Kalmar, part of Cargotec, has introduced a medium electric forklift (9-18t capacity), powered by emission-free lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery technology. The new forklift is the latest step on the company’s journey towards offering an electric version of every product in its portfolio by 2021. It is the first forklift in the medium-capacity range to be powered by Li-ion batteries, and the battery technology will initially be available for several models with a wheelbase of 3,500 mm. Read more
Australian retail turnover fell 0.1 per cent in April 2019, seasonally adjusted, according to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Retail Trade figures.
This follows a rise of 0.3 per cent in March 2019.
“There were mixed results across industries,” said ABS director of quarterly economy-wide surveys Ben Faulkner. “We had falls in Household goods retailing (-0.9 per cent), Cafes, restaurant and takeaway food services (-0.7 per cent), and Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (-1.2 per cent), which were offset by rises in Other retailing (0.8 per cent), Department stores (1.8 per cent), and Food retailing (0.2 per cent).”
In seasonally adjusted terms, there were falls in New South Wales (-0.4 per cent), Victoria (-0.4 per cent), the Northern Territory (-0.5 per cent), and the Australian Capital Territory (-0.2 per cent). There were rises in Queensland (0.7 per cent), South Australia (0.6 per cent), Western Australia (0.1 per cent), and Tasmania (0.3 per cent).
The trend estimate for Australian retail turnover rose 0.2 per cent in April 2019, following a 0.2 per cent rise in March 2019. Compared to April 2018, the trend estimate rose 2.9 per cent.
Online retail turnover contributed 5.7 per cent to total retail turnover in original terms in April 2019, which was unchanged from March 2019. In April 2018, online retail turnover contributed 5.4 per cent to total retail.
More detailed industry analysis and further information on the statistical methodology is available in Retail Trade, Australia (cat no. 8501.0).
With online shopping growing at exponential rates, it is inevitable that online shoppers will want to return some purchases, and until recently, returns have been treated by both shoppers and retailers as a hassle. But in 2019, returns policies can be make or break for retailers who are facing a dilemma – how to respond to increasingly demanding consumer expectations without killing their profits in the process.
Power Retail has examined the issue in its latest Spotlight Series monthly report titled ‘Returns – The Profit Killer?’.
The report distils over 5,650 interviews with online shoppers and Australian online retailers, to provide insights and strategies for retailers to balance the art of attracting shoppers while remaining profitable.
Managing director of Power Retail Grant Arnott said: “In this competitive climate, retailers are attempting to both limit and encourage returns. The issue is that the benchmarks are being set, often by large international retailers, who can afford to take a short-term hit when strategising for the long-term, big-picture view. But what consumers view as the ‘new normal’ isn’t actually maintainable for many. Yet at the same time, returns are a massive marketing opportunity.
“There is no single solution to minimising returns, though online retailers such as Hunting for George demonstrate the type of multifaceted approach that is required. From educational videos to providing samples for larger purchases and offering a live chat service, they have engaged with their target audience and designed services that address their specific needs.”
Key findings from the Returns Report include:
- 91% of online shoppers consider a retailer’s returns policy when making a purchase online.
- On average, Australian online retailers have a return rate of 9%. This varies dramatically depending on the category, with some online fashion retailers experiencing a return rate of 40%.
- When it comes to the biggest hassle in returning an item, finding an opportunity to lodge the return (33%) and getting around to it (20%) are interrelated and significant issues, with some prepared to pay for a courier pick-up service.
- 41% of Australian consumers would choose free returns over a range of other desirable options, including next day delivery.
- Females (56%) were much more likely to return their last online purchase because it didn’t fit, or they didn’t like the colour compared to males (34%).
- High quality product images, information and customer reviews all help reduce returns, and Amazon Australia is currently setting customer expectations in all of these areas.
Following an analysis of this issue within the industry, Mr Arnott provides his top four predictions of returns for the next five years.
- The report found that 24% of online shoppers aged under 25 consider returning an item compared to only 12% of those aged over 65. With this in mind, young consumers will continue to hold retailers to ransom, as they’ll only shop with retailers who offer generous returns policies.
- Retailer profit margins will continue to be eroded as growing numbers of ‘serial returners’ take advantage of generous return policies at a significant expense to the retailer. 74% of Australian online shoppers expect free returns on all items, meaning the retailer must bear the cost of the delivery to the customer and the delivery of the returned items.
