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SUPPLY CHAIN

Report: Amazon set to offer Chinese sellers air cargo shipment option

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Amazon is making its next global logistics move.

The online retailer plans to enable its Chinese sellers to fly their goods internationally as air cargo, according to MarketWatch.

Part of its “Amazon Logistics” operation, the retailer’s cross-border service is currently available to sellers listing on the Amazon platform. However, Amazon continues to develop its air freight solutions and services, and plans “to quickly introduce it to a large number of our sellers,” according to the Amazon Logistics website.

The air cargo service is the latest step in Amazon’s quest to add more logistics options, giving carriers like UPS and DHL a run for their money. For example, the retailer dipped its toe into the freight forwarder waters in January, a move that allows Amazon to control shipments between manufacturers and distribution points.

This was also the program of choice for merchandise being shipped from China to U.S.-based warehouses, MarketWatch reported.

These options illustrate the retailer’s increasing commitment to expand its logistics operations. Earlier this year, Amazon announced it would build an air cargo hub in Kentucky, which will be home base for its leased air fleet of 40 Boeing cargo jets — a program it calls Prime Air.

In November 2015, the company purchased thousands of trailers pulled by tractor trucks provided through partnerships with third-party transportation firms. These vehicles shuttle inventory throughout the supply chain.

The company is also in the midst of testing delivery drones for local deliveries.

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MOBILITY

Report: Fast-food giant enters mobile ordering race

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

It’s easier than ever for McDonald’s customers to order a Big Mac — and avoid long lines at service counters.

The fast-food chain began testing mobile ordering and payment functionality within its app at 29 restaurants in Monterey and Salinas, California, on Wednesday, March 15. Another 51 restaurants in Spokane, Washington, are slated to launch the service on March 20, according to Reuters.

A move that it expects to bring “greater control, convenience and personalization” to its customers, McDonald’s said the app lets customers digitally place orders and then come into a restaurant to pick them up. Shoppers can also use in-store kiosks that can connect to their app profile, which holds customized favorites and preferred payment methods.

The result is a more stress-free, personalized experience, enhanced by technology and world-class hospitality that puts customers in control, the chain added.

By the end of the year, McDonald’s expects mobile order and pay will be available in 20,000 restaurants in its largest markets, including the U.S.

McDonald’s may seem like a latecomer in the mobile ordering race, but its late entry gave the chain ample time to learn from competitors’ challenges, including Starbucks’ recent struggle with getting completed orders to mobile shoppers in a timely manner.

“It's better to be right than to be first to market,” McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook said in the Reuters report, which added the project is expected to cut transaction times, reduce errors and free up workers to do things like deliver food to tables or cars in spots designated for mobile orders.

Overall however, the mobile app is taking on a bigger role: to be the catalyst that wins back customers after four straight years of traffic declines, Reuters reported.

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REAL ESTATE

Off-pricers in big expansion push

BY CSA STAFF

Forget about online. The biggest threat to Macy’s and other department store retailers is coming from bricks-and-mortar.

Speaking at a recent conference in New York City, Macy's CFO Karen Hoguet said off-price retailers have proven a bigger long-term challenge to the company than the Internet, CNBC reported.

Three leading off-price brands — TJX Cos., Burlington and Ross — plan to open a combined total of nearly 300 U.S. stores this year, according to the report.

Click here to read more.

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