Archives for January 2019

Sharper Image catalog bucks the e-commerce trend with… Post-it notes?

By Ben Ames | January 15, 2019 | 6:14 PM

Conventional wisdom in retail circles holds that e-commerce is displacing traditional paper catalog sales in part because it allows stores to target individual consumers with tailored product recommendations generated by their buying histories.

However, fans of the specialty toy and personal goods catalog “The Sharper Image” may have noticed that this winter’s holiday edition departed from that narrative.

Instead of mailing its typical compilation of gadgets and gizmos, the “Holiday Preview 2018” version included a special twist. Thanks to modern printing technology, the catalog included virtual, digital “Post-it notes” superimposed over various pages, transforming the generic catalog into a list of personalized pitches. IMG_1954

The note on the cover read “Welcome back! Look for this note inside for personalized recommendations based on your past purchases.” Curiosity raised, I flipped to an inside page and found other digital sticky notes reading “CHECK this out!” or “you deserve THIS!” scrawled in a computer font suggesting handwritten script, as if a friend had bookmarked the catalog to highlight thoughtful suggestions.

In my version, a wireless TV speaker selling for $149.99 was marked with a digital note reading “You need this!” while a multi-surface cordless mop listed at $179.99 bore the tag “order it today!” (The note did not answer my deeper question, which is to ask whether normal mops aren’t ALREADY both multi-surface and cordless, and cost considerably less than $179.99).

A surround sound shower system worth $99.99 was marked “take a look!” while a $129.99 smart sensing digital ultrasonic humidifier said “exclusively for you!” and a $99.99 premium innovative defrosting tray was tagged “your new favorite!”

The e-commerce revolution is probably here to stay, notwithstanding The Sharper Image’s clever marketing ploy. After all, online retailing offers a host of other competitive benefits over mail-order fulfillment, such as faster home delivery speeds for orders, an exoneration of the postal fees needed to mail the volumes, and the agility to instantly update inventory and prices.

Still, the approach marked a clever way to push back again a dominant school of thought, showing that logistics practitioners will probably always be adjusting to new sales modes and strategies.

… and in case you’re curious, I did not order any of the curated goods described above. Drop me a line if you want to share a product review of that magical mop.



Birthdays of logistics firms in 2019 show burst of innovation

By Ben Ames | January 04, 2019 | 8:58 AM | Categories: Technology

A post went around social media over the New Year’s break, listing the ages in 2019 of a handful of consumer technology firms. The firms range from upstarts like the crowd-sourced, ride-hailing service Lyft (7 years) and the social network Snapchat (8 years) to stalwarts like personal computer pioneers HP (80 years) and IBM (108 years). The full list follows:

Clouds_dispatches_blogLyft: 7 years
Snapchat: 8 years
Uber: 10 years
Twitter: 13 years
Facebook: 15 years
Tesla: 16 years
Google: 21 years
Mozilla: 21 years
Netflix: 22 years
Amazon: 25 years
Apple: 43 years
Microsoft: 44 years
Intel: 51 years
HP: 80 years
IBM: 108 years

Source: Emil Protalinski, News Editor, VentureBeat

In the spirit of that exercise, we were curious about compiling a similar list for the logistics sector. Here are the ages in 2019 of companies providing supply chain services from freight brokering to robots, shipping visibility, transportation, systems integration, material handling, and retail.

The list reveals a burst of innovative data sharing and robotics products launched on the market in the past decade, as well as impressive longevity for software providers and traditional transport platforms.

What results will a similar exercise produce in another 10 years? At the rate our industry is creating clever solutions, the answer is sure to surprise. Check back in this column in 2029 for the big reveal…

Uber Freight: 2 years
Convoy: 4 years
RightHand Robotics: 4 years
6 River Systems Inc: 4 years
FourKites: 5 years
Fetch Robotics: 5 years
Project44: 5 years
Convey: 6 years
Transfix: 6 years
10-4 Systems: 7 years
XPO Logistics Inc.: 8 years
Uber: 10 years
Echo Global Logistics: 14 years
GlobalTranz: 16 years
Intelligrated (now a unit of Honeywell): 18 years
MercuryGate International Inc.: 19 years
Amazon.com Inc.: 25 years
Manhattan Associates: 29 years
JDA Software Inc.: 34 years
CMA CGM:  41 years
FedEx Corp.: 46 years
Penske Truck Leasing Co.: 50 years
Walmart Inc.: 57 years
J.B. Hunt: 58 years
Knapp AG: 67 years
UPS Inc.: 112 years
C.H. Robinson: 114 years
A.P. Moller-Maersk: 115 years
Swisslog Logistics Automation: 119 years
Union Pacific Railroad: 157 years
BNSF Railway: 160 years
Dematic (now a unit of Kion): 200 years

The opinions expressed herein are those solely of the participants, and do not necessarily represent the views of Agile Business Media, LLC., its properties or its employees.

Thoughts from our editors.

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