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Koubei.comBEIJING: Online payment service Ant Financial Services and the Alibaba Group will invest a total of RMB6 billion in a new joint venture based on Alibaba's Koubei.com platform to develop a Chinese market for local services that can be ordered and paid via a smartphone.

The companies want to make Koubei.com (right) a hub for "online-to-offline" (O2O) e-commerce to "transform and upgrade China's local services sector, offering consumers enhanced dining and shopping experiences," according to Samuel Fan, the company's new CEO.

Alibaba says it will transfer its 'Taodiandian' food ordering and delivery business to Koubei while Ant Financial's merchant services for offline retail, healthcare and vending machines will also be rolled into the joint venture. Ant Financial is poised to launch one of China's first Internet banks.

"Consolidating our resources under Koubei allows us to capture opportunities that navigate both the offline and online markets," Fan added.

The company says consumers will be able to access Koubei.com through Ant Financial's 'Alipay Wallet' app and Alibaba's 'Mobile Taobao' app, enabling them to use mobile devices to find and purchase a variety of on-demand services including car repairs, movie tickets, take-out lunches and even hospital appointments. Koubei will also serve as a platform through which local merchants can adopt mobile payment solutions and conduct mobile marketing campaigns.

According to Alibaba, a recent McKinsey survey of Chinese consumers found that 71 percent are already using O2O services and nearly one-third of those who have not yet used O2O services said they would like to try them within the next six months.

CHICAGO: The Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) says total U.S. logistics costs rose to US$1.45 trillion in 2014, a 3.1 percent increase from the previous year.

According to its 26th annual "State of Logistics" report, underwritten by Penske Logistics, shipper costs were lower than the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) last year, resulting in a slight decline in logistics as a percent of GDP from 8.4 percent to 8.3 percent.

Penske LogisticsThe CSCMP says the U.S. supply chain industry experienced its best year since the Great Recession as the transportation sector grew by 3.6 percent due to stronger shipment volumes rather than higher rates.

The report says the U.S. economy was on "solid ground" in 2014 with consistent new job creation, a small rise in real net income and household net worth, low-to-moderate inflation and lower gas prices.

Noting the truck driver shortage remains a key concern for the logistics sector, the American Trucking Associations estimates the industry needs 35,000 to 40,000 more drivers as the annualized turnover rate remains above 95 percent.

The report says air cargo costs declined 1.2 percent in 2014 as competition from other modes kept rates down. However a record US$968 billion of high value merchandise was moved by air last year - US$443.8 billion in U.S. exports and US$543.3 in imports.

Railroad sector costs grew 6.5 percent as a 4.5 percent increase in traffic volume brought the rail industry close to pre-recession volumes. Intermodal volume increased 5.2 percent, surpassing the 2013 record total as freight forwarder costs rose 5.4 percent overall due to an increase of 7.4 percent in the 3PL sector.

Marc Althen, president of Penske Logistics commented: "While demand for logistics is increasing, the industry faces a talent shortage and needs more logistics engineers, technology professionals, warehouse workers, and truck drivers to meet the needs of current and evolving freight fulfillment models businesses and consumers rely on for their goods and services."

HANGZHOU: A report from Accenture and AliResearch, the Alibaba Group's research arm, says the global cross-border e-commerce market will be worth US$1 trillion by 2020.

According to their joint research, the market is expected to produce compound annual growth of 27.4 percent over the next five years and byBtC e-commerce alibaba chart 2020 more than 900 million people worldwide will account for nearly 30 percent of all global B2C transactions.

China is expected to become the largest cross-border B2C market by 2020 with over 200 million of the country's middle class consumers purchasing US$245 billion worth of goods per annum.

E-commerce is expected to make up 24.2 percent of total Chinese consumption by 2020, up from an estimated 9.9 percent in 2014.

jack maThe country has the world's largest mobile Internet population with 527 million users and nearly half of its total online shopping GMV (gross merchandise volume) was generated by consumers using mobile devices in the first quarter of 2015.

Alibaba Group produced US$394 billion in GMV for the 12 months to March 2015 by hosting 10 million Chinese small businesses that sell on the company's online marketplaces.

Speaking in the U.S. on June 09, founder and executive chairman Jack Ma (left) said he wanted to add another 10 million SMEs to Alibaba by positioning it as a sales channel for U.S. companies that want to reach China's middle class - expected to number 630 million by 2022.

