Hauling New Treasure Along the Silk Road (NYT)

Hewlett-Packard, the Silicon Valley electronics company, has pioneered the revival of a route famous in the West since the Roman Empire. For the last two years, the company has shipped laptops and accessories to stores in Europe with increasing frequency aboard express trains that cross Central Asia at a clip of 50 miles an hour.

Dell’s Perfect Order Journey (Forbes)

Dell has a large and complex supply chain – 22.3 million orders per year with an average of 125,000 systems shipped per day. This impacts the company’s order fulfillment performance and as a result Dell saw it’s Net Promoter Score (NPS) go down. NPS is calculated based on responses to a single simple question: How likely is it that you would recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague? It can be used to gauge the loyalty of a firm’s customer relationships and claims to be correlated with revenue growth.

Amazon Considers Opening Hundreds Of Bookstores (Fortune)

Is Amazon about to follow in the footsteps of the bookstores it put out of business? According to The Wall Street Journal, the e-commerce giant intends to open 300 to 400 physical bookstores in the U.S., citing a shopping mall CEO with knowledge of the plans.

Open Data Expands Market for Analytics Service (WSJ)

Navistar’s remote diagnostics system, built to work with its own trucks and buses as well as those of competing manufacturers, shows how using public software interfaces and a mix of internal and external data can open up new revenue streams

The top 10 causes of supply chain disruption loss

Top causes of business interruption loss globally, by total value (2010-2014):
1. Fire and explosion
2. Storm
3. Machinery breakdown
4. Faulty design/material/manufacturing
5. Strike/riot/vandalism
6. Cast loss (entertainment)
7. Flood
8. Collapse
9. Human error/operating error
10. Power interruption

China’s Manufacturing Initiatives Increasingly Are Coming in the U.S. (WSJ)

At a time when many believe China’s role as a manufacturing powerhouse is waning, Chinese companies are investing in factories in the U.S. And Chinese manufacturers are leveraging the knowledge they’re gaining in the U.S. factories back home to help them move from low-value sectors into higher-value markets and products.

Belgian Clothing Retailer JBC Using RFID at 144 Stores

The deployment involves the use of RFID tags to track garments at the point of manufacture, in the distribution center and on store shelves. In April 2016, the retailer expects to use the RFID solution to track purchases at the point of sale (POS). JBC says it now has visibility into the full supply chain for the more than 17 million pieces of apparel it sells annually, from 100 different suppliers, including 1.5 million hanging garments and 15.5 million flat-packed items.

Can Cool Clothes Get Any Cheaper Than This?

Primark has built a reputation for early, aggressive orders of styles its buyers think will trend, and for sticking with them. In an industry where retailers cancel orders that are already on freighters and force suppliers to take financial hits when product doesn’t sell, that edge gives suppliers the confidence to cut better deals for Primark. When the company’s daily sales analysis shows a need to change direction, it marks down and moves on.

IDC supply chain predictions foretell widespread transformation

The next four years are likely to see a re-imagining of the manufacturing supply chain amid changing customer demands and technological innovation.

Struggling Toys ‘R’ Us Tries Fuller Stores (WSJ)

More than a decade after Toys “R” Us Inc. was acquired in a leveraged buyout, the retailer is still struggling with a chronic problem: running out of goods during the important holiday season. To tackle the issue, Chief Executive David Brandon, who took the helm in July, asked engineers to design an algorithm to better predict when goods will run low. He also is filling shelves with more products—a move that is counter to the get-lean mind-set of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and other retailers.

Automakers in Chennai face logistics nightmare

Automobile manufacturers in and around Chennai have suffered heavy losses due to the floods. While most of the original equipment manufacturers have restored operations, many are facing challenges since supply chains have not been fully restored. Logistics, due to road conditions, continues to pose a challenge.

The Creed of Speed (Economist)

There is an impression that the pace of business is speeding up, which is not supported by the data. However, firms still need to pay new attention to time as they can be seen as time transformers, mediating the different time horizons of customers, staff, suppliers and owners. Mastering the clock of business is about choosing when to be fast and when to be slow.

Amazon Buys Own Truck Trailers for Warehouse to Warehouse

Amazon has purchased thousands of trailers to make sure it had the shipping capacity to move products on time as its North American business continues its rapid growth. The trailers will be utilized to transport items from one Amazon fulfillment center to another as well as between fulfillment centers and sort centers, where Amazon organizes orders by zip code to be delivered to local post offices. It will continue to rely on existing trucking partners, which own and drive the tractor portion of the vehicles that will tow the Amazon trailers.

Wal-Mart Revamps E-Commerce Technology as Amazon Applies Pressure (WSJ)

A massive overhaul project begun in 2012 and named Pangaea, for the prehistoric supercontinent that broke apart to rearrange world geography. For Jeremy King, the diehard engineer who is chief technology officer of Wal-Mart’s global e-commerce operation, Pangaea was a chance to rearrange the world’s biggest company. Mr. King’s team has remade everything from how Wal-Mart’s website works and looks to underlying transaction software, databases and servers, and the backend data center tools to manage it all. Wal-Mart built new cloud infrastructure and data centers and wrote its own search engine in its all-out effort to develop the technological wherewithal to compete with Amazon.

Unilever Finds That Shrinking Its Footprint Is a Giant Task (NYT)

Unilever’s sustainable living plan pledges to cut the company’s environmental impact in half by 2020, it also vows to improve the health of one billion people and enhance livelihoods for millions, all while doubling its sales. None of this is easy to achieve. In broad terms, sustainability means meeting the needs of today while preserving resources for tomorrow. But selling more products means consuming more energy and more natural resources. However, Unilever’s factories are emitting 37 percent less emissions than in 2008, even while producing more goods. Waste going to landfills is down 85 percent. At the same time revenue is up 22 percent, though profits are up less.

The Shape of ‘Things’ to Come (Inbound Logistics)

As sensors, communications systems, and analytics solutions all become cheaper, faster, and more capable, many more things will start talking to one another via the Internet. Supply chain operations are already part of that exchange.

TPP intends to spark a boom in trade in services, but it will take time

TPP is about opening up trade for services industries so that one day they may be as efficient and as globally integrated as manufacturing is today. TPP is a step toward that ideal, but just one of many that are needed. This process was slow for manufacturing as many pieces had to fall in place. For most of industrial history, countries traded raw materials or finished goods, with the process of turning the one into the other located entirely within a single country, and often within a single factory. From the 1980s, however, a large and rapidly growing share of trade consisted of “intermediate goods”. Rather than produce a computer from scratch in one country, for example, a tech firm would source components from several different countries, bring them together in yet another country for assembly, and then ship the completed good to consumers around the world. The great supply-chain revolution was slow in coming, however. Tariff rates fell precipitously from the 1940s to the 1980s, by which time the duties imposed on most goods traded between rich economies had fallen to negligible levels. The shift to container shipping, which made transit by sea much faster and more reliable, was largely over by the early 1980s. From 1950 to 1985 the cost of a long-distance phone call dropped dramatically. Yet it was not until the 1990s that the supply-chain boom really got going, abetted in part by China’s economic opening.