (an Irish outsourced logistics solutions provider):

“Digital developments have provoked a transformation in what consumers expect from their product/service providers. These progressions have effected all aspects of professional business – in particular, the logistics industry. Over the past number of years, logistics professionals have made the shift onto digital platforms so that they can monitor and expand their operations. We created this infographic that outlines some of the biggest and most prominent trends within the logistics industry. Let’s take a look!”

 

Click the image for a larger version of the infographic.


 

Another Technological Innovation from Amazon

3 May

Not only is Amazon the leader in online retailing overall, it continues to develop innovative technology. Among its already popular innovations are the Kindle, Kindle Fire, TV Fire Stick, and Echo (Alexa).

Due to its getting more heavily involved in apparel retailing, Amazon has just patented a unique new technology-driven, custom-clothing process.

As Nick Wingfield reports for the New York Times:

“This year, Amazon will surpass Macy’s to become the largest seller of apparel in America, by several analysts’ estimates. It is looking at ways to keep expanding, too. Amazon is exploring the possibility of selling custom-fit clothing, tailored to the more precise measurements of customers, and it has considered acquiring clothing manufacturers to further expand its presence in the category.”

“If there are tipping points in retail — moments when shopping behavior swings decisively in one direction — there’s a strong case to be made that apparel is reaching one now, with broad implications for jobs, malls, and shopping districts.”

Also for the New York Times, Wingfield and Kelly Couturier describe Amazon’s customization effort:

“In April [2017], Amazon received an intriguing patent for an ‘on demand’ apparel manufacturing system, which can quickly fill online orders for suits, dresses and other garments. Here’s how it would work. (1) The process starts when customers submit online orders to the retailer for shirts and other articles of clothing, accessories, bedding, curtains, and towels. The patterns, printed onto rolls of fabric or other material, are arranged to reduce scrap.”

“(2) A “cut engine” then carves out the various pattern pieces, while cameras analyze them to make sure they aren’t being distorted in the process. (3) A robotic arm with a mechanical gripper places all the pieces into a tote on a conveyor belt. (4) The conveyor belt delivers the totes to a sewing station, where ‘an attendant and/or automated sewing machine’ stitches the item together. The items are then examined at a quality control station, packed up and shipped to customers.”

 

Click the image for many other figures that visually highlight Amazon’s customization process.

Source: Amazon 

 

Five Fashionistas That Are Thriving

27 Apr

Although many fashion firms are undergoing difficult times, there are some bright spots among specialized fashionistas  and related companies.

Fast Company has identified five of them:

“The following five companies illustrate the power of building a brand atop an authoritative editorial voice, whether it’s in the form of viral videos and lifestyle blogs or influencer ‘grams and disappearing Snaps. They’re also fostering conversations with consumers—sneakerheads, fashionistas, and beauty obsessives alike—that inform everything from product design to distribution and marketing. In their hands, content has become a robust engine for commerce.”

  • CLIQUE MEDIA GROUP — “For parlaying fashion advice into retail gold. Clique Media leaped out of the digital world and into the physical one in January 2016 with a clothing line for Target. The millennial-minded Who What Wear collection offers runway trends at big-box prices ($34.99 for velvet pants, $44.99 for a cape blazer) and keeps up with the frenetic pace of fashion by committing to 12 updates a year. It’s a natural evolution for the company, which grew out of the Who What Wear blog started by Elle magazine veterans Katherine Power and Hillary Kerr.”
  • GLOSSIER  — “For collaborating with customers to create cult cosmetics. The beauty industry has generally flowed in one direction: Executives in glass towers decide which products they’re going to put on shelves, and women buy them (or don’t). Glossier founder and CEO Emily Weiss has turned this process into a two-way conversation by asking readers of her beauty news and reviews website, Into the Gloss, to weigh in on every aspect of her skin-care and makeup company.” 
  • HYPEBEAST — “For uniting sneakerheads into a lucrative demographic. ‘In the world of hype, in the world of cool, you need to be the coolest platform selling the coolest products,’ says Kevin Ma, the unflappable founder of the Hong Kong–based streetwear site Hypebeast. Championing edgy brands such as Raf Simons, Vetements, and Hood by Air, Ma’s site has grown from a simple sneakerhead review hub (created in his Vancouver bedroom) to a multifaceted arbiter of all manner of urban fashion and culture that includes Hypebeast, the year-old female-focused Hypebae, and an online marketplace called HBX that sells everything from Yeezy Boosts to Leica cameras.” 
  • KENZO — “For ripping up the seams of fashion marketing. When actress Margaret Qualley shot lasers from her fingers during a dance routine in the Spike Jonze–directed short film Kenzo World, that’s likely when marketers went slack-jawed. Commissioned to celebrate the launch of the French fashion house Kenzo’s Kenzo World fragrance, the spot (which went viral) and won a top industry award, led to a wildly successful soft launch of the perfume — no paid media or marketing required. (Parent company LVMH cited the campaign as helping drive the 8% growth in its perfumes and cosmetics division in 2016.)”
  • REWARDSTYLE — “For giving influencers a must-have accessory. Founder Amber Venz Box has channeled her frustration as a fashion blogger who wanted to make more money into a full suite of back-end publishing and tracking tools. Today, RewardStyle allows her and her fellow bloggers and Instagram personalities the chance to earn commissions on the products they promote. ‘Our mission is making [influencers] as economically successful as possible,’ she says. Users who like a RewardStyle influencer’s ’gram receive an E-mail on where to buy the featured look.”

