Logistics & Supply Chain ‘research picks of the week’



Each week our research team pick their most interesting logistics & supply chain ‘research picks of the week

28th May 2020

Coronavirus: Chinese retail giant Alibaba sees ‘recovery’ after virus

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba said it has seen a “steady recovery” in the country since March but warned that the path to an economic rebound remains uncertain

Will the coronavirus pandemic finally kill off global supply chains?

The expansion of supply chains may have decelerated due to factors including the 2008 financial crisis and the US-China trade war, but it has not stopped or gone into reverse. Could Covid-19 be the blow that finally shatters them? Global goods trade is in freefall. The World Trade Organization forecasts this will contract between 13% and 32% this year. But what are the lessons for companies and governments? [Subscription required].

Almost half of UK adults have been receiving more parcels during the coronavirus pandemic

New Royal Mail research reveals the full extent of Britain’s online shopping habits during lockdown, as nearly half (45%) of UK adults have been receiving more parcel deliveries since measures began.

Shipping and logistics sector steps up blockchain deployment

It has been announced that the shipping and logistics sector has accelerated the deployment of blockchain in the wake of the spread of the coronavirus lockdown. Ports operator DP World is now joining shipping company Maersk and others in a blockchain platform whose aim is to limit the sector’s costly paper trail.

21st May 2020
The pandemic has driven several changes, including a shift to online, customers cooking more from scratch and buying more casual clothing. Customers “may never shop the same way again” after the coronavirus crisis, Marks and Spencer’s boss has said.
UK fashion brand Superdry, which in 2019 turned over more than £870m, has always sorted its 60,000 stock keeping units mainly by manual processes. Now the company has launched a major initiative to roll out intelligent goods-to-person robotic systems across its international network of regional distribution centres.
With shoppers forced to stay indoors, demand for new clothes has collapsed. Although some retailers are still operating online, revenue streams for many of the world’s largest companies have been wiped out, with rent and wages eating into cash supplies and stockpiling up in warehouses [Subscription required].
The COVID-19 crisis has added new layers of unpredictability to supply chains. Industry executives are having to rethink every aspect of operations and address potentially permanent shifts in consumer behaviour.
15th May 2020
DispatchTrack, providing a platform for last-mile deliveries to help companies mimic Amazon-like experiences for themselves by planning and tracking deliveries more easily, has closed a $144m investment — its first-ever funding. To date, DispatchTrack supports more than 60m deliveries per year.
One result of the coronavirus crisis looks likely to be a remaking of global supply chains. An increased focus on security of supply, amid rising tensions between China and the rest of the world, should lead to the creation of better-connected local supply hubs. However, not all companies might be best placed for this transition. [Subscription required].

In the past decade, the drop shipping business from China has seen incredible success mainly because of competitive product pricing and low shipping costs and capabilities. These benefits have helped independent vendors to make a good profit from sourcing and reselling products using Alibaba-owned AliExpress. This once lucrative model, however, might soon be ancient history.

The pandemic will permanently change the auto industry

The author argues that plunging sales could force factories to close and lead to takeovers and mergers, but also bolster sales of electric cars.

8th May 2020
According to the author, further to Canberra’s call for an inquiry into the origins of coronavirus, Beijing has accused Australia of teaming up with Washington in “a political campaign against China”. Now Australian companies are worrying that the profits they make by selling things to China could be disrupted by the worst diplomatic dispute between the nations in a generation. [Subscription required]
Imperial Logistics announced on May 4, 2020 that it would sell its European shipping business to Germany’s Häfen und Güterverkehr Köln AG for an enterprise value of €225m ($246m) as it overhauls its operations.
Marks & Spencer has extended its 30-minute home delivery service. Customers can now order from a range of about 130 M&S food and household items through Deliveroo.
The World Trade Organization Secretariat has published a new report looking at how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected e-commerce. It notes the increased use of e-commerce as consumers adapt to new measures and also draws attention to several challenges, such as the need to bridge the digital divide within and across countries.
1st May 2020
The author argues that AGCO, a global manufacturer and distributor of agricultural equipment and replacement parts present in geographies such as China and Italy, represents an example of an agile supply chain. Particularly, the company took proactive steps to address the coronavirus crisis as early as January.
Supermarket chain Sainsbury’s plans to transform its supply chain with the implementation of a new AI-powered ‘self-learning’ platform from US technology group Blue Yonder. Sainsbury’s hopes to use the system to improve performance by learning about customer behaviours.
According to Upply, the coronavirus epidemic has highlighted the need to change the container shipping model. Introducing mega container vessels and then slowing them down to reduce overcapacity now looks like a strategy that is bound to fail.
Unipart expects to see “continued growth in sales and profitability in 2020” despite the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2019, the company took over responsibility for the provision of logistics services for the NHS Supply Chain. It is currently delivering supplies to NHS organisations on the front line.
24th April 2020
Although 2020 may be a “lost year” for earnings growth due to the coronavirus pandemic, the CEO of XPO Logistics expects a global economic recovery to come “in fits and starts” as social distancing requirements eventually relax and businesses reopen. [Subscription required].
According to a survey conducted by Shipping and Freight Resource and sponsored by Ocean Insights, the chaos caused by Covid-19 will lead to far greater use of technology, which until now has lagged in logistics compared with other industries. Some 67% of shipping and freight professionals plan to invest in technology following the pandemic.
Reuters has been informed that Alibaba Group plans to buy at least 10% of Yunda Holding Co Ltd, marking the e-commerce giant’s fifth investment in a large courier.
Amazon is preparing to launch an ultra-fast grocery delivery service in the UK, trade magazine the Grocer reported on Friday, citing suppliers. The service, Ultra Fast Fresh, involves retrofitting nine existing depots within the country to handle fresh produce and fulfil grocery orders within hours, the magazine reported.
17th April 2020
Japan has earmarked $2.2bn of its record economic stimulus package to help its manufacturers shift production out of China as the coronavirus disrupts supply chains between the major trading partners. [Subscription required].
China’s biggest non-state-owned courier SF Holding has reported soaring revenue growth by diving straight into the eye of the new coronavirus epidemic. Its competitors, instead, experienced slowing deliveries.
The auto industry – already facing several problems including lengthy factory shutdowns and depressed new vehicle demand – is starting to sound the alarm about a potential used car price collapse that could have far-reaching consequences for manufacturers, lenders and rental companies.
The port backups that have paralyzed food shipments around the world for weeks aren’t getting much better. In fact, in some countries including the Philippines, they’re getting worse.
10th April 2020
Commercial property agents CBRE claim that the volume of demand in the industrial and logistics sector in Dublin rose in Q1 2020. The market experienced a spike in short-term requirements for logistics and cold storage facilities from the grocery and pharmaceutical sectors due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
World trade is expected to fall by between 13% and 32% in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupts normal economic activity and life around the world.
Companies should pull out the stops to support critical suppliers now and prepare to resume production. [Subscription required].
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released February 2020 data for global air freight markets showing that demand, measured in cargo tonne kilometres, decreased by 1.4% compared to the same period in 2019.
3rd April 2020

