Welcome to this week’s edition of the eCommerce and Logistics Roundup! Here are the top eCommerce and logistics news stories from the past week, including top stories regarding Brexit and Amazon, as well as Easyship’s views on how they may impact your company and the eCommerce industry as a whole.
Amazon Patents Delivery Robot for In-Home Deliveries
Amazon was recently issued a patent for a robot capable of retrieving packages at a home or office building. The robot will be able to communicate with delivery vehicles at specific times and locations for receiving the delivery. The technology also reportedly allows multiple robots to que up to receive deliveries when the delivery vehicle arrives, allowing multiple packages to be offloaded. Per the company’s filings, this new autonomous technology could allow for earlier deliveries, including overnight from 2am until 6am.
Our take: As we explored in our last logistics roundup, Amazon, much like FedEx, is expanding its use of autonomous robots for home and business deliveries, though Amazon’s technology is focused directly on the consumer rather than delivery from the courier like FedEx’s new technology.
The technology, if fully realized, could allow for more robust overnight delivery services, which could work to the benefit of both Amazon and entrepreneurs on busy delivery days like Amazon Prime Day. Potentially, it could also mesh with Amazon’s delivery franchise, Amazon Logistics, launched in 2018.
To learn more about Easyship’s integration with Amazon, click here!
Alibaba expands hold on China’s logistics sector
Chinese eCommerce titan Alibaba has strengthened its control of China’s logistics sector, purchasing a nearly 15 percent stake of STO Express, the Shanghai-based courier company. The move stands as the fourth investment made by Alibaba in a Chinese delivery company.
Our take: With China’s booming eCommerce market slated to reach approximately $1.8 trillion by 2022, Alibaba is poised to strengthen its grip on both online shopping and logistics. Unlike Amazon and JD.com, a domestic competitor, Alibaba doesn’t own the bulk of its logistics operations, like warehouses and courier services.
However, this appears to be steadily changing with the company’s purchase of a stake in STO Express and its similar investments as of late. eCommerce entrepreneurs looking to break into the coveted Chinese market could potentially benefit from more seamless integration between Alibaba’s online shopping and logistics services.
B2B and B2C eCommerce Companies Take More Distribution Space
Per Digital Commerce 360, both B2C and B2B eCommerce companies have recently leased more distribution space than other industries, according to the CBRE Group. eCommerce companies have reportedly rented more than 41 million square feet of warehouse space in the fourth quarter of 2018 alone. 3PL/logistics and manufacturers rented just 18 million and 13 million square feet, respectively.
Our take: This new data attests the strong growth of eCommerce and the need for growing warehouse space for the fast-growing sector. A growing trend where eCommerce businesses choose different suppliers to fulfill orders based on pricing - the demand for eCommerce warehouse space will likely continue to grow immensely in the future, furthering the need for timely inventory management and efficient warehousing methods.
To see how Easyship can assist with your company’s warehousing and fulfillment operations, click here!
Brexit’s impact on eCommerce looms
With Brexit just a few days away on March 29, 2019, the UK and global eCommerce landscapes alike will see a major impact from the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union. The possibility of a no-deal Brexit grew considerably on March 12 after Prime Minister Theresa May’s latest Brexit deal failed in Parliament, sowing additional uncertainty as the United Kingdom’s departure looms.
Much controversy in particular has centered on a “backstop Brexit” plan, which aims to keep Northern Ireland’s border with the Republic of Ireland open and free if Brexit talks ultimately fail.
Our take: Brexit, especially the growing possibility of a no-deal Brexit, appears poised to have a key impact on the international eCommerce landscape, especially in the UK and across the EU.
UK businesses could be impacted by the potential depreciation of the pound, which could provide a boost for exports in the short-term due to lower costs but hamper economic growth in the long-term. Depreciation of the pound will also likely have a major impact on a more global scale, as the cost of selling products to the UK from abroad will probably become more expensive. In addition, EU tariffs will likely rise prices on imports and impede commerce between the UK and the EU.
Ultimately, the end result of Brexit depends on a number of factors still in motion, particularly if Prime Minister Theresa May and Parliament are able to reach additional agreements before the March 29 deadline.