The Friday Report: November 15th, 2019

Quick wrap up of a few hot topic newsworthy stories in the supply chain logistics industry

Walmart Canada Debuts Blockchain to Track Deliveries

Set to go live at all third-party carriers in Canada by February 1st, 2020, Walmart Canada will begin using blockchain technology.  The innovative technology will be employed to track deliveries, validate transactions and automate payments.  In addition, blockchain technology will be used to automate the reconciliation process between Walmart and 70 third-party trucking companies.

Blockchain technology leverages a shared ledger to integrate and synchronize real time supply chain logistics data, enabling real-time invoicing, payments and settlement integrated with each company’s legacy systems.  Walmart worked with Toronto-based DLT Labs on the blockchain technology effort.  Using blockchain will enable Walmart to utilize huge amounts of granular data to improve deliveries by identifying bottlenecks in the network of third-party suppliers.

Walmart anticipates that blockchain will be useful in integrating all the information involved with transportation and payments and will be used in conjunction with IoT data.  Walmart is hopeful that the use of blockchain technology to encourage collaboration between all parties involved with transportation.

FedEx Leverages Virtual Reality for Employee Training

At a conference in October, FedEx announced its use of virtual reality (VR) for training employees.  One of the major problems FedEx faces involves newly hired employees quitting early in their tenure.  New hires report being “overwhelmed by the volume and physically taxing nature of the work” according to a FedEx Ground representative.

FedEx plans to use virtual reality to introduce trainees to FedEx Ground warehouse operations, helping them to identify safety risks and resolve challenges within a safe, low-risk environment.  The immersive learning technology provided by virtual reality enables work environment simulations.

Partnered with Strivr, a virtual reality training systems company, Walmart will be collecting performance data.  Already employees trained using VR tend to be more engaged and reflect a measurable improvement in retention.  Use of virtual reality helps Walmart trainers to assess the listening and problem-solving skills of trainees, partially to determine if a trainee could become a team leader.

U.S. Sales Up; Big Purchases Down

Although consumers reduced buys of big-ticket household goods and clothing, overall the picture for retail was rosy.  Compared to October 2018, retail sales increased 3.1%, buoyed by motor vehicle purchases and the bump in gasoline prices. 

  • Electronics and appliance store sales dropped 0.4%
  • Building material store sales decreased 0.5%
  • Apparel store sales declined 1.0%
  • Furniture store sales dropped 0.9%

Looking at data in greater detail, when automobiles, gasoline, food services and building materials are excluded, retail sales increased 0.3% last month.  Consumer spending accounts for over two-thirds of the American economy.  Driven by the lowest unemployment rate in almost 50 years, the economy remains strong by most measures, including a 2.9% annualized growth rate in consumer spending in Q3 2019.

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