Coronavirus: Amazon workers strike over virus protection

Amazon has fired a New York warehouse worker who organised a protest over the safety precautions taken by the firm to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. This prompted a rebuke by the state’s attorney general, who called for an investigation into whether it violated worker rights.

Online grocers fail to shine during biggest test yet

Disruptions have laid bare the limitations of online grocery delivery at a time when customers are demanding more of it, and retailers around the world are working to make it more profitable. [Subscription required].

Countries Are Starting to Hoard Food, Threatening Global Trade

Grocery shoppers are hoarding pantry staples, but some governments are also securing domestic food supplies during the coronavirus pandemic. As Kazakhstan, Serbia and Vietnam have stopped export of some products, some people are wondering whether this is the start of a wave of food nationalism that will further disrupt supply chains and trade flows.

UPS, FedEx suspend service guarantees citing coronavirus impact

FedEx and UPS have suspended their respective service guarantees last week, citing expected delays and disruptions related to the global coronavirus response.

27th March 2020

US tech giants team up to tackle coronavirus

Amazon is teaming up with researchers funded by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates to pick up and deliver coronavirus test kits.

Instacart plans to hire 300,000 new workers to meet surging demand

Grocery delivery service Instacart plans to hire 300,000 more full-service workers over the next three months to keep up with surging demand spurred by the coronavirus, the company announced on 23 March 2020.

Force majeure: getting it wrong can be a very expensive business

DHL Global Forwarding has declared force majeure on its sea and air freight contracts, allowing it to modify its services despite the agreements. Invoking force majeure allows companies to protect themselves from legal responsibility, however, insurance companies advise caution before invoking the clause.

Xiaomi overtaking Huawei shows how the coronavirus could change logistics for smartphone vendors

Xiaomi overtook Huawei as the world’s third-largest smartphone producer – showing the need for vendors in other markets to invest in logistics.

20th March 2020

Amazon suspends non-essential shipments amid COVID-19 crisis

Amazon is suspending inbound shipments of non-essential products from sellers. Health products and household goods will continue to be shipped, and the company will still fill orders for low-priority products already in its warehouses. However, new stock will not be added until at least April 5th. 

 European car plants close as industry crisis deepens

PSA and Fiat Chrysler announced that they will shut factories as demand tumbles and supply chains are disrupted by the coronavirus spread. [Subscription required].

Goldman sees China’s economy shrinking 9% in first quarter amid coronavirus outbreak

Citing “strikingly weak” economic data in January and February, Goldman Sachs said on 17 March that China’s economy will likely shrink 9% in the first quarter, while a previous forecast estimated 2.5% growth.

EU urges members to allow freight despite virus controls

On 16 March, the European Union urged member states to prevent bottlenecks forming at internal frontiers and to allow freight through despite reinforced health controls during the coronavirus outbreak.

13th March

Shipping line CMA CGM predicts China recovery as its bonds dive

CMA CGM has said shipments from China are returning to normal, even as investors bet against the French group’s solvency. Furthermore, the company said it feared the economic shock was shifting from China to Europe. [Subscription required]

Korean Air president says coronavirus threatens the airline’s survival

Early this week Korean Air, Asia partner of Delta, warned that the coronavirus outbreak could threaten its survival after more than half of the world restricted passengers entering from South Korea. To date, the company has parked about two-thirds of the planes in its passenger fleet.

EU wants goods to be more durable and repairable

The European Commission has adopted a new plan, which focuses on the design and production for a circular economy. The Commission said it wants to transform the way products in the EU are made, so that they can be recyclable, repairable and designed to last longer.

Delivery firm Hermes to pay gig workers if they must self-isolate

Despite not normally providing sick pay to its self-employed couriers, Hermes has announced a £1m support fund after coronavirus warnings from trade unions.

6th March

Heathrow third runway ruled illegal over climate change

Plans for a third runway at Heathrow airport in the UK have been ruled illegal by the court of appeal because ministers did not adequately take into account the government’s commitments to tackle the climate crisis.

UAE online sales feed demand for industrial property

It has been estimated that the Gulf markets could generate between $2.7bn to $4.5bn in e-commerce sales growth until 2022. This surge is not hurting all types of brick-and-mortar, as there’s one category – warehousing and logistics – that is doing quite well because of it.

