Truckers, C’mon Back

Truckers, C’mon Back

The current demand for truck drivers is high. Or is it turnover that’s the problem? Or freight to carry?

A combination of driver shortage, high turnover, stressful life, and stagnant pay have contributed to a widespread rush to lure new drivers with financial incentives. If the shortage persists, the imbalance between supply and demand in this labor market will cause disruptions in the supply chain.

This post is based on the USA Today article,  Trucking Firms Offer Up to $8,000 for Drivers to Ease Shortage, by T. Evanoff, December 26, 2017.

Discussion Questions
1. What are the reasons for an apparently short supply of drivers?

Guidance: The main reasons seem to be low pay, demographics, difficult living conditions, and lack of privacy. The pay has been relatively flat since the 1980s, and like in many other industries, it has not fully recovered from the negative effect of the great recession. The large trucking companies’ hiring of inexperienced drivers seems to have heightened that effect. Many drivers are baby boomers and are retiring, further exacerbating the shortage. Truck drivers work many hours and are away from home most of the time. The addition of cameras in the cabins Continue reading

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The Incredible Shrinking Store

The Incredible Shrinking Store

Threatened by online shopping, large retail stores are attempting to change their image and downsize their facilities. Sears, Macy’s, Target, Walmart, etc. are opting for smaller, focused stores with fewer product lines, fewer brands, and contained layouts.

Lower real estate costs are an obvious benefit, but the challenges of meeting customers’ existing expectations and needs for variety are daunting. Sears is experimenting with a combination of reduced product offerings on its premises and access to an expanded inventory via computer kiosks throughout the store.

This post is based on the Boston Globe article,  Can the Rapidly Shrinking Store Save Legacy Retailers?, by A. Bhattarai, December 26, 2017.

Discussion Questions
1. What are the external factors that have led large retailers to downsize their brick-and-mortar stores?

Guidance: Factors include fierce online competition forcing cost reductions, changing markets (demographics, location, and preferences), and new technologies to display products within the store.

2. Many large retailers need to attract customers with a large variety of products and low costs. Are there trade-offs?

Guidance: On one hand, smaller facilities enable legacy retailers to cut costs and be more competitive; on the other, they limit the number of brands and product lines Continue reading

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Shipt and Instacart Deliver The Goods

Shipt and Instacart Deliver The Goods

January 1, 2018

Article Title: The Amazon-Whole Foods Deal Is Turning Out to Be Good for Delivery Startups

Author of Article: Craig Giammona

Date of article: December 12, 2017

Source URL: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-12/whole-foods-deal-provides-improbable-boost-to-delivery-startups

This Bloomberg  article looks at two food delivery startup companies: Shipt, Inc. and Instacart, Inc.  With Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods, the outlooks for these companies and traditional grocery stores looked bleak.  However, to compete against Amazon in the food delivery market, these two startups are partnering with traditional supermarkets to offer same-day delivery.

Shipt is planning to exceed revenues of $1 billion in 2018. Their focus is the Southeast and Midwest, and partners include Kroger, Publix Super Markets and H-E-B Grocery Co.

Instacart has also partnered with Kroger, and with Albertsons.

Both delivery startups have a similar approach.  Their retail partners make specific items available online.  They then send in a personal shopper to select and deliver the items.  Instacart offers a per-delivery fee, or unlimited delivery membership.   Shipt has a $99 annual membership plan with unlimited deliveries.

Discussion Questions
1. Why are retailers partnering with firms like Shipt and Instacart versus developing their own systems?

Guidance Continue reading

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