Peter Fox, Chairman of Australian logistics company Linfox, has shared his thoughts on the viability of electric trucks in Australia in an interview with TheAustralian Financial Review.
Fox noted that while he is keen on electric trucks, the company will wait until highways are equipped with charging stations before upgrading its fuel-powered fleet.
“We can’t update 7,000 vehicles in one day and make them more electric,” he said. “And if I did, I wouldn’t have charging stations – it’s a great concept, but it’s going to have a slow uptake.”
Fox told the newspaper that electric vehicles have “a part to play in the future,” and that Linfox is conducting its own tests of electric trucks.
“Given we’re a leader in our industry, where there’s innovation, we will be the first mover,” he said – adding that the logistic company expects to see electric small trucks and vans in operation in the next couple of years.
Fox also shared his belief that the Government should not offer subsidies on electric vehicles to incentivise people to use them, though acknowledged that there was logic in charging older trucks more to use roads, since they produce higher amounts of carbon emissions.
E-commerce company Amazon is reportedly trialling its own delivery service, news site TechRadar reports.
According to news company the Wall Street Journal, Amazon’s new service encompasses pick-up of packages from businesses sell on its site through its Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) service, and delivery to customers, taking over the task usually performed by dedicated delivery companies such as United Parcel Service (UPS) and FedEx.
Although there have been no official reports from the company itself, the Wall Street Journal reports that the pilot scheme has already been launched in London, and soon will head to Los Angeles and other US cities.
JD.com, one of China’s largest online retailers, will open its regional headquarters in Melbourne, the Victorian Government has announced.
JD.com has over 266 million customer accounts, and operates China’s largest nationwide fulfilment network, with seven fulfilment centres and more than 400 warehouses in 2,830 counties and districts throughout China.
The company sells a wide range of goods, including vitamins, electronics, clothing and books.
Following a visit by representatives from JD.com to the Food and Beverage Trade Week in Victoria in October, the Andrews Labor Government has been working closely with the company to encourage it to establish a presence in the region.
“This announcement will give more Victorian businesses the opportunity to take their products to the world and is a clear indication that we’re leading the nation on the digital economy,” said Victorian Minister for Trade and Investment Philip Dalidakis.
“We welcome JD.com with open arms and look forward to all the opportunities that this new regional HQ will bring to Victoria, including strengthening our economy and creating more local jobs.”
Patrick Nestel, Manager of JD.com Australia, added:
“Victoria’s wealth of high-quality suppliers, supportive government, 24/7 airport and largest container port in the southern hemisphere made it the obvious choice for JD.com’s new regional HQ.”
A new report from advisory service Deloitte Access Economics has found that Australia’s supply chain and logistics workforce will reach 161,000 people in 2021/2022, up from 145,000 in 2016/2017.
This represents an annual growth rate of 2.1 per cent, above the projected growth of the Australian workforce as a whole, 1.5 per cent. The future of work: Occupational and education trends in supply chain and logistics in Australia also found that postgraduate qualification impacts the earning power of the sector’s professionals, boosting lifetime salaries by 48 per cent, compared to individuals with no post-school qualifications.
In 2016/2017, supply chain and logistics professionals with relevant postgraduate qualifications commanded an average annual income of $140,949 – 66 per cent more than workers in the sector with no post-school qualifications.
By 2021-22, this is expected to rise to $164,360, a 14.3 per cent hike.
According to Deloitte, technological revolution is driving jobs growth in supply chain and logistics faster than in the general workforce, putting pressure on managers to acquire new skills in e-commerce and data analytics.
“With new technologies such as drones, driverless vehicles, 3D printing and sensor technology seeing increased deployment across various supply chain functions, there will be greater opportunities for supply chain professionals to adapt business operations in procurement, production and distribution to effectively and efficiently use these digital tools,” said Professor Booi Kam, the Program Director of the Master of Supply Chain and Logistics Management at RMIT University, who consulted with Deloitte for the report.
“Technological developments are providing significant opportunities for applying data analytics to improve supply chain and logistics operations across functions such as demand forecasting, inventory management and supply chain visualisation. The use of data analytics to inform these decisions is increasingly being recognised as best practice in supply chain management.”
David Rumbens, Partner at Deloitte Access Economics, added: “The growing importance of digital technology means there is an increasing reliance on data-driven insights to improve supply chain efficiency and effectiveness.
“The evolution of the supply chain is also being accelerated by consumer-driven change, as customers move towards e-commerce away from traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ retailers to online purchases and e-commerce.”
Read the report here.
Recent research carried out by Australian crowd-sourced courier service Go People found that while Australian shoppers recognise that US e-commerce company Amazon may put local retailers in jeopardy, they still largely plan to purchase through it.
Its survey of 1,000 consumers across Australia found that despite more than half (59 per cent) of Australians seeing Amazon as a threat to small businesses, a similar amount (47 per cent) still plan to shop there.
“Local retailers are already feeling the ‘Amazon effect’ with the market’s disruption pushing them to evolve,” said Wayne Wang, Founder and CEO, Go People.
“Retailers are realising they need to deliver the best possible purchasing experience for their customers to stay relevant.”
Wang added that the research further showed that Australian shoppers now place more importance on delivery speed when deciding where to shop (41 per cent) than the ability to actually touch and feel the product (33 per cent).
“We’re becoming a nation of on-demand shoppers, with one in two noting the importance of same-day delivery when deciding where they shop. Local retailers need to ensure they delight their customers throughout the entire purchasing experience to remain competitive.”
