Amazon has set the standard for logistics and modern order fulfillment. In the past decade, the e-commerce giant has introduced revolutionary order processing, fulfillment, and last-mile logistics programs that most retailers have taken to copying.
They are always at the forefront of new technology, with a focal intent of improving the customer buying experience, improving shipping and fulfillment transparency, and ultimately – moving more products through the supply chain. In short, Amazon has very much set the precedence and given others a fairly solid blueprint to follow.
However, based on a recent report published by CNBC, another global giant is embracing deep logistics planning and activation. And that giant is none other than Google.
The report indicates that a ‘secret meeting’ called the Alphabet Advanced Logistics Summit, led by the Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners Group (which is an ancillary business owned by Google) was held in October 2019 that included the feedback of a former Walmart executive, and representatives from JD.com, Flexe, Deliv, and FedEx.
The meeting focused on the use of predictive analytics, Bluetooth, drone delivery, and order fulfillment package tracking. While specific details were not disclosed, the meeting signals Google’s intent to explore the logistics space as the new decade closes in.
According to the CNBC report, “The objective was to explore potential business models and investment opportunities in the e-commerce space with a focus on logistics and fulfillment, according to three people who attended the event and photos viewed by CNBC.”
“We frequently bring together stakeholders from across various industries to exchange ideas and brainstorm ways that technology can deliver innovative solutions in areas like logistics,” a company spokesperson told CNBC in an emailed response.
Google has been a leading e-commerce retailer, offering up several tech solutions including their Google Pixel and Chromebook computers. As new technology becomes available, Google intends to ramp up its logistics and fulfillment process at levels that compete with Alibaba and Amazon. In fact, Alphabet invested nearly $550 million in JD.com, China’s second-largest online shopping service and has slowly begun selling several of their goods as recently as March 2019.
Google’s recent expansion in logistics coincides with the creation of a new entity, Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners. SIP has a primary focus on acquiring, managing, owning, and investing in technology-enabled infrastructure projects – mainly in urban development areas. They are known for working on a popular waterfront urban smart city located in Toronto, that released a master plan of development in June.
The Role of Analytics
This recent meeting also focused on how Amazon and others use analytics as a focal point of improving supply chain visibility and transparency.
The co-founders and co-CEOs of SIP Jonathan Winer and Brian Barlow contributed as moderators and outlined multiple points that they are considering. Some of these included topics such as Automated Advanced Warehousing and Accelerating Fulfillment and Delivery service.
The executives at Alphabet were interested in the analytical side of things, which helps customers predict the products they should buy and sell – according to those attending the meeting and published in the CNBC report.
In fact, based on those attending, Alphabet is looking to breakthrough in the predictive fulfillment industry, which forecasts e-commerce sales based on Google search queries and keywords.
“Expansion in the breadth of a fulfillment network requires either the flexible, low CapEx approach of an on-demand warehousing or a standardized, partially-automated facility using modular robotics,” read one Alphabet presentation slide titled “Key Question No. 3.” That slide gave examples of companies Fabric and Takeoff, Stord, Flexe and Darkstore.
The meeting also discussed how hardware including drone technology can be used to accelerate delivery. Wing is the drone company that was spun from Alphabet X – a division of Alphabet, that beat Amazon by landing an agreement with Walgreens and FedEx to deliver commercial goods to customers.