"Alibaba's strategy in the United States is clear," explained Jennifer Kuperman, Alibaba Group vice president of international corporate affairs: "We want to help as many U.S. entrepreneurs, small businesses, and companies of all sizes sell their goods to a growing Chinese consumer class."

Alibaba currently produces two percent of its revenue from outside China. Ma said he wants to increase this to 40 percent and surpass WalMart by selling US$1 trillion of goods through his e-commerce platforms by 2020.

fetchrDUBAI: App-based logistics disruptor Fetchr! has launched its last-mile e-commerce service after attracting US$11 million of initial funding led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA).

The company says its app leverages a gap in the logistics market for customers in emerging markets of the Middle East & North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, India and parts of Asia who have no fixed delivery address.

Fetchr! overcomes this hurdle by delivering packages to a final location using the customer's mobile phone GPS - similar to the way Uber sends a car to an exact location.

Customers who want to send a package snap a photo of the item, select a pickup time and receive an alert when their driver is approaching. Delivery confirmation is also by text message. For the recipient, customers are notified that they have a delivery, choose their delivery time, and the package is brought right to their phone location.

"Consumers use their phones to shop for just about everything," said Fetchr!'s co-founder, Idriss Al Rifai. "With our app, you can now use your phone to ship anything, anywhere. We aim to change the behavior in which people send and receive packages."

Joy Ajlouny, co-founder of Fetchr! added: "Last mile delivery is one of the greatest reason why e-commerce has not reached its full potential in the Middle East. Our mission is to empower delivery through technology, we want shipping to be as delightful as shopping."

The company claims to be faster and cheaper than its competitors by "connecting the dots between customer, package, driver and sender" with 97 percent of packages delivered same day or overnight, and a return process that picks up within 30 minutes.

GS sustainability surveyNEW YORK: A new study suggests 40 percent of Americans are not well informed about how businesses can operate sustainably.

G&S Communications commissioned Harris Poll to conduct its latest 'Sense & Sustainability' survey in April and discovered that 39 percent of Americans question their practical understanding of science.

"Science forms the basis for credible sustainability communications, yet narratives that trigger an emotional connection are what can drive the public to take notice and take action," said Ron Loch, G&S senior vice president, sustainability consulting.

A growing number of Americans are also choosing to remain uninformed about the sustainability efforts of businesses: Some 25 percent admit they don't rely on any source to learn about efforts to promote corporate social and environmental responsibility - an increase from 20 percent in 2014.

In making decisions about which brands to support, 41 percent of Americans identify human rights and wildlife protection (33 percent) as "very influential" social and environmental issues compared to deforestation (25 percent), climate change (24 percent), fairtrade (21 percent) and carbon footprint (19 percent).

Among the industries measured by the study, Americans rank agriculture (47 percent), energy (40 percent) and food and beverage (36 percent) with the best reputations for sustainability.

By comparison, industry sectors that don't rate with the American public are transport - including vehicle manufacturers, airlines, rail, infrastructure and logistics - at 19 percent and manufacturing with 14 percent.

According to the survey, more than two-thirds of Americans say businesses can contribute to their sustainability reputations by conserving natural resources (72 percent) or supporting environmental or social causes (66 percent).

By contrast, only eight percent think having a celebrity spokesperson will improve a corporate reputation.

LONDON: There has been a drop in confidence among UK logistics managers in the past six months to 69.2 from 71.4 at the end of 2014, according to the latest Barclays/Moore Stephens survey, as many operators contend with maintaining margins despite intense price competition.

According to report authors Rob Riddleston, head of Transport and Logistics for Barclays Corporate Banking and Philip Bird, senior director Corporate Finance at Moore Stephens, improving margins is ranked as the most critical factor for logistics operators over the next six months.

Logistics Confidence Index"Our survey results suggest that major retailers and manufacturers are increasingly prone to shop around to meet their price and service expectations, rather than renewing contracts automatically," the two men noted. "Many respondents say that customers' pricing expectations are increasingly demanding and, in some cases, unrealistic. [They] also cite pressure from customers for longer payment terms and the increasing prevalence of late delivery fines."

Some 37 percent of the respondents indicated "somewhat more favorable" business conditions compared to the previous six months – an increase of 25 percent since the first Barclays survey at the beginning of 2012. Slightly more respondents (41 percent) suggested the business climate has stayed the same, while 19 percent thought it had worsened.

Noting 53 percent of respondents said the most important source of new business has been from shippers switching providers, the authors said many of them also cited market over-capacity which, combined with price-cutting by larger multinationals, is driving smaller competitors out of the sector.

