Amazon exceeded second-quarter profit expectations by earning $7.8 billion, or $15.12 per share, but it failed to meet analyst expectations for sales, which increased 27% year over year to $113.1 billion. The company's performance was fueled by continued diversification into different business segments, such as cloud computing and advertising.
Independent distributors can best compete against the likes of Amazon Business by selling on more than one B2B online marketplace, say Alex Moazed and Nick Johnson of Applico. "We think that the best outcome for distributors would be if there is not that dominant, multi-category generalist that has 40% to 50% of online sales in B2B," Johnson says.
United Natural Foods announced that Sandy Douglas, the former CEO of Staples, will become its CEO on Aug. 9, replacing the retiring Steve Spinner. The UNFI board also elected Jack Stahl as independent chairman, also effective Aug. 9.
United Rentals earned $293 million in the second quarter on revenue of $2.29 billion, both up from a year earlier. The results "reflected a continued recovery across our construction and industrial markets," CEO Matthew Flannery says.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning can mine data to generate findings that can make e-commerce more profitable, writes Rohan Thambrahalli, founder and president of UpstartWorks. Automation can also save companies time and money with e-commerce, Thambrahalli writes.
Machine learning and artificial intelligence are important technologies that add value to the production process, but humans are still necessary to convert data into intelligent decisions, writes Arno Koch, owner of Makigami BV. Koch offers six recommendations for how factories can integrate smart technology, and notes that "simplification, standardization, stabilization, engaging people and reduction of non-value-adding activities are good ideas."
Tesla, Ford and Volkswagen are among manufacturers planning to use lithium-iron-phosphate cells in some electric vehicles and products, citing their cheaper cost and not needing cobalt and nickel, which are scarce and susceptible to price fluctuations. "The good news for building local LFP manufacturing is that the supply chain is simple: Outside of lithium, it's iron and phosphoric acid, two cheap materials already made [in the US] in large quantities," says Sam Jaffe, head of Cairn Energy Research Advisors.
Toy companies including Mattel, Hasbro and MGA Entertainment warn they will increase prices during the holiday season due to supply shortages and rising costs for materials, labor and shipping. The daily spot rate for 40-foot containers from China to the West Coast reached $18,346 Wednesday, compared with $2,680 in July 2020.
Manufacturers need to recruit for "superjobs," which combine traditional manufacturing skills and the latest technology, as well as develop a younger and more diverse talent pool, writes Stephen Laaper of Deloitte Consulting. "By combining the strengths of the human workforce with machines and platforms, manufacturers can achieve exponential improvements in customer service, output and productivity," Laaper writes.
Manufacturing has long been synonymous with Six Sigma development -- relentless perfectionism and then releasing a new product. But a different project approach is necessary if manufacturers want to stay agile in digital transformation efforts meant to center on the customer. Learn what organizations can do to adopt a customer experience-focused mindset and transform in the ways that matter most. Join this discussion with speakers from Simplus, Komatsu and W.R. Grace on Monday, Aug. 2. Learn more and register here.
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