 
Click the image to read more about these five firms.

“There [is] no reason to be shy. The world is hungry for new things,” says Kenzo co-Creative Director Carol Lim of the approach she and Humberto Leon take to content marketing. [Photo: Pari Dukovic]


 

How Dominant Is Amazon Online?

24 Apr

It’s no surprise to any of us that Amazon is by far the leading online U.S. retailer. But would you be surprised to learn that Apple’s most recent annual online revenues exceeded those of Walmart? Or to learn that Amazon’s online revenues for its most recent year were greater than the next 14 U.S. retailers COMBINED (according to eMarketer)?

In the following chart compiled by us from eMarketer, E-commerce and store revenues are shown for the 15 leading online U.S. retailers. Highlighted in the chart are E-commerce revenues, growth in E-commerce revenues, E-commerce revenues as a % of company revenues, store sales and store sales growth, and overall revenues and revenue growth for the firms’ most recent reported year.  [Note: The table shows that Amazon had more than $40 billion in B2B revenues].

Among store-based retailers in the chart, E-revenues as a % of company revenues are highest for Williams-Sonoma, Nordstrom, Macy’s, and Gap. They are lowest for Walmart, Costco, Target, and Home Depot. And while E-commerce sales grew for most firms in the chart, store revenues  declined for more retailers.

Click here to see the same types of data from eMarketer on many more retailers. Click the chart for a larger version of it.

 


 

What’s Ahead for the Subscription Box Service?

13 Mar

Are subscription boxes a fad or sustainable business model? According to Jameson Morris, a specialist in the field: “A subscription box is a recurring, physical delivery of niche-oriented products packaged as an experience and designed to offer additional value on top of the actual retail products contained in a box.”

Morrison further notes that to be considered a subscription box service, these elements are needed: 

“Must be a physical delivery (digital subscriptions can’t be classified as a subscription box). 

Must be a recurring subscription/membership (of any term or frequency). 

Must feature one or more of the following value propositions:

Surprise (at least 1 or more items in the box must be unknown to the customer before delivery). Discovery (slightly different than ‘Surprise’. Discovery-oriented subscriptions don’t have to have ‘mystery’ items, it’s more about consumers ‘discovering’ items they’ve never seen before).

Curation (a thoughtfully picked variety of products related to a specific niche or category). 

Savings (a clear savings on the price paid for the box versus the total retail value of the items inside). 

Thoughtful Presentation (From custom packaging to the way products are arranged inside the box). 

Convenience (convenience cannot be implied solely by the fact that it’s a recurring ‘auto-delivery’. Rather, think of the fresh ingredient subscription boxes like Blue Apron or Green Chef–they deliver convenience in the form of pre-prepared ingredients and recipes).”

 

According to eMarketer:

“A March survey from AYTM Market Research of 1,000 US consumers showed that while a little over half of respondents said they have used at least one subscription service, almost two-fifths who had used one said they had canceled.”

“’To stay the distance, brands using a subscription model need a very strong point of difference and superior customer service,’ said Sarah Boumphrey, global lead of economies and consumers at Euromonitor International. She added that subscription services also need to come up with other avenues of revenue. For instance, Birchbox, a leader in the space, has brick-and-mortar stores.”

“Differentiation will be even more crucial, as there are signs that suggest the industry’s growth is slowing. Traffic to subscription service sites in January rose 18%, according to Hitwise. Though that’s healthy growth, it’s well off the 56% gain registered a year earlier.”

 
Click the image to read more.


 

Proud to Be Part of the Hofstra Community

5 Mar

Members of the Hofstra community came together to make a message assuring all students that they are welcome on Hofstra’s campus. Representatives from faculty, administration, athletics, student affairs, and a wide variety of student leaders want all students from across the globe to know #YouAreWelcomeHere
 
 

 

Is the Stock Market Over-Exuberant for Snap?

3 Mar

Snap Inc. is a U.S.-based technology and social media company that was started in 2011 .Products include the popular Snapchat app and Spectacles eye wear; it also owns the Bitmoji app.

Yesterday (March 2, 2017) was a big day for Snap Inc. and the tech industry overall because of Snap’s highly anticipated IPO (initial public offering) on the New York Stock Exchange. Some analysts are excited at the popularity of this IPO; others wonder whether investors are being overly exuberant. What do YOU think?

As reported by CNBC:

“Snap soared as much as 45% when it opened for trading at $24 a share on Thursday. Market makers at the New York Stock Exchange indicated the stock was set to open from $23.50 to $24.50 a share. At 200 million shares, Snap raised $3.4 billion and was valued at nearly $24 billion as of its pricing. Sources had told CNBC earlier this week that investors were expecting a pricing of $17 to $18 per share, above the $14 to $16 per share range originally given by the company. The IPO is 12 times oversubscribed, sources said Thursday morning, meaning that there were 12 times more orders for than there were shares offered. Some managers told CNBC they got as little as 2 percent of what they were asking for.”

 

Yet, Felix Richter commented thusly for Statista:

“Snap’s IPO valuation of $24 billion is quite a tall order for a company that has never turned a profit and warned investors that it never might. The company is now valued at 59 times its total revenue for 2016. Even for a fast-growing tech company that is a lot. Facebook in comparison has a price-to-sales ratio of around 14. As our chart illustrates, Snap is valued considerably higher than many American household names. That includes companies such as Ralph Lauren and Harley-Davidson that have been around for decades and probably will be for decades to come.”

Infographic: Snap Is More Valuable Than These Household Names | Statista You will find more statistics at Statista

 

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