Nearly a third of those surveyed said they planned to make an acquisition by the end of the year. Notable examples of mergers in the past six months include Clipper Logistics' acquisition of Servicecare Support Services, Alliance Boots taking over full ownership of UniDrug Distribution, Connect Group's purchase of Tuffnells Parcel Express and CitySprint's acquisition of CYC Logistics.

Responding to a question about the free movement of EU labor, 66 percent of respondents said there should be some restriction to and from the UK - arguing Europe is both a source of competition and a difficult market with few current growth opportunities because of the financial uncertainty in the Eurozone.

ROTTERDAM: Unilever is to partner with leading mass movements Global Citizen and 'Live Earth: Road to Paris' to help create impact at scale across the interlinked issues of sustainable development and climate change.

Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever said: "2015 is a critical moment in time, an opportunity to agree on a universal agenda that tackles poverty and inequality and to all take action to protect the one planet we have. As a business we can deploy our resources, expertise and scale to help our consumers to take action. Today, we are adding our support for the growing movement of citizens and businesses demanding change."

Global Poverty ProjectIn April, UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon acknowledged corporate pledges of US$200 billion in addressing climate change: "Now they have to turn commitments into actions that can blaze a trail for the trillions in low-carbon infrastructure that can help meet the world's needs for cities, energy and agriculture," he declared.

'Live Earth: Road to Paris' is a campaign launched by former U.S. vice-president Al Gore to promote awareness leading up to the UN Climate Change conference in Paris this November.

Global events will be broadcast across all major media platforms in partnership with Unilever with the aim to secure a billion voices urging world leaders to adopt a universal emissions reduction agreement.

Kevin Wall, executive producer and co-founder of Live Earth said: "Unilever has integrated a forward-looking sustainability strategy into its core business in order to truly impact our global climate challenge. We could not be more excited to be on the 'Road to Paris' with partners like Unilever that literally pave the way."

Unilever says its long-term business success requires an investment in the planet and people by addressing environmental and social challenges which include moving to sustainable sourcing, using scale to improve health and wellbeing, moving to zero waste across its factories, and ensuring that human rights are embedded across the supply chain.

Global Citizen is a movement to end extreme poverty by 2030. Hugh Evans, CEO of The Global Poverty Project commented: "[Unilever's] commitment to encouraging people to take action to change the systems and policies that keep people poor is remarkable. Unilever is a true example of a global citizen, and we are honored to be on this journey together."

parcelhome 1MECHELEN, Belgium: Irish high-tech start-up Parcelhome.com has developed a home mailbox that can be used with a smartphone app.

DHL, GLS and DPD are trialing the solution with 100 households in Mechelen, 31 kms. north of Brussels, between May and July.

Parcelhome says with 15-50 percent of packages not delivered on the first attempt, consumer concerns about non-delivery and returns are key reasons for not purchasing online.

Pilot manager and parcelhome.com general manager for Benelux Luc van Bosstraeten explained: "You can use the system to allow package carriers and even local shops to deliver their products at home. The only thing the deliverer needs is the parcelhome.com app."

He said the system can receive multiple packages from different carriers and as soon as a package is placed in the home unit, the customer gets a confirmation. Also included in the app is a scale that calculates returns, franks the package and alerts the carrier for a pick up.

"Customers dislike the limitations of online shopping. They want their products to arrive quickly and safely," commented Luc De Schrijver, CEO of GLS. "People don't want to organise solutions, work around time slots, take half a day off or ask neighbors or friends to wait around. Thanks to parcelhome.com, they no longer have to."

Jan Van Roey, CEO of DHL Parcel Belgium and DPD's Belgian CEO Marc Morioux have also endorsed the concept saying customer convenience is key to the idea.

WASHINGTON, DC: German auto parts supplier Robert Bosch has been fined US58.7 million by the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) after pleading guilty to price fixing and bid rigging spark plugs, oxygen sensors and starter motors sold in the U.S.

According to the indictment, for over a decade from January 2000, Bosch conspired to fix the price of auto parts sold to DaimlerChrysler, Ford and General Motors and to VW between 2009 and 2010.

bosch auto parts"The participants in this conspiracy were not located in just one country or region of the world," said DoJ deputy assistant Attorney General Brent Snyder. "Collusion related to automotive parts was global in nature," he added.