Mercado Libre to invest $420m in Mexico targeting rival Amazon

Online retailer Mercado Libre, operating across Latin America in countries such as Brazil, Argentina and Mexico, will invest $42m in Mexico in 2020, as part of its battle with Amazon to gain a larger slice of the country’s online retailing market.

Coronavirus: China reports surprising rail freight growth in February despite factory activity tumbling

China Railway said that rail cargoes rose 4.5% in February. This is despite the coronavirus outbreak forcing large parts of the country into lockdown, and the official purchasing managers’ indices for manufacturing and services tumbling to all-time lows.

28th February

Airport Authority Hong Kong welcomes budgeted measures for cargo

Airport Authority Hong Kong has welcomed the measures announced in the Financial Secretary’s 2020-21 Budget for supporting the development of the aviation industry and air cargo business, including the redevelopment of the Air Mail Centre at Hong Kong International Airport.

Amazon Axes Delivery Partners in U.S.; Hundreds of Jobs Cut

Amazon is severing ties with small delivery firms around the country in an effort to eliminate partners that aren’t meeting its standards. It has been estimated that the move put at least 1,300 drivers out of work.

JD steps up development of smart logistics system

JD has ramped up efforts to develop an underground smart logistics system that makes use of subterranean tracks and integrated municipal pipe corridors to deliver parcels, with the aim of ensuring smooth and efficient urban logistics with minimal disruption to daily life.

Uber Freight brings facility rating system to its app in Europe

Uber Freight is bringing a new rating system on its platform. Pioneered on its ride-sharing app, the system could see operators of road freight warehouse and distribution facilities in Europe rated by truck drivers

21st February

Spain’s watchdog probes Amazon to see if mail service rules apply

The Spanish antitrust watchdog announced it had opened a probe into whether Amazon operates as a mail service in the country, in which case it would have to comply with specific rules.

Parcel machines with cold storage launched in Finland

The first robotic parcel machines with cold storage have been launched in Finland. The service is aimed at customers wanting to pick up their online groceries.

Apple Outlook Cut Renews Questions About China Over-Reliance

For the second time in as many years, Apple has had to temper its sales outlook because of unexpected shifts in China, including a trade war with the US and the outbreak of the coronavirus. [Subscription required]

UPU: we are open to dialogue

On February 13, 2020 the Director General of the Universal Postal Union (UPU) opened the UPU’s High Level Forum on wider postal sector engagement to announce the UN specialised agency was open to change

14th February

UberFreight: Slowing Growth in Q4

On February 6, 2020, Uber Freight published its fiscal year 2019 financial results, showing that the company’s revenue growth has effectively come to a halt. After grossing $218m in Q3, Q4 came in at $219m. This is the second time Uber Freight’s revenue growth has plateaued having done so Q3 2018 – Q1 2019 previously.

Contactless delivery, online grocery shopping and other ways home-bound Chinese are trying to get food and stay safe

In China, more people are stuck at home as they wait out the coronavirus outbreak, giving some delivery and e-commerce companies an opportunity since people are buying more groceries online. As authorities cut off some roads or limit access to apartment complexes, the virus has also created challenges for couriers and logistics companies that can no longer send packages straight to customers’ doors.

Dublin becomes first Capital City globally with zero emissions postal delivery

An Post is the first postal service provider ever to attain zero carbon emission delivery status in a capital city. With the addition of Ireland’s first ever 7.5 tonne Electric Trucks to its existing electric fleet, every An Post letter and parcel delivery in Dublin City Centre is emission free, avoiding 450 tonnes of CO2. An Post’s CEO David McRedmond is now calling on organisations to follow suit and deliver a 100% Green Delivery Zone in Dublin.

British Ports jostle for freeport status

The government has launched a consultation on creating up to 10 freeports with special tariff and duty status – an idea ministers argue will fuel growth, but critics say could encourage money laundering and other crimes.

7th February

Royal Mail says turnround targets are under threat from strikesRoyal Mail said it may fail to achieve the targets of a company shake-up within the planned timeframe as it faces the threat of further strike action amid persistent tensions with its workers. The company warned that unless it made “significant progress” with its overhaul in the coming year, its ability to meet its three-year turnround plan targets would be “compromised”. [Subscription required]Deliveries stranded across Australia as Toll confirms ransomware attackAustralian logistics company Toll Group has confirmed the “cybersecurity incident” it suffered on Friday 31 January was ransomware. The attack led to the company’s decision to immediately isolate and disable some systems in order to limit the spread of the attack and carry out further investigations.
2019 is the Year of the Cognitive Supply Chain. Here’s How to Take AdvantageRetailers and fashion brands today face the mandate to quickly react to consumer demand and get shoppers the product they want, when and how they want it. The author suggests that fast reaction times, along with a near-perfect balance of supply and demand, are essential for companies to survive and thrive.Calais to Dover lorry drivers on migrant security risksUK lorry drivers who regularly travel to mainland Europe have been describing the rigorous steps they take to avoid migrants climbing on board during the journey home; these include being forced to park their vehicles in a secret location up to five hours from Calais, France, due to safety risks nearer the port, or checking their vehicles about eight times on the way to Northampton, via Dover.

