New benefits realized in a connected world

We’re all experiencing the effect our hyper-connected society is having in our day-to-day lives.

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We’re all experiencing the effect our hyper-connected society is having in our day-to-day lives. Some choose to throw themselves in full force, some nibble around the edges, while others tell us they’ve made the choice to ignore the phenomenon—but we know they’re still checking Facebook every 15 minutes.

For example, over Thanksgiving I peered out a fourth-floor window of an 18th century apartment in the middle of the Marais district in Paris. The epic view looked down on a food market that’s existed for centuries, framing an image worthy of hanging in the Musée d’Orsay. It was a view I’ll never forget, and a view I never would have experienced if not for VRBO.

The owners told us the apartment was in the family for generations, but they were on the brink of selling about eight years ago. Our hyper-connected world is now making it possible for others to soak in such ambiance (at half the price of any hotel), while giving the family a way to maintain it for future generations—a win-win.

This month in Modern, two stories are examples of how of hyper-connectivity pushes us to improve warehouse/DC operations, offering us potential benefits we’ve never seen before. Starting on page 18, executive editor Bob Trebilcock takes us inside Educational Development Corp.’s (EDC) newly designed DC in Tulsa, Okla., a facility that the CEO now calls “the finest point of our operation.”

As Trebilcock reports, in 2012 EDC made the “counter-intuitive” move to stop selling through Amazon—a channel that accounted for close to 30% of one division’s business. Instead, EDC brought on a sales manager who developed a direct-marketing channel of independent consultants.

While this group of consultants employs many of the standard direct marketing techniques, it has found that one of the biggest sales drivers is the Facebook party, virtual gatherings of customers that it started in 2015. Since the launch of these parties, sales have grown from $35 million to an estimated $112 million.

“These parties triggered a shift from shipping cartons and mixed-cartons of books to its independent sales force to shipping individual orders directly to the guests of the party,” says Trebilcock. “It’s a great example of how a mid-sized company that experienced rapid growth took a conventional process to an entirely new level in a brand new location in record time—and social media was the driver of that change.”

Starting on page 28, contributing editor Gary Forger gives us a terrific explanation of the on-demand warehousing trend, another positive offshoot of hyper-connectivity. The concept is simple: It matches companies with excess warehouse space with companies that have short-term excess inventory—think WeWork, Airbnb and VRBO.

And, pretty much everyone agrees that’s it’s a direct response to Amazon’s network of DCs positioned ever closer to customers for order delivery in two days or less. “It may be new, but on-demand warehousing is worth watching, as it will almost certainly help improve inventory management as our ever-connected, on-demand world gains momentum,” says Forger.

About the Author

Michael Levans, Group Editorial Director
Michael Levans is Group Editorial Director of Peerless Media’s Supply Chain Group of publications and websites including Logistics Management, Supply Chain Management Review, Modern Materials Handling, and Material Handling Product News. He’s a 23-year publishing veteran who started out at the Pittsburgh Press as a business reporter and has spent the last 17 years in the business-to-business press. He’s been covering the logistics and supply chain markets for the past seven years. You can reach him at [email protected]

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