Uber recently introduced UberRUSH, a new service in Manhattan that foreshadows their larger role in logistics trends.

UberRUSH is piloting a bike and foot courier service designed to get things where you need them to be. For $15 a trip, Uber can dispatch couriers to transport everything from legal documents to high-fashion garments to house keys for guests.

Rather than focusing solely on transportation, the addition of UberRUSH uses the same back-end technology to easily track deliveries, making it a logical addition to their service offerings.

Ubers’ additional service of transporting things rather than just people stems from a shifting economy and the increased demand to move the physical—navigating urban logistics in a world where crowded cities will only continue to expand.

Earlier, we discussed Shyp, a company that would pick up anything you needed to mail and ship it for you. While UberRUSH focuses on getting things from point A to point B, it’s no surprise that we’re starting to see a logistical shift in service offerings. With more and more being done online, we still need time and resources to do things in the physical world.

How will services like UberRUSH and Shyp affect logistics? Share your thoughts by commenting on our Facebook or twitter pages.

Pain in the Supply Chain, a recent survey from UPS, revealed the top challenges facing global healthcare logistics executives, highlighting future plans to reveal strategies of successful healthcare executives and how they are overcoming top supply chain challenges.

Two of the main characteristics among successful healthcare supply chain executives were IT investments and distribution partnerships.

Regulatory compliance, product security and cost management were the top three supply chain concerns around the world. However, for the first time since the start of the survey, product security overtook cost management as the number-two issue. This is primarily due to the increase in counterfeit pharmaceuticals and the need for increased security throughout the supply chain.

Compared to other industries, healthcare logistics has had some interesting obstacles to overcome in the past few years—namely, a constantly changing legislative and economic environment. Despite ever-mounting challenges, healthcare executives plan the following strategic investments within the next five years:

  • 84 percent plan to invest in new technologies
  • 78 percent will tap new global markets
  • 70 percent plan to increase the usage of new distribution channels and models to increase efficiencies and competitiveness.

Supply chain leaders know that success is built from investments and stems from leveraging virtual distribution models to enhance their agility.

Learn more about the findings from Pain in the Supply Chain.

Going Green
Going green isn’t just a lifestyle choice—these days, it’s an essential business decision. Companies are constantly searching for innovative ways to make their supply chains more environmentally friendly, but could the simplest solution be right in front of them?

Reverse Logistics
At its simplest, reverse logistics, and what makes it green—getting rid of waste, is also what makes the most sense from an economic standpoint. Reducing what is used to manufacture a product and reusing its components until the end of its life cycle both maximizes profit and greenness.

Reverse Logistics and Your Bottom Line
Luckily, managing reverse logistics to be green doesn’t necessarily have to cost a lot of green—most green strategies are ultimately beneficial for profit. In fact, reverse logistics typically yields 3-15 percent of the overall bottom line.

Designing in Reverse
Rather than thinking of reverse logistics as an afterthought, it’s helpful to think about it from the very beginning of a product’s lifecycle. Designing with its end-of-life use in mind will help reduce the product’s overall long-term environmental impact. Typically, products designed with fewer resources that allow for easy reuse or recycling translate into lower overall production costs.

With effective reverse logistics, businesses can also cut return processes, which cuts back on unnecessary transportation, ultimately reducing carbon emissions and improving air quality.

Learn more about how creative reverse logistics strategies can keep your business green and ultimately, help generate more green.

The increasing amount of web commerce in recent years has truly opened up the globalization of trade. While there are a lot of upsides for both the consumer and the businesses, there can be a lot of negative consequences.

Outsourcing has greatly increased the risk associated with sourcing in order to drive costs as low as possible. Because of this, standards of quality, fair labor and information capabilities are sometimes compromised.

Businesses with poor visibility into their suppliers can be unpleasantly surprised with a lack of information about their suppliers’ conditions and the market and environment in which they operate. If a supplier frequently struggles with political issues, poor weather, plant shutdowns, pollution and unstable currency, performance can be negatively affected.

In today’s multi-tier landscape, knowing your supplier is crucial. There’s often a lack of communication with suppliers and businesses are seldom made aware of labor or environmental disruptions that could negatively impact their supply chain.

Industries have a legislative and moral standard to abide by when they are evaluating their suppliers, but they also need to take risk into consideration. Recent research revealed that less than 50% of companies consider risk metrics in supplier evaluations.

It is crucial to monitor what supply chain components are manufactured by whom and gain visibility into the events surrounding the supplier to know how they will affect the supply chain.

By knowing and monitoring supplier risks, businesses will be able to mitigate crisis situations rather than letting them derail their entire supply chain. In addition, having complete visibility protects the consumer. With the right logistics in place, reverse logistics will allow for any item, no matter how small, to be tracked and traced, mitigating any potential risks.

While companies like Amazon seem to have their logistics models down, what about the logistics of smaller companies in developing nations?

In North America and much of Europe, goods are delivered by parcel, with an ever-increasing number of couriers to support e-fulfillment. Since more consumers are making their purchases online than ever before, one company may use three different courier services in order to ensure packages are delivered as quickly as possible.

In countries like Nigeria, poor road infrastructure is a huge problem, but also a huge driver for e-commerce. Physically shopping in Lagos will often involve waiting in hours of traffic and then having to find vendors amidst the crowds of outdoor markets.

