Today’s Top Supply Chain and Logistics News From WSJ


Story image for todays news on economy from Wall Street Journal



An icon of the sharing economy is stumbling in the delivery market. The WSJ’s Douglas McMillan writes that Uber Technologies Inc. wants to build what its chief executive once called “an urban logistics fabric” alongside the sprawling business the company has built transporting millions of people around some 300 cities. There’s a lot at stake in those plans for countless courier companies and perhaps concerns, depending on Uber’s ambitions, for FedEx Corp. and United Parcel Service Inc. It may be a $50 billion question for Uber, which is in talks about a new round of funding at that level. But Uber’s stabs at same-day delivery so far are in niche business—food delivery and same-day retail sales that get no real interest from the big package companies. Instead, Uber’s faces competition from fellow upstarts like Instacart Inc. and Deliv Inc., and e-commerce giants like Inc. that know something about disruption.

It looks like United Parcel Service Inc. is not entirely on board with the free-shipping game for holiday retail sales. The WSJ’s Laura Stevens reports the parcel giant is telling dozens of retailers it intends to end big discounts on oversize packages this holiday season and, in the case of some retailers, year round. UPS isn’t publicly confirming the decision, but retailers are getting the word and it fits it with the basic economic realities of parcel delivery. The growing volume of oversize shipments—think grills and patio furniture—is creating a logjam in the UPS network, slowing deliveries and productivity. There may be some sticker shock for consumers, but it will also may provide a dose of economic reality to retailers about the underlying costs of deliveries.

Lawmakers in Washington will try again to get a trade bill through Congress amid a scramble by the Obama administration to get Democrats behind a major priority for the administration and the business world. The WSJ’s Siobhan Hughes and Kristina Peterson write that President Barack Obama has been trying to convince Democrats who banded together to short-circuit the bill last week to reverse course. A vote could come as early as today, but lawmakers also set up the process to allow for more time. Republican leaders are mostly standing back, saying it’s up to Obama to bring his party along. Still, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) doesn’t sound like he and a GOP leadership that broadly supports the trade bill simply will let it slip away. “We have made no decisions yet, but there are options,” McCarthy said Monday.

Ports may be some of the most prized local logistics infrastructure on maps but a new report says American policymakers are looking at them the wrong way. WSJ Logistics Report’s Erica E. Phillips writes that a Brookings Institution analysis showed that 85% of imports and exports moving through just 25 port complexes and face traffic-clogged roads and other delays in connecting to inland points. But money for infrastructure is allocated with what one of the study’s authors called a “peanut butter approach”—spreading funds around more or less evenly. Putting the money where it would do the most good is largely up to elected officials, of course, and there is no report yet on how to get officials to prize a port 1,000 miles away over their own logistics infrastructure.




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