31st January

Diesel tax perks should be slashed, says new studyEmission-testing results show that diesel cars can emit more carbon dioxide and are more expensive than their petrol counterparts, according to a new study released on Wednesday (8 May) by the organisation that lifted the lid on the Dieselgate scandal.FedEx got back in good graces with Amazon. It delivers Prime parcels again.Last week, Amazon informed vendors within its platform that they could resume using FedEx overland shipping services. This is a radical change, after the events of December when the e-commerce giant temporarily suspended Prime deliveries made by one of the tycoons in the courier market, according to CNBC.
Consumers Say Sustainability Matters. So Why Are We Demanding Free One-Day Shipping?Amazon’s launch of free one-day shipping in 2019 rocked the retail boat. But how will consumers rationalize their dependency on fast shipping with their stated sustainability goals?Japanese online retailer Rakuten, Walmart’s Seiyu to open logistics siteJapanese online retailer Rakuten and Walmart’s Seiyu said they plan to open a new logistics site in Yokohama later this year to deal with growing sales from their joint online supermarket business.

24th January

Consumers Say Sustainability Matters. So Why Are We Demanding Free One-Day Shipping?

Amazon’s launch of free one-day shipping in 2019 rocked the retail boat. But how will consumers rationalize their dependency on fast shipping with their stated sustainability goals?

Japanese online retailer Rakuten, Walmart’s Seiyu to open logistics site

Japanese online retailer Rakuten and Walmart’s Seiyu said they plan to open a new logistics site in Yokohama later this year to deal with growing sales from their joint online supermarket business.

Diesel tax perks should be slashed, says new study

Emission-testing results show that diesel cars can emit more carbon dioxide and are more expensive than their petrol counterparts, according to a new study released on Wednesday (8 May) by the organisation that lifted the lid on the Dieselgate scandal.

FedEx got back in good graces with Amazon. It delivers Prime parcels again.

Last week, Amazon informed vendors within its platform that they could resume using FedEx overland shipping services. This is a radical change, after the events of December when the e-commerce giant temporarily suspended Prime deliveries made by one of the tycoons in the courier market, according to CNBC.

17th January

Amazon lets 3rd party sellers use FedEx Ground for Prime shipments after peak season ban

Amazon’s third-party sellers can resume sending Prime shipments via FedEx Ground and Home. The decision comes after Amazon previously removed the option for sellers to ship Prime orders via FedEx Ground and Home in December 2019, citing late holiday shipments.

The Future of the Last-Mile Ecosystem

Growing demand for e-commerce delivery will result in 36% more delivery vehicles in inner cities by 2030, leading to a rise in both emissions and traffic congestion without effective intervention.

Amazon in India: Jeff Bezos announces $1bn Indian investment

Amazon boss Jeff Bezos has announced a major investment in India, saying the country is a key growth market.

Global Shipping Faces Troubling New Smuggling Questions

[subscription required]

As container ships get bigger, drug smugglers are growing bolder in hitching rides on commercial supply chains. Global shipping companies are wrestling with apparent growing demand in a sector that they don’t want and that has law enforcement authorities around the world on high alert.


10th January

Ford studying walking, human-like robots

Agility Robotics is shipping its first two Digit robots to Ford for research and testing. Digit has arms and legs to work with humans and in human spaces. Ford and Agility plan to cooperate on developing applications for the “humanoid” machines.

Russian e-commerce giant Wildberries launches in Europe

Wildberries, the largest online retailer of Russia, has officially entered the European Union after launching an online store in Poland.

Logistics start-up XpressBees secures $10m of funding from Alibaba

Alibaba has made an investment of $10m in Indian logistics start-up XpressBees. The Chinese giant is already an existing investor in the company and had invested in 2017 last.

How Trump’s Trade War Is Making Lobbyists Rich And Slamming Small Businesses

Washington’s influence industry, including former Trump officials and allies, is said to be helping big companies get exemptions from tariffs — sometimes by undercutting small business owners.


3rd January

Maersk close to acquisitions to bulk up land-based logistics

AP Moller-Maersk is getting close to making a number of acquisitions to bulk up its land-based logistics business after the world’s largest container shipping group strengthened its balance sheet.

Trump Says He Will Sign Phase-One Trade Deal With China on Jan. 15 

President Trump said he would sign the recently negotiated phase-one trade deal with China in Washington on January 15—marking a formal truce in the U.S-China trade war.

Fastest retailers fulfill orders in fewer than 2 days

Top retailers fulfil orders in an average of 1.8 days, according to a test of 137 retailers on Cyber Monday. The average time for the top 10 retailers improved 18% over last year.

The Secret Behind Amazon Package Delivery to West Africa

New York’s informal network of couriers with roundabout shipping routes is an attempt to solve the “last-mile issue” in West Africa: getting imported online goods into West African countries can be fairly smooth, but the final stretch is where things sometimes go awry.


20th December

Imitating Amazon: E-Commerce Battle Bolstered by Companies Mimicking the Market Leader

 Amazon’s dominance of digital retail sales has spawned a fast-growing ecosystem of startups and services aimed at matching different parts of Amazon’s sprawling network and at helping retailers and brands of all sizes meet consumer expectations set by the e-commerce heavyweight.

FedEx and UPS Have a New Problem With the Last Mile. It’s an Opportunity for Investors.

The “last mile” is becoming hotly contested. The rising competition is changing some minds on Wall Street, driving ratings changes on stocks such as FedEx (ticker: FDX) and United Parcel Service ( UPS ). 

UAE logistics set to reap dividends of new Silk Road

The UAE’s logistics industry is gearing up to take advantage of China’s Belt and Road initiative (BRI). The BRI initiative will promote the UAE as an international trading hub, as well as a crucial destination linking Asia, Africa and Europe. Experts say the UAE will emerge as a strong trading hub and the logistics industry will be its major beneficiary.

London businesses turn to cargo bikes to slash Christmas logistics emissions

TfL and its Team London Bridge Business Improvement District have worked with more than 40 local businesses to transition to emission-free cargo bike deliveries since the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) was introduced in April 2019.