Although the demand for e-commerce is there, challenges also present themselves. Because of the poor road infrastructure and traffic, most of the couriers travel by motorcycle, which limits the amounts and sizes of products they can take. It’s hard to imagine e-commerce coming into more rural areas of the country—package tracking would definitely be a must. In addition, theft prevention is huge—each driver must be vetted—even spouses and other relatives are met to ensure good character. Security at the warehouse is also very important.

These logistical challenges are far greater than those of the US, but the reward could also be much greater, with online retail growing at a 17 percent CAGR. However, retailers in developing markets are still worried about financial and logistical infrastructure.

A recent study from MIT on supply-chain risk revealed that there is no correlation between the total amount a manufacturer spends with a supplier and the profit loss it would incur if that supply were suddenly interrupted. This finding defies what you might usually think.

Professor David Simchi-Levi of MIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Engineering Systems Division applied quantitative analysis to Ford Motor Company’s supply chain and discovered that the suppliers who would cause the most damage to Ford’s profits are those that provide low-cost components.

“This helps explain why risk in a complex supply network often remains hidden,” says Simchi-Levi. “The risk occurs in unexpected locations and components of a manufacturer’s supply network.”

Risks can range from a minor hiatus in work to a major natural disaster. Sources of low-probability, but high-impact risk are difficult to identify.

However, manufacturers often assume their greatest supply-chain risk is linked to suppliers of high expenditure, which Simchi-Levi proved wrong.

Learn more about Simchi-Levi’s findings and how assessing risk can positively impact your supply chain.

Tomorrow is February 14—Valentine’s Day. While most people are thinking of their special someone’s, companies are thinking about logistics, transportation and distribution.

It’s estimated that over 2 billion Americans will be celebrating this year by purchasing flowers, cards, candy and other gifts. While everyone appreciates getting gifts, not everyone appreciates how they arrive.

The transportation and logistics industry plays a huge role in making your Valentine’s Day run smoothly. The trickiest part about shipping goods for Valentine’s Day is that the most popular gifts to give—candy and flowers—are perishable. Temperature-controlled transportation is crucial in order to ensure the goods arrive in good condition.

Did you know:

  • The National Retail Federation’s estimates that consumers will spend $17.3 billion on Valentine’s Day
  • 36 million heart-shaped chocolate boxes are sold for Valentine’s Day each year
  • 110 million roses will be sold and delivered within a three-day time period

With all of these things happening in such a short amount of time, the right transportation, logistics and package tracking are essential for ensuring everything arrives on time and in good condition for Valentine’s Day.

As much as selling goods on eBay or sending a friend a package can be enjoyable, physically going to the post office, UPS or FedEx to mail a package can be a pain. There’s almost always a line, tons of packing options and countless questions about which tier of service you want. Pick the wrong one, and you could be paying double what you expected!

But, what if you could ship goods without visiting a courier? Meet Shyp—a San Francisco based start-up that wants to change the way we ship goods. Shyp customers simply take a picture of what they need to ship and a driver comes to pick it up—that’s it. Essentially, Shyp is the Uber of shipping.

The photograph helps Shyp drivers assess what packaging materials will be necessary and ensures the goods will fit in their vehicle. Once the driver picks up the goods, they are placed into a bag with a QR code on it that helps Shyp keep track of where each item is going.

Weighing, packing, printing and boxing the goods are all handled at Shyps’ warehouse. Once that process is complete, Shyp ensures the packages get to the correct carrier on time.

If you’re thinking a service like this is expensive, then think again. Customers are charged the USPS going rate. Shyp makes a profit by finding the most affordable carrier that meets its requirements and pays lower wholesale rates.

While Shyp was conceived to help consumers send packages, businesses have been very interested in the service. Shyp is still in private beta, but shipments are steadily growing through word-of-mouth. Some customers have even enlisted Shyp’s help to move their belongings across the country! Who needs moving vans?

Companies like Shyp could have a definite impact on the logistics game. It’s an ideal service for small or start-up companies that don’t have their own mailroom management process and don’t want to spend the time or hassle of handling their own shipping.

How do you think companies like Shyp will impact logistics? Share your thoughts by commenting on our Facebook or twitter pages.

On Sunday, February 2nd the IntelliTrack Stratus products were updated. Please be sure to update your Stratus Mobile application.

IntelliTrack Stratus contains the following new features in this release:

Containers: The following dimensions, length, width, height, and weight may be recorded for a container in the Stratus web application and in StratusMobile. In the Stratus web application, four new fields are found in the Header portion of the Manage Containers page: Length, Width, Height, and Weight. In the StratusMobile application, the Manage Containers screen contains a new tab: Dimensions. This tab includes the four dimension fields: Length, Width, Height, and Weight. For each dimension, you must also set a measurement unit.

Additional Windows Mobile Support: IntelliTrack Stratus now offers support for two additional Windows Mobile operating systems: Windows Mobile 5 and Windows Mobile 6.5. At the Download Mobile Application page in the Stratus web application, you will find two new mobile installers: the Universal Windows Mobile 5 installer and the Universal Windows Mobile 6.5 installer.

Stratus Import/Export Utility: three new templates have been added to the Stratus Import/Export Utility: the Assets Import template, the Assets Export template, and the Issue, Pick, and Return Orders Export template. Import assets and asset inventory into Stratus, export assets from Stratus into an external file, and export Issue, Pick, and Return Orders from Stratus into an external file with this utility.

On Sunday, February 2nd updates will be applied to the IntelliTrack Stratus products. The updates will take roughly an hour during which time the site will be unavailable.