Logistics providers of all sizes must develop innovative solutions to adapt to an unpredictable marketplace. Some carriers are turning to increased rates, while others are adopting new delivery strategies to stand out among the competition. Regardless, it's clear that today's shippers must work hard to stay up to date. Here are eight headlines that reflect the latest news and trends shaping an industry that's always moving.
To remain competitive in a difficult shipping environment, UPS has announced plans to raise its shipping rates for 2023. Starting Dec. 27, the rates for some of the shipping giant's most popular services, including UPS Ground, Air, and International, will increase by as much as 6.9% percent. Other fees, such as late-payment charges, will increase by 8%.
These price hikes come as UPS attempts to improve infrastructure and operations. "This helps to support ongoing expansion and capability enhancements as we strive to maintain the high service levels you expect from UPS."
In a surprising turn of events, e-commerce giant Amazon extended its partnership with UPS. Until Nov. 1, Amazon customers will have the option of using UPS to make seller-fulfilled returns. According to Supply Chain Dive, "When it announced the "short-term experiment" in August, Amazon told sellers that providing customers with the convenience to drop off their return at a UPS store would encourage them to buy more."
Though some sellers have complained that customers returning through UPS would cost more than returns through USPS, which Amazon has allowed in previous years, Amazon has agreed to cover the difference in cost between UPS and USPS shipping labels.
In a worrying sign for the U.S. freight transportation industry, carriers are feeling pessimistic about fourth-quarter profits, despite a holiday surge. As a recent FreightWaves sentiment index reported, "The carrier segment scored slightly negative for near-term profitability (minus-2.83), which means that on the whole, it feels Q4 will be less profitable than Q3."
These results show the effect of a problematic transportation industry on carrier morale. Factors like ongoing equipment shortages, volatile fuel prices, and an uncertain regulatory environment have left shippers and logistics professionals unsure about the future.
As the Biden administration works to increase regulatory pressures on an emissions-prone transportation industry, the Environmental Protection Agency continues to punish polluters. In a recent settlement, UPS agreed to pay $5.3M in fines for hazardous waste violations at 1,160 facilities across the United States.
According to reporting from Supply Chain Dive, "The alleged regulatory violations included a failure to make land disposal determinations and conduct proper on-site hazardous waste management." The settlement signals an increasingly strict regulatory environment for shippers who fail to comply with federal standards.
To consolidate shipping resources, TL carrier Yellow Corp has announced its plans to combine New Penn and Holland regional carriers with its extensive YRC Freight network. As FreightWaves reports, Yellow plans to "combine 22 terminal locations operated by New Penn, Holland and YRC Freight in the East, Midwest, and parts of the South. Yellow will also create 35 short-haul velocity distribution centers and reduce its terminal network by 19 terminals."
Yellow hopes to improve delivery services throughout its operations with this investment in super-regional carrier strategies.
While many shippers focus on streamlined delivery in the last mile, some logistics innovators are considering a different delivery problem: Akash Agarwal, founder and Chief Business Officer of Beans.ai, a delivery startup, calls it "the last 100 feet problem." FreightWaves reports, "These are the issues that have gone largely unaddressed by last-mile delivery and mapping companies like Google Maps." For most shippers, the complicated variables occurring in the last 100 feet prevent doorstep delivery. While the last 100-feet industry is currently tiny, logistics providers desperate to stand out in a crowded delivery industry are sure to take interest.
While Hurricane Ian devastated large swathes of southwestern Florida, vital supply chain infrastructure was primarily spared compared to the cost of other recent natural disasters. Supply Chain Dive reports that despite the breadth of destruction, "the impact of the hurricane won't reverberate through supply chains to the same degree as the Texas deep freeze last year, which took 80% of U.S. basic organic chemicals capacity offline."
Though the large-scale power outages caused by Hurricane Ian caused slight hiccups in supply chains, logistics professionals quickly resolved most of these issues.
ASAP, the on-demand delivery branch of online food ordering company Waitr Holdings, has partnered with consumer goods giant Unilever to provide restaurants with on-demand access to iconic ice cream brands like Ben & Jerry's, Magnum, and Klondike. Food Dive reports, "ASAP will work with some of its restaurant partners to add Unilever's ice creams to their menus, but it will also deliver ice cream and treats from Unilever's virtual storefront, The Ice Cream Shop." A partnership with Unilever promises a valuable leg-up in an increasingly competitive industry for ASAP, a relative newcomer to the booming food delivery sector.
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President Biden is hopeful that the recently signed Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 (OSRA) will be a turning point for "the consumer price that hit a new 40-year high this month," according to Supply Chain Dive.