13th December

New York Is Working With Amazon, Others To Test Cargo Bike Delivery; Will Your City Be Next?

New York is working with e-commerce giant Amazon and delivery heavyweights UPS and DHL to deploy about 100 cargo bikes for delivery in busy Midtown and Downtown Manhattan south of 60th Street. The pilot will last six months and may be extended for another six months.

A self-driving truck delivered butter from California to Pennsylvania in three days

A Silicon Valley startup has completed what appears to be the first commercial freight cross-country trip by an autonomous truck, which finished a 2,800-mile-run from Tulare, California to Quakertown, Pennsylvania for Land O’Lakes in under three days.

Package tracking is coming to Google Search

Google has announced a new early access program that will let package delivery companies integrate their APIs so that people can easily glean all the relevant information about their parcel’s journey. 

Africa’s Amazon hopeful Jumia retreats from big expansion [subscription required]

Jumia, the pan-African ecommerce company, will close its business in Rwanda, just weeks after it exited Cameroon and Tanzania, in the latest sign of retrenchment for the one-time unicorn whose share price has fallen nearly 90% from its high after listing in Wall Street in April.


6th December

Sri Lanka’s new government wants to undo Hambantota port lease to Chinese venture

Sri Lanka’s new government wants to undo the previous government’s move to lease the southern port of Hambantota to a Chinese venture, citing national interest. China has dismissed concerns over any military dimension to its investment in the Hambantota port, and said it was mutually beneficial and would aid Sri Lanka’s economy.

DHL’s Resilience360 Report: Impact Of The Us-China Trade War On Global Supply Chains

One-quarter of businesses have no contingency plans to mitigate risk posed by the U.S. trade war with China, according to responses from 276 supply chain professionals across industries surveyed by DHL’s Resilience360. 

Amazon vs. Ikea and the battle for inner-city warehouse space

With space at a premium, how are online giants making the most of urban warehouses — and how can big-box retailers compete?

Ikea invests in U.S. logistics startup Optoro to better manage returns

IKEA has bought a minority stake in U.S. tech startup Optoro whose software helps retailers manage returns in a more efficient way.  Optoro’s reverse logistics technology will be rolled out to distribution centres, stores and customer support centres in the United States.


29th November

Has Amazon triggered a logistics race to the bottom?

AmazonFresh recently dropped its $14.99 home delivery charge in New York due to its fight with FreshDirect. The effect of moves like this by Amazon is to slash industry margins.

Audi set to slash 9,500 jobs in Germany

The move comes as the car market struggles with slowing demand in a weaker global economy, tougher pollution rules and the huge investments needed for the battery-powered era.

Chinese shipbuilding giants announce merger

China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation and China State Shipbuilding Corporation Limited merged into one corporation on Tuesday. This reorganised corporation has total assets of CNY790bn (around $112bn) and 310,000 employees.

SF Express launches bond sale to raise cash for freighters

SF Express has launched a bond issue that aims to raise CNY5.8bn, with much of that money earmarked for investment in new aircraft.


22nd November

Nikola Motor Claims Historic Battery Technology Breakthrough

Nikola Motor Co. said Tuesday that it achieved a landmark breakthrough in battery technology that could double the range of electric vehicles without adding any weight. The technology could increase the range of current electric passenger cars to 600 miles from 300 miles today with no increase to battery size and weight. 

IoT makes industrial manufacturers ‘smart’

The PWC survey finds that 93% of executives believe the benefits of using internet of things (IoT) technology outweighs the cyber security risks. According to the report, manufacturers’ current or planned use cases broke down into three key areas: logistics (50%), supply chain (47%), and employee and customer operations (46%). ​

How the home delivery habit reshaped our world

The great trick of online retail has been to get us to shop more and think less about how our purchases reach our homes. The article discusses the rise of e-commerce retail and how the centrality of the B2C supply chains to functioning e-commerce is redefining society. 

Rhenus Logistics eyes more acquisitions to expand its global footprint

Germany’s Rhenus Logistics is targeting more acquisitions to expand its global warehousing and freight forwarding operations. Plans include opening warehouses across India and in Durban in 2020.


15th November 

Alibaba’s Singles’ Day sales hit record $38bn, growth slows

Chinese retailer Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s sales for its 24-hour Singles’ Day shopping blitz hit a record $38.4bn, more than U.S. rival Amazon.com’s haul last quarter from online store sales. But sales growth for the annual shopping festival eased to 26%, the weakest since the event started in 2009, held back by a slowing e-commerce industry in China as the country’s economic expansion heads toward a historic low.

Ambitious Sri Lanka wants to become a global maritime and logistics centre

Sri Lanka has ambitions to move up from being a south Asia transhipment hub to a global maritime and logistics centre on a par with Dubai and Singapore. New free trade deals and free trade zones are helping foreign investors see the opportunity, and major multinationals, such as GAC, DHL and Ceva, have all invested in larger operations in Sri Lanka in recent months.

Shadow of Brexit fuels Dutch warehouse logistics boom

The race to secure logistics real estate in key parts of northern Europe has been heating up ever since the U.K. elected to leave the European Union in 2016. It is showing no signs of cooling. Notable investments this year alone include the €24m purchase of a logistics warehouse in ‘s-Heerenberg by Aberdeen Standard in June, and the January purchase of a logistics facility fully leased to XPO Logistics in Oss by Europa Capital for €28.3m.

Blockchain only offers consumers the ‘illusion of traceability’, says expert

While supply chain traceability has been touted as one of the more beneficial use cases of blockchain technology, one expert from big-four consultancy firm PwC argues that fraudsters may still be able to falsify the origin of products.



