Welcome to the Precision Software News Round-Up: 4 May 2018. This week we learnt that UPS is considering bulky goods delivery, that logistics companies may face severe staffing shortfalls, and that postal services in Canada and Ireland have been transformed by e-commerce.
The Canada Post Group of Companies saw a sharp rise in profits in 2017. This is due to the popularity of online shopping, which in turn has created a booming parcels market. The Group reported a profit of $144 million for 2017. That’s a healthy hike up from $81 million in 2016. The Group includes Canada Post, Purolator and SCI Group. In 2017, Canada Post’s parcels revenue increased to $2.13 billion, up from $1.74 billion. This helped offset the decline in the traditional transaction mail business. Transaction mail revenue fell to $2.91 billion compared with $3.04 billion in 2016. Furthermore, Purolator earned $88 million in 2017 — a huge jump from $48 million in 2016. For more on this story, please click here.
Online shopping has also transformed the services offerings and profitability of An Post, Ireland’s state-owned postal service. An Post returned to profit last year. The service earned €8.4m, compared to a €12.4m loss in 2016. An Post has extended parcel deliveries to Saturdays and there are plans to offer out-of-hours collections for parcels. In addition, the postal service is considering other services such as returns, tracking and redirections from local post offices. To read more, please click here.
This week Reuters reported that United Parcel Service Inc has been looking at moving into the delivery of heavy goods, such as furniture. This is one of the fastest growing areas of online retail, and according to reports UPS is in talks with at least one US trucking company. UPS does not offer currently offer “white glove” delivery — that is, product assembly or installation. Last mile delivery, including white glove services, looks set to grow alongside e-commerce over the next decade. Noel Perry, a transport futures economist, estimates that the market could grow from $3.7 billion today to around $12 billion in ten years. For more, please see Reuters.
E-commerce giant Alibaba has launched a blockchain initiative, the Food Trust Framework, with the aim of protecting and verifying product authenticity. It is hoped that this will increase customer confidence and enhance cross-border trade transparency. The initiative will use blockchain technology, along with product tagging and QR codes. The Food Trust Framework will trial with Australian vitamin brand Blackmores and New Zealand dairy brand Fonterra, along with Australia Post and New Zealand Post. PwC is to act as an advisor. If it works, Alibaba may extend it across its global supply chain. Food fraud is a particular concern due to the expansion of e-commerce. PwC reports that 40 percent of food companies have trouble detecting fraud using current methods. Perhaps more troubling, 39 percent say that their products are easy to counterfeit. You can read more about this here.
There are fears that logistics companies will face significant staffing shortfalls in future. At the recent Multimodal conference, Ian Nichol, head of logistics at Career Ready, told delegates that the industry will need an extra 1.2m employees by 2022. Logistics is one of the fastest growing industries, but this could be jeopardized by a lack of staff. Industry experts estimate that between a quarter and a third of logistics employees are nearing retirement age. In response, companies have created the NOVUS programme, an industry-led grouping of logistics degree courses at Huddersfield University. However, Bethany Fovargue, operations director at NOVUS believes that employers should aim to attract potential recruits much younger — at around fourteen years old. You can read more on this at The Loadstar.