Self-service ordering, inventory management and a mobile app are among the e-commerce offerings paying off for US Foods and changing how the company does business with customers. "We make our technology available to customers wherever they are, including a basement restaurant or a walk-in cooler," says Gene Carbonara, the company's e-commerce and digital director.
Logistics teams are using digital twins, internet of things technologies, blockchain and data analytics to stay relevant in an increasingly connected world, Yasaman Kazemi of Esri writes. "Supply chains that adopt transparency, comprehensive analytics, and cognitive technologies will have a distinct competitive advantage," she writes.
Companies can take steps when implementing reverse logistics to increase customer satisfaction with the returns process and the potential of future sales, advises Jake Rheude of Red Stag Fulfillment. These tips include posting a clear return policy so customers don't feel cheated, giving a quick survey to learn how to prevent future returns, and offering opportunities to exchange items or get store credit.
Black Friday return rates of up to 30% lead to billions in lost revenue and rising carbon emissions as returned items are handled, shredded and burned. A survey of 300 retailers found less than 50% of returned items could be sold at full price.
The Environmental Protection Agency will waive some regulations to allow auto dealers to send recalled Takata air bag inflators directly to a certified disposal facility rather than to Takata warehouses. The EPA is taking the action to try to keep the inflators out of the municipal waste stream and prevent their resale.
Daimler Trucks North America, in partnership with Filament, is using blockchain technology to improve its vehicle remanufacturing programs. A USB device called Blocklet records data from the parts supply chain as part of the initiative.
Amazon has launched a website called Second Chance that informs customers how to repair, recycle or return old electronic devices. Customers can send in old devices for trade-ins or free recycling and can also connect to customer service for 90 days after buying an item through the site.
Clique Brands will use customer data in the launch of its first beauty brand, starting with a clean skin-care line, next summer. The company also offered its social media followers the chance to test new products to help determine which items work for the target demographic.
Benefit has introduced the Brow Now button to keep influencers stocked up on brow products and cut down on packaging waste. The Internet of Things-enabled gadget connects to the Benefit team and lets influencers reorder just what they need when they need it.
Startup Fourpost is betting on the future of brick-and-mortar retail and helping small merchants create a physical retail presence. Fourpost has opened its first two locations at the Mall of America and Canada's West Edmonton Mall, where it will offer space for 30 brands, many of which are local.