Today’s Top Supply Chain and Logistics News From WSJ
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This may be the most important supply chain question retailers face today: moving truckloads of goods on pallets to stores is far different from putting together countless small shipments and parceling them out to buyers in a day or two, and the brick-and-mortar companies have to figure out how to make the logistics work without cutting into profitability. WSJ Logistics Report’s Robbie Whelan writes Wal-Mart is even testing the use of pickup centers, such as all stores, to see if customers can solve the logistics question themselves. The stakes in the e-commerce question for retailers are stark: China’s Alibaba reported a 45% increase in revenue in the first quarter, the WSJ’s Gillian Wong reports from Beijing, reaching $2.8 billion. The company is still a fraction the size of Amazon.com,AMZN-0.19% but Alibaba’s $25 billion IPO suggests investors believe they know which way market is going.
Among U.S. retailers, Wal-mart was No. 1 in 2007 with $378 billion in sales divided, more or less, among 7,262 stores, according to the National Retail Federation. Amazon was way back in 25th place with $14.8 billion in sales among, well, no stores. Fast-forward to 2013, the last full year for which the NRF has full numbers available, and Wal-Mart was up to $474 billion in worldwide sales with 4,779 stores. Amazon’s global revenue soared to $77.6 billion, pushed the company to No. 9 on the list while adding no stores. It’s not as if Amazon lacks space. The company has about 145 distribution centers around the world and is known as a delivery behemoth. Get this, however: Wal-Mart’s online sales actually grew faster than Amazon’s sales last year, 30% for the big, lumbering store operator and 20% for nimble Amazon. Wal-Mart still only had $12 billion in e-commerce sales, but it gives the logistics planners something to work with