8th November

Logistics Unicorn Delhivery Looks To Drones, EVs For Faster Deliveries

Besides Zomato and Amazon, Delhivery is also planning to enhance its delivery services by infusing electric vehicles (EV) and drones into its logistics. Delhivery wants to scale up its operations in India with the use of new-age delivery options such as drones and EVs.

Under Armour cuts inventory 23%, sees lower excess product levels

Under Armour has been in supply chain simplification mode for several years now and that work has put the company in a better position to withstand shrinking sales since there is less excess product in the system.

European ports: China sets up its commercial “factories”

The Chinese Belt and Road Initiative is reminiscent of those of the colonial factories and the 19th century concessions, which the western powers used to create their networks in China. To install and establish the Belt and Road Initiative, which is an essential element for its re-conquest, China has endeavoured to create a network of European ports that is essential to fulfill their supremacist vision of access to markets.

Russia advocates expansion of ports and shipping along the Northern Sea Route – NSR

The Port of Hamburg and Russian ports discussed the expansion of ports and shipping along the Northern Sea Route and the development of transit freight traffic between Europe and Asia. The Russian company Rosatom is extensively planning the expansion of the route and opening up the Arctic region. In initial test runs, the shorter sea route between Europe and Asia along Russia’s Arctic coast has already been used as an alternative to the conventional sea route via the Mediterranean, Suez Canal and Indian Ocean.



1st November

Amazon’s Profit Hurt by Push to Speed Up Shipping (subscription required)

Amazon’s profit machine sputtered again after more than two years of surging growth, weighed down by the tech giant’s heavy investment into reducing shipping times for retail customers.

JD.com unveils 5G smart logistics site

JD.com says its 5G-powered logistics park will enhance site operations such as real-time monitoring of routes for forklifts and sending out alerts when there is an anomaly.

The Vietnam connection

Furniture manufacturers in Vietnam have been in high demand as China tariffs have forced many importers to look outside China to avoid a 25% tariff on finished goods.

Google parent company Alphabet held a secret ‘logistics summit’ last week with reps from FedEx and other shipping companies

Alphabet held a closed-door meeting with internal executives and external retailers last week to discuss potential investments and strategies in the logistics sector. The objective was to explore potential business models and investment opportunities in the e-commerce space with a focus in logistics and fulfilment.



25th October 

Royal Mail strikes could cost retailers £8m (subscription required)

A possible Black Friday Royal Mail strike could force retailers to attempt to pass on 8.5m parcels, or 105,000 van loads of parcels to other carriers – which could cost them around £8m in higher postal costs.

Southeast Asia is seeing a new kind of logistics surge as start-ups apply new technology to old problems

New-found variety, speed, transparency, and on-demand efficiency in the logistics game have begun to take precedence in the region.

India’s finance minister: ‘We made our position very clear’ on China’s new Silk Road

As China continues to court more countries to join its massive Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), India has made its position “very clear” that it won’t be participating because of a territorial dispute. India has taken offense at one specific project in particular: The China Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Wholesalers concur: Retailers are not open to sharing the tariff burden

Retailers agree the trade war will impact the consumer. At the same time, no retailer wants to lose the larger war with no end: the price war.



18th October 

Saudi Arabia opens new logistics zone in Jeddah, considering private investors in bid to diversify from oil

Saudi Arabia launched on Sunday a new logistics zone open to private investors in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah, as part of a wider industrial initiative to diversify the economy away from oil and create jobs for Saudis.

Dubai Customs launches the World Logistics Passport

The World Logistics Passport will connect government entities, including Dubai Customs and Dubai Trade, with logistics service providers like DP World and Dnata, and facilitate commercial transactions among concerned bodies in Dubai.

US tariffs take heavy toll on China

The full extent of the impact on Chinese exports from the ongoing U.S.-China trade war is now becoming clear. China’s export growth in greenback terms fell 3.2% year-on-year in September. The drop was largely attributable to the mammoth decline in shipments to the U.S., which fell 21.9% year-over-year.

GM strike brings widespread disruption to US supply chain

Large parts of the US automotive supply chain are at a standstill as strike action by GM workers affecting more than 30 plants in North America moves into its second month.



11th October

‘China’s rise’ cannot be blamed for regional job losses in developed countries, IMF finds

Competition from China is not the primary reason for regional job losses in rich countries, new International Monetary Fund research finds. Study finds technological advancement is bigger driver of unemployment, undermining populist argument China is stealing manufacturing jobs.

The 3 trends shaping the future of logistics in African markets 

According to a recent survey of logistics tech companies across the continent, 3 trends will shape the future of logistics in African markets: closing the urban-rural divide, the digitization of logistics, and the continued rise of B2B logistics companies.

Investors accuse FedEx of lying, stock dumping after NotPetya attack

This is the second such suit, with shareholders asking why executives sold $40m+ of their shares while downplaying the ransomware attack.

What is the Value of Smart Data?

Behind every successful ‘Smart Port’ in the world is a near-infinite amount of data that has been successfully transformed into actionable, profit-making solutions.



4th October 

Rent the Runway’s delivery problems show the perils of being on trend, but not on time 

For a fashion business to thrive, it needs more than just the right clothes. As Rent the Runway is revealing, there’s a whole operational side to get right, too.

Latest warehousing Brexit poll reveals 48-hour capacity crunch

The latest Brexit poll from the United Kingdom Warehousing Association suggests stockpiling in the warehousing sector has led to the equivalent of just two days’ worth of capacity in the UK. 

E-Commerce Fulfillment Specialist Deliverr Adds $23 Million in Funding

The San Francisco-based company, part of a growing ecosystem of logistics providers for e-commerce retailers, plans to use the funding to expand its fast shipping services across major sales channels and marketplaces. It also plans to add more warehouse partners to its network and hire more staff at its operations centre in Chicago.

