New Job for Robots: Taking Stock for Retailers (WSJ)

The complicated blending of inventories in stores and warehouses has some retailers testing the use of shelf-scanning robots that roam store aisles and send restocking data back through their networks.

The Impossible Burger Hasn’t Been Easy to Find

 Meatless patties made from plants and designed to “bleed,” in a faithful imitation of real red meat, exploded onto restaurant menus across the nation. Impossible Foods Inc., a Silicon Valley startup, appears to have hooked a burger-loving population on vegan food. By the end of July, Impossible said that about 10,000 restaurants—including White Castle, Red Robin and […]

IBM, Chainyard unveil blockchain-based ‘Trust Your Supplier’ network

IBM has partnered with Fortune 500 companies to launch the network, which is aimed at automating the validation and onboarding of buyers and suppliers.

Byte’s Smart Fridge Is Upstaging the Vending Machine

Byte Foods, founded in 2015 by husband-wife team Lee and Megan Mokri, is trying to introduce a new option to the office food mix. Their company supplies offices with smart fridges full of fresh, healthy food options from local producers, like coffee from Blue Bottle and falafel snack packs from Sinbad Specialty Foods. To use […]

The Science of Microbiome Analytics: DNA Detectives Tackle the Supply Chain

Phylagen is a San Francisco-based data analytics company that has developed a platform for tracing goods and materials back to the farm, warehouse or factory. The tool draws on microbiomes, unique types of naturally occurring microbes found all over the world. The genetic information encoded in those microbes create the equivalent of a biological fingerprint. […]

Retail Giant Target Working on a Blockchain for Supply Chains

Since mid-2018 the retailer has been working on a blockchain-powered solution for supply chain management, dubbed ConsenSource. More recently it pledged to support the Hyperledger Grid project, a supply chain framework that earlier saw participation from food giant Cargill, one of Target’s suppliers, together with tech giant Intel and blockchain startup Bitwise.io. The ConsenSource project, which Target […]

Zara Is Still Well Dressed (WSJ)

A cutting-edge business model no longer delivers blistering sales growth, but parent Inditex remains one of the steadiest bets in retail. Zara and other Inditex labels famously source a big chunk of their products from countries close to the company’s European hub. Just 40% of its clothing stock comes from Asia. That is half the […]

Canadian Trucking Firm Adopts AI, Then Jumps Into Consulting

Polaris, which owns about 200 tractors and 300 trailers, began its document-automation project in late 2017. The Mississauga, Ontario-based company processes between 700 and 800 documents daily. Before it deployed the new system, six to eight people at Polaris were dedicated to processing documents—sorting, reading and analyzing reams of shipping documents for accuracy and completeness—with […]

Blockchain’s Occam problem (McKinsey)

Blockchain has yet to become the game-changer some expected. A key to finding the value is to apply the technology only when it is the simplest solution available. There are specific use cases for which blockchain is particularly well-suited. They include elements of data integration for tracking asset ownership and asset status. Examples are found in insurance, supply chains, and capital markets, in which distributed ledgers can tackle pain points including inefficiency, process opacity, and fraud. Blockchain appeals to industries that are strategically oriented toward modernization. These see blockchain as a tool to support their ambitions to pursue digitization, process simplification, and collaboration. In particular, global shipping contracts, trade finance, and payments applications have received renewed attention under the blockchain banner. However, in many cases blockchain technology is a small part of the solution and may not involve a true distributed ledger. In certain instances, renewed energy, investment, and industry collaboration is resolving challenges agnostic of the technology involved.

Will Truckers Trade Futures? A New Market Seeks to Draw Freight Bets (WSJ)

The first futures tied to the cost of trucking goods across the U.S. are set to launch on Friday, a new financial tool designed to protect cargo haulers and shippers against swings in freight rates. Nodal Exchange, a unit of German exchange giant Deutsche Börse AG, plans to debut 11 new futures contracts linked to trucking costs. Futures allow firms to bet on whether the price of an asset will rise or fall, or to hedge against unfavorable price moves. There is an established market for futures-like contracts on ocean freight rates, but Nodal’s trucking futures will be the first of their kind, their creators say.

Successful IBM blockchain pilot for Mandarin Oranges

The project, involving a shipment of 28 tons of Mandarin Orange showed significant improvement in the bill of lading process. IBM, the container shipping operator Pacific International Lines (“PIL”), and the Singapore-based importer Hupco Pte Ltd. collaborated in this project. The pilot tracked the shipment using the blockchain-powered “e-BL” solution.

You Know Your Diamond’s Cut and Carat. But Does It Have Ethical Origins?(NYT)

Consumers want to know the origin of the things they buy, like the name of the farm that supplied their milk or the source of the feathers in a down jacket. But when it comes to a diamond — quite likely one of the most expensive and emotional purchases a jewelry buyer will ever make — most know next to nothing about the source of the stone. Tiffany & Company, is hoping to change that. Beginning Wednesday, it will start a program that will identify for customers the country where their diamond was mined, and, eventually, information on where it was cut, polished and set.

Kroger and Microsoft Create Futuristic Grocery Store (Bloomberg)

Kroger has remodeled two stores to test out new features to bring the ease of online shopping to brick-and-mortar grocery stores. These include “digital shelves” that can show ads and change prices on the fly along with a network of sensors that keep track of products and help speed shoppers through the aisles. Kroger could eventually roll out the cloud-based system it developed with Microsoft in all of its 2,780 supermarkets.

Prioritization and precision: How AI and design thinking will transform technology production

Two major developments in technology hardware production dynamics—adoption of advanced innovations such as artificial intelligence (AI) and growing adherence to design thinking—are giving executives in the technology industry opportunities to experiment, optimize and boost agility, particularly as product design grows in importance within the production process.

Solving the Inventory Assortment Problem by Utilizing Product Embedding

Best practice at JD.com for selecting the inventory assortment to distribute at each node in their fulfillment and warehousing network. How to use product embedding through neural networks to solve this problem which involves prediction and optimization.

The Annals of Flannel (NYT)

Told that the cozy shirting fabric could no longer be made in America, one man began a yearlong quest. “We wanted to start an American-made business and build it to scale,The consistent narrative was, ‘You can’t do that, it’s all gone overseas.’ We heard that with the fleece, with premium tees. Set the business part of it aside, The thing I continue to be so struck by in the supply chain is this latent undercurrent of, ‘Give us a shot.’ It’s worth it for that alone — to prove the ability to do it.”

As disruptions accelerate, supply chains learn to measure them

A new wave of KPIs is emerging — such as time-to-recovery — to help executives benchmark their operational resiliency.