- Offering free returns and longer return periods in pursuit of a sugar hit in sales and customer satisfaction is a short-term strategy that is unsustainable in the Australian market with the high cost of reverse logistics.
- The genie is out of the bottle when it comes to returns, and hundreds of retailers chasing fickle consumers who love returns policies that allow them to ‘try before you buy’ are going to find themselves in a world of hurt in the next few years. Like discounting, it becomes a race to self-destruction.
In recognition that people in industry learn from successful deployments, not white papers, three industry associations have banded together to organise a Supply Chain Climate Change Solutions Summit and Expo. This event will be held in Melbourne on Thursday 13 June 2019. Read more
SSI Schaefer has announced its new brand ambassador, Mick Schumacher. The reigning Formula 3 champion, who is competing in the FIA Formula 2 Championship this year, has entered a long-term partnership with intralogistics specialist SSI Schaefer.
Mick Schumacher has been impressing fans, colleagues and the general public alike for years with his stringent quest for improvement. The 20-year-old son of seven-time Formula 1 World Champion, Michael Schumacher, has long since created his own identity. As a member of the exclusive driving field of the FIA Formula 2 Championship, Mick is now one of the best young racers in the world.
“Driving for Excellence” is the clear goal for this partnership. “Mick brings a great passion that impresses us here at SSI Schaefer. Giving everything, gaining experience, and accepting challenges that work towards a solution with intent and hyper focus is what connects our company with him. True to our corporate tagline, ‘Think Tomorrow’, SSI Schaefer looks ahead to achieve the ambitious goals for our customers,” said EVP sales for SSI Schaefer Michael Mohr.
Mick Schumacher has been driving for the Italian PREMA team since 2016. The 2018 European Formula 3 Champion just recently started driving for the Formula 2 team this year and he joined into the Ferrari Driver Academy program that promotes young talents. As a young driver, Schumacher started test driving in April for Bahrain in Formula 1 for both Ferrari and Alfa Romeo Racing. “I’m delighted to welcome SSI Schaefer as a partner because we share the same core values: a down-to-earth attitude, striving for success, innovative solutions, as well as long-term thinking and action. ‘Think Tomorrow’ suits me too,” stated Schumacher.
Various joint activities are planned for the partnership between the intralogistics specialist and the Formula 2 driver. Mick Schumacher is taking part in a panel discussion at one of the world’s largest in-house events in the industry this autumn, with international logistics users, expert discussions, keynotes and live demonstrations of logistics systems.
The Toyota Material Handling Australia national head office and branch management team attending the opening of the new facility in Gepps Cross, South Australia.
The ongoing growth of Toyota Material Handling Australia (TMHA)’s Adelaide branch was a primary reason for it to recently move from its former site to a brand new, 12,000m2 facility in Gepps Cross, South Australia.
The state-of-the art facility was opened in May and visitors in attendance included South Australian Government Treasurer the Hon Rob Lucas MLC, TMHA chairman Toshi Nakazawa and president & CEO, Steve Takacs.
TMHA general manager – Branch Operations South Hamish Harper said in his time with the branch he has watched it move from strength to strength. “We worked in the old facility for over 25 years and have been GM for the last 10, and in that time I have watched its steady growth,” said Mr Harper. “Growth in our people and growth in our product lines – our offering has vastly increased from what it was a decade ago, even a few years ago. The Adelaide branch has had the full line of TMHA products for years.”
Mr Harper said TMHA Adelaide’s growth has been tracked in market share. “We’ve gone from a mid-twenties market share ten years ago to our present market share, which is in the forties, so inevitably we required infrastructure to match increased demand.
“There were constraints on the volume we could put through our workshop before, but now we have vastly increased resources to meet growth in equipment sales and our rental and servicing requirements.”
The new facility dwarfs its predecessor’s 7,000m2 footprint and 4,000m2 building size, as Mr Harper explained: “Our new facility here in Gepps Cross has 1,000m2 of office space incorporating a new-unit showroom to showcase the vast breadth and depth of our product range, and a dedicated training facility,” he said.
“We also have a dedicated parts area with its own entrance. Parts are very important to our business and we needed to ensure easy accessibility for our parts customers.