Ezyhaul raises $16m to expand trucking app into Indonesia and the Philippines

Founded in 2016, Ezyhaul was one of the region’s first “Uber-like”, on-demand trucking apps to focus on first- rather than last-mile load matching, for both domestic and cross-border road freight.



27th September

India slashes business taxes in a bid to boost growth

Profits made by Indian companies will now be taxed at a rate of 22%, down from 30%, as long as they don’t apply for other incentives or exemptions. The tax cuts are the latest in a series of moves by the government to try and boost India’s economic growth, which has been falling for more than a year and dropped to a six-year low of 5% in the quarter ended June. 

Amazon Co-founds The Climate Pledge, Setting Goal to Meet the Paris Agreement 10 Years Early

Amazon commits to net zero carbon by 2040 and 100% renewable energy by 2030.  To further advance this goal, Amazon announced the order of 100,000 electric delivery vehicles from Rivian, the largest order ever of electric delivery vehicles, with vans starting to deliver packages to customers in 2021.

U.N. postal union clinches deal to keep U.S. in club

The U.N. agency linking postal systems worldwide on Wednesday agreed to reform its fee structure under a proposal by the United States that averted the Trump administration leaving the global network but may mean many consumers pay more.

DHL Global Trade Barometer: World trade at crossroads

The DHL Global Trade Barometer forecasts a mild decline in world trade. The trade conflict between China and the US keeps simmering, resulting in an overall subdued trade mood, with US and China accounting for the most negative trade outlooks in September. It is expected that US trade will shrink further.



20th September 

Shipper, a platform for e-commerce logistics in Indonesia, raises $5 million

Shipper, a startup with the ambitious goal of giving online sellers access to “Amazon-level logistics”, has raised $5 million in seed funding.

Waymo expands self-driving technology to Class 8, last mile delivery trucks

Waymo, a Google-affiliated self-driving car company, announced it is expanding its Waymo Driver technology to Class 8 trucks and last-mile delivery vehicles in the coming years. 

UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper Study

The 2018 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper Global Study finds that alternate delivery locations, marketplaces, and technologies, such as robots and chatbots, are newer areas of retail that may play an increasing role in the shopping experience of the future.

‘No break up of DP-DHL’, says US chief – ‘strength comes from unity’

The German transport behemoth has faced difficulties in some divisions, leading to speculation that it might be more efficient if it broke up into separate units. 




13th September

Uber Freight goes ‘well beyond’ brokerage competitors 

Analysts at Morgan Stanley described Uber Freight as a “significant freight/logistics platform” built over a short period of time.

Cainiao and SF Express to resume data sharing after China’s State Post Bureau intervenes 

Cainiao and SF Express will resume data sharing following an intervention by China’s State Post Bureau, ending a data stand-off between both companies that could have impacted over a million merchants and consumers on Alibaba’s e-commerce marketplaces.

Uber Taps Lucrative Medicare Business With Logistics Deal

Also, Uber has signed a contract with a key medical transportation company that has relationships with some of the nation’s biggest health insurers.

This experimental road is one very long charger for electric vehicles.

A road in Sweden has been modified to enable vehicles to charge up whilst driving. It utilises a moveable arm fitted at the bottom of the chassis that connects to a rail in the road.




6th September 

eCargo bikes to be deployed in Nordic city logistics

Two Norwegian delivery and logistics firms have placed orders for Electric Assisted Vehicles Ltd’s (EAV) new EAVan eCargo bikes.

UAE last mile specialist fetchr could be Amazon’s next target says CB Insights

Fetchr is on track to join the likes of Careem (the UAE’s first unicorn), which was acquired by Uber earlier this year, according to the data and research platform.

Logistics: the Achilles’ heel of the short food supply chain

From the ‘uberisation’ of last mile delivery to the use of smart lockers, from the offer of ready-to-eat products to the constant search for higher produce quality: how short food supply chain (SFSC) producers may face distribution costs and compete with supermarkets.

Dear Container lines, Please Stop fooling yourselves!

Open letter here decries the lack of cargo visibility and accurate data. The latter, it argues, ought to be fixed before the former can be talked about.




30th August 2019

Vietnam ‘has bitten off more than it can chew’ as it struggles with growth

Vietnam appears to be emerging as a winner from the US-China trade war. Exports of electronics, footwear, textiles and machinery are growing rapidly. However, its infrastructure has struggled to keep up with its rapid growth and this could constrain it over the long term.

e-commerce UK accounts for 53% of retail sales by 2028

For comparison, online sales currently account for around 20% of all retail sales in the UK. Continued growth in e-commerce will have far-reaching consequences for logistics over the next 10 years. It also suggests how strong the potential for other e-commerce markets could be over the longer term.

Rakuten vs. Amazon: The battle for Japan’s e-commerce market

Amazon has recently become the market leader in Japanese e-commerce, having invested significant sums in its logistics infrastructure. However, the battle for supremacy is likely to be fierce for years to come.

DHL stops deliveries for Amazon Fresh in Germany

Another integrator has broken ties with Amazon! This time, in Germany, where DHL says the “market for food e-commerce has been disappointing”. It appears the German food e-delivery market isn’t ripe for penetration right now, with popular stores Aldi and Lidl winning out overall.




23rd August 2019

Cambodia-European Union trade deal is on the chopping block

Accusations of human rights abuse by the Cambodian government may force the end of a preferential trade agreement. Losing the deal would principally affect Cambodia’s garment industry, which employs roughly 800,000 people.

Shopify Nips at Amazon With Hassle-Free Shipping for Small Firms

When Shopify said last month that it was moving into the fulfilment business, shares spiked and analysts began talking about it as a potential competitor to Amazon.