The DoJ said Bosch executives met with other conspirators and agreed bids and price quotations for presentation to car and engine manufacturers and to control the subsequent supply of parts.

Including Bosch, 34 companies and 29 executives have agreed to pay nearly US$2.5 billion in an ongoing investigation into auto industry price fixing and bid rigging.

In 2014, the Bosch Group reported sales of €48.9 billion – an increase of 6.2 percent over the previous year. Earnings before interest and taxes came to nearly €3 billion it said.

"Despite difficult economic conditions, we managed to meet our business targets for 2014," commented Volkmar Denner, chairman of the board of management of Robert Bosch. "Our innovation strategy is paying off. Our business success over the past year is proof of this. In 2014 we further improved our market position and competitiveness in many areas," he added. The company reported an 8.6 percent rise in North America sales last year.

Set up in 1886, some 92 percent of Bosch shares are held by Robert Bosch Stiftung, a Germany charitable foundation.

BEIJING: JD.com, China's e-commerce pioneer with its own logistics network, is to host beauty products retailer Sephora, part of the LVMH Group.

Sephora will be the largest cosmetics store on the JD.com platform, featuring over 1,200 items from more than 70 leading international brands, including Dior, Guerlain, Givenchy, Benefit and Kenzoki.

The move follows last month's decision by international clothing brand UNIQLO to open a store on JD.com's online marketplace and have the company manage its inventory.

jd.comJD.com believes it has the largest fulfillment infrastructure of any e-commerce company in China and provides standard same-day delivery in more than 130 counties and districts, and standard next-day delivery in another 850 counties and districts across China.

Currently the company employs over 72,600 people and operates seven fulfillment centers and 143 warehouses in 43 cities, and over 3,500 delivery and pickup stations in 1,961 counties and districts across China.

Anne Veronique Bruel, president of Sephora Asia said: "We are delighted to be partnering with Chinese e-commerce pioneer JD.com, which is known for its superior customer service, fast nationwide delivery and longstanding reputation as the online source for guaranteed product authenticity...I am confident that together we will be able to provide Chinese consumers with a truly world-class online shopping experience, without the worry of counterfeits."

JD.com reported net revenues of US$5.9 billion for Q1 2015, up 62 percent year on year and a net loss of US$114.6 million. Fulfilled orders rose 76 percent in the quarter to reach 227.2 million and the number of customer accounts rose 90 percent to 105.2 million for the 12 months ending in March.

Richard Liu, company founder, chairman and CEO noted: "Chinese consumers increasingly look to JD.com as their preferred online source for quality authentic products and reliable services, and we will continue to build upon this trust through ever greater product selection and superior customer service."



SINGAPORE: Green Freight Asia (GFA), a logistics industry initiative to reduce C02, says trucks in Asia account for 9.0 percent of all road vehicles and 54 percent of all emissions.

GFA wants all carriers to become accredited to enable shippers to make their sourcing decisions on how 'green' is the provider based on GFA Label rankings.

infineonFor the carriers, the higher the ranking the more attractive they become to shippers because of their ability to cut their costs.

"We believe the implementation of the GFA label will be a catalyst for change. We can not only improve our businesses and environment, but also how the public perceives our industry," said Stephan Schablinski, CEO of Green Freight Asia.

GFA ran a trial last year across 13 countries in Asia to ensure they had the right processes in place before opening it up to a wider market. Over 30 companies applied including Heineken, IKEA, DHL, Hewlett-Packard, Infineon, UPS and Lenovo and 62 percent are now GFA-qualified.

The organization has now opened its certification process to all companies in a bid to improve trade efficiency: "Shippers will be provided with more efficient access to services from their carriers, with smaller footprints on the environment in which their consumables are being transported. They will also be trading in an environment where they know they are being provided services that are of best practice," explained Schablinski.

Companies can apply via the three GFA assessment partners - BSR (Business for Social Responsibility), TÜV SÜD and TÜV Rheinland. The four-level accreditation has an annual fixed cost and requires a renewal every year to maintain compliance.

"We want the GFA Label to become synonymous with companies and organisations that are committed to adopting innovative and sustainable road freight practices, who are also supportive of the green freight programs and initiatives GFA is driving throughout Asia Pacific," added Schablinski.

BSR works with over 250 member companies to develop sustainable business strategies and solutions through consulting, research, and cross-sector collaboration. TÜV SÜD provides safety testing and inspections, engineering support, management system certification and training solutions worldwide. TÜV Rheinland is an independent inspection service founded more than 140 years ago.

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