ups
SUPPLY CHAIN

UPS uses beacons to quell shipping errors

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

UPS is taking steps to improve order accuracy.

A new program called Preload Smart Scan notifies workers if they have placed an item in the wrong delivery vehicle. Historically, these snafus forced drivers to travel miles out of their way to correct the mistakes.

Preload Smart Scan uses smart technology to avoid this issue. Specifically, the program comprises Bluetooth-enabled beacons that communicate with package-scanning devices worn by UPS employees as they load packages onto vehicles. The scanners, which read package labels, are programed to know where a package belongs in a specific vehicle.

The beacons send signals that are unique to certain vehicles and their position within the vehicle. The scanners detect those signals. If a package enters the wrong car or truck, the scanner will notify the loader of the error.

“This is an important step toward improving accuracy in our operation,” said John Dodero, UPS VP of industrial engineering. “It raises the level of service we provide to our customers. It also makes us more efficient and generates valuable cost savings.”

UPS beacons will be in 301 U.S. locations this year, reaching a total of 28% of U.S. facilities, and 47% of U.S. package cars. UPS also plans to expand the initiative to facilities internationally, according to the company.

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C-SUITE

Longtime Target exec to leave

BY Marianne Wilson

Target Corp. is losing a senior digital executive.

Casey Carl, chief innovation and strategy officer, is leaving the retailer, effective May 5. His departure, first reported by The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, comes as the chain has been reducing some of its innovation initiatives, including a store of the future with robots, to focus on efforts that have a faster payback.

Casey joined Target in 1997, and held a variety of roles in merchandising, negotiations, operations and digital. Prior to being named to his current position, he was president of omnichannel and senior VP of enterprise strategy.

Target CEO Brian Cornell announced Carl's upcoming departure in an e-mail to headquarters employees.

"Innovation is alive and well at Target," Cornell wrote. "Our new leader's job will be to build upon the progress we've made. And while this leader will play a critical role in Target's innovation story, it's not a story they will write alone. Innovation must be a mind-set, an essential component of every business, every strategy and every team."

Carl is credited for such projects as Target Open House in San Francisco, which showcases smart technologies in a futuristic home-like setting, and Target’s retail accelerator program, done in partnership with Techstars.

In his own email to employees, Carl wrote that he hopes to continue to explore disruptive strategies for growth and innovation, the report said.

“It's no secret that there's been a lot of change recently at Target and this is the right time for me to pursue what I'm most passionate about and builds upon what I've started here," he wrote.

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ECOMMERCE

Amazon heads Down Under

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

The Australian retail marketplace is in for a huge shake-up.

Amazon is preparing to operate an online store in Australia, offering the country’s consumers access to more categories. Amazon already sells Kindle e-books and readers, Audible audiobooks, and online shoppers can also download apps, but this move will bring “a retail offering to Australia,” according to the e-retailer.

This will be welcome news for Australian shoppers who previously ordered other merchandise categories on Amazon’s Marketplace — a global marketplace for third-party sellers. Currently, more than 1,000 Australian companies sell their wares on the platform.

However, this service forced shoppers to wait nine to 12 days for orders arriving with standard shipping, and pay hefty shipping rates, according to The Seattle Times.

Rumors have been swirling about the possibility of Amazon entering the Australian marketplace and providing local ordering and delivery of goods. A statement confirmed that Amazon is now ready to take the “next step to bring a retail offering to Australia, and we are making those plans now."

Australia is also not new territory for Amazon. The company established roots Down Under in 2012, when it launched its cloud-based Amazon Web Services, and built more momentum when it debuted a Kindle Store on Amazon.com.au in 2013. Approximately 1,000 employees manage these operations.

Looking ahead, “We are excited to bring thousands of new jobs to Australia, millions of dollars in additional investment, and to empower small Australian businesses through Amazon Marketplace. We are optimistic that by focusing on the things we believe customers value most – low prices, vast selection, and fast delivery – over time we’ll earn the business of Australian customers,” according to the retailer.

To support its new operations, the online giant is also shopping for warehouse space — a 93,000 square m (Australian) depot — in Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne, according to Business Insider Australia.

While the site’s launch date is not set in stone, it could debut as soon as July, according to the report.

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