UK shops stockpiling for a no-deal Brexit don’t stand a chance

Is the UK warehousing industry ready for the ramifications of no deal? The already tight supply of suitable space in the warehousing sector is squeezed right around the new Brexit deadline. 

UPS Has Been Delivering Cargo in Self-Driving Trucks for Months And No One Knew

At this point, the TuSimple trucks carrying packages for UPS still have an engineer and a safety driver riding along. When UPS reaches Level 4 autonomous driving, it won’t need anyone behind the wheel



16th August 2019

This Chart Explains Why Grocers are Investing in Logistics and Delivery

If grocery shoppers are loyal, and more of them will be shopping for their groceries online, then retailers who want to retain their customers over the coming years need to invest now in logistical systems to fulfil those orders.

UPS Joins Self-Driving Race By Investing In Autonomous Tech Startup TuSimple

UPS is jumping into the self-driving vehicle world by investing in TuSimple, a fast-moving developer of robot truck technology that UPS sees as offering opportunities to boost its on-road safety and efficiency.

Amazon seeks FAA approval for its Prime Air drone

Prime Air plans to deliver packages of up to 5 pounds to customers within 30 minutes of placing an order. Its MK27 unmanned aircraft system can deliver within a range of 15 nautical miles to a variety of customer locations and designated drop-off points, which represents 80 to 85% of the products that Amazon Prime sells. 

Japan Post to end Saturday standard mail delivery due to job crunch and drop in demand

A government panel decided to end Saturday delivery for standard mail due to a labour shortage at Japan Post and a drop in demand because of increased use of the internet. It is estimated that the changes will increase Japan Post’s profit by $590m through reduced labour costs.



9th August 2019

Confronting the risks of artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence is proving to be a double-edged sword. While this can be said of most new technologies, both sides of the AI blade are far sharper, and neither is well understood.

FedEx, UPS Find Formula for Delivering Seven Days a Week: Discount Sunday Drivers

Delivery companies to use lower-paid workers as they look for an economically feasible way to help shippers compete with Amazon [subscription required]

Amazon breaks into the race to dominate the $1.5 trillion business of moving stuff

Amazon is in a unique position in that no other third-party logistics provider also competes with their customers. If retailers that don’t already sell on Amazon let the tech giant handle their shipping, they risk handing over valuable data on which products are selling to which markets — information that Amazon can use to sharpen its own retail business.

German businesses fear repeat of historic shutdown of Rhine River

Climate change and the resulting heat waves that are sweeping Europe are increasing the risk of making the continent’s most important waterway impassable for longer periods — a threat that’s worrying businesses.



2nd August 2019

Sennder raises $70m in bid to take on antiquated logistics market

Berlin-based ground logistics company Sennder recently secured US$70 million in a Series C funding round led by Lakestar, according to TechCrunch, which estimates that Sennder’s valuation is approximately US$300 million. 

Your Next iPhone Might Be Made in Vietnam. Thank the Trade War.

Samsung already assembles half of its handsets in the country, which got a big lift from U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods. Now Apple is homing in.

Britain looks to standardize HD maps for autonomous vehicles

With the development and testing of autonomous vehicles gaining momentum, the demand for HD-mapping is soaring but there seems to be a lack of consensus, standardization, and collaborative initiatives.

Sports Direct spent £90m to kick-start House of Fraser supply chain 

Chief executive Mike Ashley commented “Despite the frustration on our part we understand the position the likes of XPO were put in when being so fantastically out of pocket because of the previous management’s mixture of misplaced optimism or worse, downright lies.”

25th July 2019

Opposition to EU-Mercosur trade deal sees logistics plans stay on drawing boards

The European Union and the Mercosur trade pact have come a long way: after 20 years of talks, the two sides have finally agreed to phase out tariffs on most goods over the next 10 years. The agreement opens the door for many exporters on both sides of the Atlantic, from produce and protein shippers in South America to producers of French cheese and car parts in Europe.

Alibaba opens door to US sellers on its oldest platform

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has opened its doors to US sellers on its oldest platform, Alibaba.com. The move will allow Alibaba, traditionally China-focused, to compete with global e-commerce giants like Amazon.

Truckers say Amazon’s new logistics empire is being underpinned by low, ‘ridiculous’ rates — and some are refusing to work with them

The article looks at Amazon’s low rates which makes trucking executives ware of working with the company. The truckers who are driving Amazon packages across the USA argue that Amazon pays too little for them to justify working with the company.

World Economic Forum To Experiment With Drone Delivery Of Medicines In Telangana

World Economic Forum Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network will launch a drone-delivery project called ‘Medicine from the Sky’ in Telangana.



19th July 2019

European Union opens antitrust probe of Amazon

The probe centres around the accusation that Amazon uses sales data from third-party merchants on its site to create its own products and promote these unfairly.

New German alliance seeks to automate 75m logistics processes using blockchain

Spearheaded by consulting firm Ernst & Young (EY), and with LKW Walter, GS1 Austria, DB Schenker, and WU Vienna on board, the alliance aims to digitize existing paper-based freight documentation processes in order to provide a “completely transparent window into the progress of all logistic lines.”

Zero-carbon logistics – a realistic goal?

As more food and consumer goods businesses pledge their allegiance to future zero-carbon operations, how realistic is it that the industry, and logistics more generally, will reach this new standard?

Will ships without sailors be the future of trade?

Hushcraft and Sea-Kit claim to have tested the “world’s first unmanned commercial shipping operation”, moving oysters from the UK to Belgium. The unmanned craft can potentially utilise space more effectively than manned ships and reduce costs in the progress.