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Supply Chain News: Alphabet Company Holds Secret Meeting On Logistics Opportunities with a Number of Companies

JD.com, FedEx, Flexe, Deliv and more Said to be In Attendance

Nov. 4, 2019
SCDigest Editorial Staff

It appears lots of companies love logistics beside UPS.

Last week, CNBC (Jennifer Elias) broke news that Google parent Alphabet company held a secret meeting near its headquarters in Silicon valley focused on advanced logistics technologies and opportunities.


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Google parent says "We anticipate the emergence of a marketplace to bid last-mile delivery across a wide range of options."


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In attendance were reported to be Alphabet executives, retailers, new age logistics companies and at least one major parcel carrier.

CNBC reported that the event was called the Alphabet Advanced Logistics Summit. It was hosted by Alphabet's research and development unit, "X," and its recently spun out infrastructure company Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners, which is focused on "re-imagining cities."

The meeting's objective was to explore potential business models and investment opportunities in the ecommerce space, with a focus in logistics and fulfillment, according to three people who attended and photos viewed by CNBC.

In addition to a number of its own company executives, CNBC says the meeting included representatives from FedEx, Chinese etailer JD.com, delivery firm Deliv, and on-demand warehouse space broker Flexe, as well as a former Walmart SVP.

The event come as Alphabet continues to make moves to get itself a more substantial spot in the ecommerce world. For example, Alphabet invested $550 million in JD.com last year and began offering some of its products in March on its marketplace site.

What's more, Sidewalk Labs is much focused on something it calls "technology-enabled infrastructure. That includes a high-profile and controversial new urban smart city on the waterfront of Toronto, for which it released the master plan in June. That plan also included an underground "logistics hub."

CNBC says it says reported that the meeting's discussions included predictive analytics, order fulfillment, package tracking, Bluetooth usage and drone delivery.

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Interestingly, also said to be discussed was how on how Amazon has hampered online retailers' ability to achieve proper value for their businesses.

Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners executives reviewed several points the company was using to consider potential business opportunities, including "Accelerating Fulfillment and Delivery" and "Automated, Advanced Warehousing."

CNBC reported that "Alphabet executives seemed most interested in the analytics side of things, which could help customers predict what products they could buy and sell, attendees said. The company could break through in predictive fulfillment, which is an industry term that describes forecasting demand by predicting buyer and seller behavior. Discussions involved potentially being able to use the vast data from Google's search queries and keywords."

CNBC also said Alphabet presented one slide titled "Key Question No. 3," with slide text saying "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."

The slide cited as examples Fabric and Takeoff, Stord, Flexe and Darkstore.

There was also discussion of drone delivery, not surprising given that Alphabet's Wing division is a major player, recently announcing actual drone deliveries using its technology are underway in Virginia.

In fact, the text for "Key Question No. 1" is reported to have read "As last-mile delivery alternatives proliferate with the emergence of new companies and technologies, we anticipate the emergence of a marketplace to bid last-mile delivery across a wide range of options."

That is an interesting notion. For example, maybe the delivery companies is backed up right now, and there will be a wait to secure a drone. Perhaps a Sidewalk bot would be the best option in that case, or vice-versa.


What is your reaction to the secret logistics meeting - and the bold thoughts from Alphabet? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback section (email) or button below.
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