“Our new state-of-the-art 5,000m2 workshop area, accompanied by another 6,000m2 of hardstand area for loading and unloading, is impressive – especially given it’s three times the size of our old workshop. That’s a huge difference for us. It gives us the ability to service over 4,000 forklifts that we have under service and rental.”
Additional features of the workshop include a new on-site spray booth, a wash-bay that uses recycled water, overhead gantry, and storage space for the branch’s short-term rental fleet. “We also have more workbays for our staff, which means we can work on our customers’ equipment more efficiently and, hopefully, return it quicker than ever before,” he said.
Mr Harper said further time savings have been gained by bringing the storage of new machines onto the same site as the pre-delivery workshop. “The former site operated two distinct buildings: one being the main facility where we had our sales force, undertook repairs, and our parts operation. The other was basically a pre-delivery facility for equipment such as forklifts.
“Now we have increased the speed of machine delivery by consolidating the two and bringing the storage of new machines onto the same site as the pre-delivery workshop.
“We now have only one workshop and all our other functionality is in the same envelope. Being able to have all services available under the one roof allows us to service our customers more efficiently and effectively.”
Customers will not have to travel far from the previous Cavan Road location to experience the benefits of the new facility. “Our new location in Matthews Road is only around the corner from our old facility, which is handy for our customers as they’ll have the general location familiarity.
“Matthews Road is off one of the main arterials in Gepps Cross, Wakefield Road, from where you can’t miss our new signage. We’re still twenty minutes’ drive from the city, right in the heart of Adelaide’s industrial area. It’s also a central location from which we can get to our customers for service requirements.”
After many years of planning, Mr Harper is thrilled to be in the now officially opened facility, along with his staff, whom he thanked for their contribution to the project, along with input from TMHA branches, nationally.
“We’re very excited to be here and seeing our new facility in action. Everything is modern, clean and new – as is befitting of Toyota Material Handling’s image and expected of a market leader.
“We have opened a facility that can meet all of the contemporary needs of our customers who demand not just a supplier of equipment but a full provider of systems and services. It’s a demonstration of our commitment to our customers and we think they will be very pleased with our new location and experience.
“We have lots of parking for customers and staff. Customers are enjoying our new amenities including a dedicated area where we can have a coffee with them and discuss their needs. It’s an enhanced customer experience.”
Photo courtesy of https://makechocolatefair.org.
With an increasing focus on the humanity of companies’ supply chains, Australian businesses are looking to how they respond to new modern slavery legislation in Australia and NSW.
Nestlé has announced that human rights training developed for its staff is now available publicly. The move aims to help businesses looking to understand the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP) and help them to move towards understanding how they apply in their own businesses.
Nestlé head of corporate and external relations Margaret Stuart said others were free to use or adapt the training as they see fit.
“We hope it inspires and helps others, particularly smaller companies that might be struggling to figure out what human rights means for them, and how they might respond to the new modern slavery legislation,” Ms Stuart said.
The training draws on work Nestlé has carried out in this area with its long-term partner the Danish Institute for Human Rights, and on the knowledge Nestle has acquired in the process.
“When the UNGP came out in 2011, Nestlé, like many other companies, had to understand what this meant for our own business, and had to set up due diligence programs to translate the UNGP into simple, tangible action,” Ms Stuart said.
“In sharing this training, we hope to help Australian companies looking to respond to the new legislative requirements – but more than that, we also recognise that many Australian companies are involved in our own value chain, as direct or indirect suppliers, or as customers. What strengthens one, strengthens us all.”
In many instances, Nestlé has made details of its human rights due diligence and action plans public to help others facing similar challenges.
“We have a long way to go, as does the entire private sector, but we hope this training makes a contribution both in our own business, and more widely.”
The company said more than 100,000 Nestlé employees across 72 countries have already been trained in human rights since 2011, and all employees will complete the training by 2020.
The training module is now available here.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI technology in supply chain seeks to augment human performance. Through self-learning and natural language, AI capabilities can help automate various supply chain processes such as demand forecasting, production planning or predictive maintenance.
“AI supports the shift to broader supply chain automation that many organisations are seeking,” said Mr Titze. “For example, AI can enhance risk mitigation by analysing large sets of data, continuously identifying evolving patterns, and predicting disruptive events along with potential resolutions.”
