Supply Chain by the Numbers

- Nov. 15, 2018 -

  Supply Chain by the Numbers for Week of November 15, 2018

Chinese Singles Day Sees Online Sales Soar Again; Q2 Cargo Thefts Down a Bit but Still Big; RFID Implant Craze Hits the UK; US Freights Rise but May Be Stabilizing




That was the amount of merchandise sold through the Alibaba ecommerce platform on last weekend’s Singles Day shopping event in China, a rather odd holiday of sorts that started as an obscure "anti-Valentine's" celebration for single people in China back in the 1990s. That figure represents a healthy 27% year-on-year rise over 2017’s total of $25.3 billion. Alibaba rival also saw its sales rise 27%, to about $23 billion, though it achieved that number over a longer period of measurement. By comparison, the US saw sales on so-called Cyber Monday of just $6.59 billion in 2017. That said, the Alibaba and numbers are based on the metric of "gross merchandise value," which Bloomberg argues is an unreliable measure that doesn’t seem to correlate with revenue. The problem is that there isn’t a standardized way of measuring GMV, allowing one retailer to include orders that were never actually delivered.



That is how many employees of UK firm BioTeq have already been implanted with RFID chips, which can be used to do everyday tasks such as opening secured doors, accessing the copy machine, paying for drinks or snacks, and more. This is very similar to the implant program we’ve reported on a few times managed by Swedish firm Biohax. In fact, Biohax told the Sunday Telegraph newspaper that it is in discussions with several British legal and financial firms about fitting their employees with microchips, including one major company with hundreds of thousands of employees. BioTeq in turn says has also implanted them in employees of a bank testing the technology, and has shipped them to Spain, France, Germany, Japan and China. Last year Wisconsin-based firm Three Square Market partnered with Biohax and became the first company in the US to microchip its employees, on a voluntary basis. A UK labor group said on the news that "We know workers are already concerned that some employers are using tech to control and micromanage, whittling away their staff’s right to privacy. Microchipping would give bosses even more power and control over their workers."



That was the number of cargo theft incidents in the US and Canada in Q2, according to the latest analysis from Sensitech. That was down slightly from the total in 2017. However, the average cargo value per theft event was a substantial $186,779 for a total of $29.3 million in losses. The thefts involved 342 stolen vehicles, including 120 semi-tractors and 155 semi-trailers. The most targeted goods: food, building supplies, household goods such as appliances, and electronics, including computers and televisions. There are actually there are two common types of cargo theft, Transport Topics reports. A "straight" theft is one in which the cargo is stolen from the location where it sits, in a crime of opportunity - the thief is looking for whatever can be stolen easily and sold quickly. Crimes such as these usually occur at a truck stop, a drop lot or other area where cargo is left unattended. The other category is "strategic" cargo theft. This method continues to evolve rapidly and is one in which the perpetrator is using deception or unconventional methods to trick the shipper, broker or carrier into giving up the load.



That was the year-over-year rise in October for the Cass Linehaul Index, which measures US per mile truckload rates before fuel surcharges and other accessorials. That was down just a bit from the 9.8% rise in rates in September, but still a sizable increase by any measure. It also the first time the index has been below a 9% increase since April of this year. And it marks the 13th consecutive month the index has risen at least 5% year over year. However, spot-market trucking rates reached the lowest point of the year in recent weeks, a strong signal rates may even be headed a bit lower. And the analysts at FTR Associates recently said that the firm's Trucking Conditions Index for September fell to the lowest level in a year, at 4.58, headed down towards the level of 0 that indicates a balanced market. FTR said this marks the first time the TCI measure has fallen to single digits since December 2017, and is "a reflection of some stabilization in freight rates and demand."