Staples is focusing on small businesses and independent contractors, as well as millennials, in its sales strategies and decision to install co-working locations inside select stores. The co-working concept was created in partnership with Workbar, which sells memberships to people who need a place to work outside of a home or office.
The customer journey on Amazon.com disguises a maze of pricing wars fueled by algorithms and involving an untold number of third-party sellers alongside Amazon's in-house products, writes Christopher Mims. This price volatility could increase as merchants become more sophisticated in their strategies and manufacturers increasingly sell directly instead of through resellers.
Distribution-center planning and design is changing as e-commerce sales and omnichannel requirements necessitate faster fulfillment and greater storage capacity. Automation can help facilities improve the efficiency of loading and shipping, and customer expectations will also require increased flexibility and strategic business investment.
The use of artificial intelligence to battle cyberattacks is expected to grow enough to partly offset the shortage of qualified professionals, but it's not a panacea, particularly if companies don't use basic defense tactics, writes Doug Drinkwater. Intertek executive Dane Warren said, "Through enhanced automation, orchestration, robotics, and intelligent agents, the industry will see greater advancement in both the offensive and defensive capabilities."
Synnex posted $61.8 million in net income on revenue of $3.52 billion in its latest quarter, with both figures up from the year-ago period. Synnex CEO Kevin Murai said shortages in solid-state drives and memory products have been overcome by strong performance in other areas.
Wolseley will change its name to Ferguson in July, citing its US subsidiary as its "most significant brand in our largest market," said CEO John Martin. Ferguson Enterprises CEO Frank Roach will retire and be replaced by Kevin Murphy, effective Aug. 1.
Amazon's expansion into air cargo is another effort to support its internal needs, and logistics providers such as UPS and FedEx should watch closely, says BoldIQ CEO Roei Ganzarski. "It would not be a stretch to envision a not too distant future in which Amazon sees the power, quality and potential of what they have, and offer it externally to any and all companies with cargo needs," Ganzarski says.
Visibility is the fastest and most cost-effective way to avoid unnecessary disruptions in the supply chain, Bill Ashburn writes. He outlines several ways to increase visibility using new technologies that match demand with supply and enhance partnerships.
Companies should consider starting a control system modernization project when current automation systems become too expensive to justify, write Laurie Ben and Aaron Crews of Emerson. "Modernization project teams can drive success by engineering a solution that distributes accurate and timely information to personnel enterprisewide, brings high-quality products to market, and delivers strong profits," they write.
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