Advanced analytics span predictive analytics — those that identify data patterns and anticipate future scenarios — as well as prescriptive analytics — a set of capabilities that finds a course of action to meet a predefined objective. The increased availability of Internet of Things (IoT) data and extended external data sources such as weather or traffic conditions allow organisations to anticipate future scenarios and make better recommendations in areas such as supply chain planning, sourcing and transportation.
“Advanced analytics are not new, but their impact on today’s supply chains are significant,” said Mr Titze. “They will help organisations become more proactive and actionable in managing their supply chains, both in taking advantage of future opportunities and avoiding potential future disruptions.”
The IoT is the network of physical objects that contain embedded technology to interact with their internal states or the external environment. “We are seeing more supply chain practitioners exploring the potential of IoT,” said Mr Titze. “Areas on which IoT might have a profound impact are enhanced logistics management, improved customer service and improved supply availability.”
Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
RPA tools operate by mapping a process in the tool language for the software ‘robot’ to follow. They cut costs and eliminate keying errors. “We are seeing a significant reduction in process lead times RPA technology is used to automate the creation of purchase and sales orders or shipments, for instance,” said Mr Titze. “RPA technology reduces human intervention and improves consistency across manual data sources within manufacturing.”
Autonomous things use AI to automate functions previously performed by humans, such as autonomous vehicles and drones. They exploit AI to deliver advanced behaviours that interact more naturally with their surroundings and with people.
“The rapid explosion in the number of connected, intelligent things has given this trend a huge push,” said Mr Titze. “The once distant thought of reducing time for inventory checks by using drones’ cameras to take inventory images, for instance, is here.”
Digital Supply Chain Twin
A digital supply chain twin is a digital representation of the relationships between all physical entities of end-to-end supply chain processes — products, customers, markets, distribution centres/warehouses, plants, finance, attributes and weather. They are linked to their real-world counterparts and are used to understand the state of the thing or system in order to optimise operations and respond efficiently to changes.
“Digital supply chain twins are inevitable as the digital world and physical world continue to merge,” said Mr Titze.
Immersive experiences such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and conversational systems are changing the way people interact with the digital world. “In supply chain, organisations might use AR along with quick response (QR) codes and mobile technology to speed up equipment changeovers in factories,” said Mr Titze. “Immersive user experiences will enable digital business opportunities that have not yet been fully realised within global supply chains.”
Blockchain in Supply Chain
Although supply-chain-related blockchain initiatives are nascent, blockchain has potential to fulfil long-standing challenges presented across complex global supply chains. Current capabilities offered by blockchain solutions for supply chain include traceability, automation, and security.
“Organisations might use blockchain to track global shipments with tamper-evident labels, allowing a reduction in the time needed to send paperwork back and forth with port authorities and improved counterfeit identification,” said Mr Titze.
“The 2019 Top Supply Chain Technology Trends You Can’t Ignore,” from Gartner provides an outlook into other emerging trends that might disrupt supply chain operations in the upcoming years, such as 5G and edge computing.
Australian Border Force (ABF) officers in Sydney have stopped approximately 256 litres of the narcotic Gamma Butyrolactone (GBL, taken as GHB) declared as compressor oil from reaching Australian streets.
ABF officers targeted an air cargo shipment consisting of 16 boxes labelled as ‘compressor oil’ for inspection. Each box was found to contain a number of bottles.
X-rays revealed inconsistencies in the contents of some of the bottles.
Further testing revealed approximately 128 litres of GBL secreted throughout the shipment.
On 26 April, ABF officers selected an identical consignment for inspection. Upon examination, it was also found to contain approximately 128 litres of GBL.
Both detections remain under investigation.
It’s very easy to take too much
ABF Superintendent Investigations NSW Garry Low said this detection should serve as a warning to those thinking of importing or exporting illegal substances.
“GBL can ruin your life in a single incident. It is an incredibly dangerous substance with a very high overdose rate,” Superintendent Low said.
“The ABF screens tens of millions of articles each year, and the fact we are able to pinpoint individual shipments and detect and seize these drugs at the border is a testament to the skills of our officers.”
Anyone with information about the importation of illicit substances should contact Border Watch at: www.australia.gov.au/borderwatch.