After growing its monthly deliveries by 600 per cent over the past 12 months, Go People has raised a further $3 million in its latest funding round.
“The growth we’re generating shows there’s hunger for more flexible, convenient delivery services among Aussie consumers,” said Wang. “Investor interest during the capital raise exceeded expectations, and is particularly encouraging as we look to diversify our offering for retailers with new delivery options in 2018.”
US labour union Teamsters has demanded that US delivery company UPS provide assurances that deliveries will not be automated through the use of drones or self-driving vehicles, as a part of a new collective bargaining agreement, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Teamsters represents the interests of more than 260,000 UPS employees in the US, and has a total membership base of more than 1.3 million workers. Business Insider notes that UPS and other delivery companies including DHL and FedEx are looking into automation technology to cope with increasing delivery volumes brought about through the rise of e-commerce, and the country’s truck driver shortage.
In early 2017, UPS conducted a drone delivery trial, through which a drone would launch from the UPS van and complete parcel deliveries to addresses close by, while drivers also completed deliveries.
Research company Pew found in a 2017 of US adults that 72 per cent were worried about automated technology taking jobs, and 58 per cent supported government restrictions on the number of roles businesses can replace with machines.
Peter Fox, Executive Chairman of Australian logistics giant Linfox, has applauded e-commerce company Amazon’s Australian entry strategy, branding its partnering with local logistics operators “really smart,” The Australian reports.
“I think [Amazon] have been really smart in terms of who they align with and who they compete with,” Fox told the newspaper.
He noted that Linfox has felt the arrival of Amazon, though it does not provide couriers services.
“Our volumes have picked up on the back of volume we do for Australia Post, because we are the intermodal provider at Australia Post,” he said, adding that he believes Amazon’s decision to set up a local presence was a good one. “Amazon have now got a much shorter supply chain to get deliveries,” he said. “Instead of being couriers in by an aircraft from America, they now have inventory in Australia and the consumer us getting delivery within 24 hours – before that, delivery would have taken three or four days.”
Fox also commented on Linfox’s recent senior appointments – the company announced earlier this week that Annette Carey would leave her position as Linfox Logistics CEO ANZ and take a place on the Board, as a non-executive director, succeeded by an internal hire, Mark Marurek.
“The best people inside our company are ones which we bring up from the rank and file and come up through management,” he said. “We just believe in training and educating our people.
“Unfortunately, some people leave and we end up training and educating the industry, but where we can hold on to the people and promote from within, that’s our favourite alternative in succession.”
Australian fashion retailer Cue has introduced a three-hour delivery option for online shoppers and its ‘store-to-door’ customers.
“We are so excited to be the first Australian bricks-and-mortar fashion retailer in the country to offer free three-hour delivery!” the company said in a statement.
Shane Lenton, Chief Information Officer, Cue, said that the retailer is proud to embrace delivery innovations that enhance the customer’s experience.
Online retailer The Iconic already offers three hour delivery, though Australian Financial Review’s Yolanda Redrup notes that Cue’s delivery reach is broader, excluding only the New South Wales central coast, Wollongong, the Northern Territory and the Queensland regional town of Toowoomba.
Melbourne based start-up Passel is also working with retailers to help them offer three-hour delivery through a crowdsourced courier model.
Australia Post has revealed that it completed more than 37 million parcel deliveries during December 2017, the busiest month in the organisation’s 209-year history.
According to Bob Black, Chief Operations Officer and Executive General Manager – eCommerce Delivery at Australia Post, more than 2,000 extra staff helped the postal service handle the record volumes.
“We made more than 37 million parcel deliveries in the four weeks leading up to Christmas, that’s almost 20 per cent more deliveries per day compared to last year making 2017 our biggest festive season ever,” said Black.
“On average our drivers and posties made more than five deliveries per household across Australia, making it a huge team effort.”
In the final week before Christmas, Australia Post delivered more than 11 million parcels, and more than 100 million greeting cards and letters. Several days in the week before Christmas recorded increases of more than 30 per cent across Premium and Express services.
Black said Australians also embraced Australia Post’s range of delivery options, including weekend deliveries and extended trading hours, as well as parcel redirections, parcel pick-up directly from Australia Post facilities, and ‘safe drop’, whereby residents can nominate a safe place for parcels to be left at their property when they are not at home.
The unprecedented parcels volumes started in November, after the Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Click Frenzy sales, and continued into the New Year.
“Retailers now offer great deals online during the Boxing Day and new year sales, which have always been popular with Australians,” said Black. “It’s very much all hands on deck still, we’re still seeing record volumes through our network due to some amazing sales.
Overall, online shopping purchases in Australia grew 15 per cent in 2017 compared with 2016, Australia Post shared.
US President Donald Trump took to Twitter over the Christmas break to call for e-commerce companies such as Amazon to raise delivery prices and pay more to the United States Post Service (USPS).
“Why is the United States Post Office, which is losing many billions of dollars a year, while charging Amazon and others so little to deliver their packages, making Amazon richer and the Post Office dumber and poorer? Should be charging MUCH MORE!” Trump wrote in late December.
The US leader has previously used Twitter to slight Amazon, though according to news portal CNN, his latest assertion may be true. Unfortunately, CNN’s Lydia DePillas noted, while the USPS may not be being fully compensated for services rendered at present, this is a result of its own inner workings rather than unfair treatment by its major customer Amazon and others.