Editor's Comment

Editorial: An Android for distribution centre robots?

The head of logistics at Zalando has proposed creating new software which would allow robots at distribution centres to communicate with each other. The idea for an Android-like system, mooted as the German retailer opened a new DC to serve customers in the Nordics, would allow interoperability and data sharing between different automation systems.

Such a system might also be of interest to robot pioneer Ocado, which has been the subject of headline and speculation about it signing a deal with M&S and possibly replacing Waitrose. We analyse some of the possibilities of a deal here.

Amazon also announced a foray into the robot space, launching a trial of its Scout robot in the US.

Elsewhere we have the stories of new delivery programmes by Lidl, which has launched a one-hour delivery service across Italy and L’Occitane, which has launched same-day delivery in London. PostNL has found a novel solution to the returns quandary by allowing couriers to accept returns at the door.

On the analysis side, we have a feature on the various ways couriers can overcome the sector’s reputation problem and an opinion piece from Zetes on the role of data in the supply chain.

Also in the headlines is FedEx attempting to allay investor concerns about the impact of Amazon building its own air fleet, claiming that Amazon represented less than 1.3% of its revenue in 2018. FedEx’s share price has fallen almost 25% since a Morgan Stanley analyst made the observation at the beginning of December.

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