Truck Tech

A Logistical Close Shave

June 29, 2017

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Is an uptick in freight likely as more companies begin direct-to-consumer shipping? A recent move by the Gillette company suggests that will happen. Photo: UPS
Is an uptick in freight likely as more companies begin direct-to-consumer shipping? A recent move by the Gillette company suggests that will happen. Photo: UPS

A new TV ad caught my eye this week. It’s a commercial for Gillette razors.

Now – before I go any further, let me just say right off that if anyone from Gillette happens to read this, I’d like to note that your razor blades are too damn expensive. They’re great. But I grind my teeth in barely-contained rage every time I have to fork over $20-plus bucks for a refill.

Ok. Now that’s off my chest, let’s get back to their ad. You’ve probably already seen it: Various Cool Dudes are all lathered up getting ready to scrape some facial hair off when they realize their razor blades are dull. Much hilarity then ensues as these Cool Dudes attempt to use their smartphones right there in the bathroom to go to a new Gillette service and order fresh blades – all without leaving the comfort of their bathrooms.

Now, there’s a lot going on in this ad beyond Gillette’s new blade-buying service, if you stop and think about it. In a couple of ways, in fact, it highlights some of the changes that are coming to trucking in the very near future.

First off, there’s the end-run around traditional “brick and mortar” sales. Most of us buy razor blades at the supermarket drug store while we’re in picking up various other items. Of course, razor blades are more of a convenience item than a must-have item. You’ve gotta have food, for example, so you’re probably not going to forget to pick some up while you’re shopping. Razor blades, as I just noted, however, cost a lot. Surely I’m not the only Cool Dude who’s picked up a pack of razor blades, eyeballed the groceries already in the cart, run a few quick calculations through my head, and then put the razor blades back on the shelf. Assuming I don’t forget the damn things outright.

So clearly the Gillette execs have realized that Cool Dudes are far more likely to buy razor blades when they’re at home. So not only is Gillette acknowledging this new trend, they’re also trying to make a move into internet sales before Amazon or other direct-to-consumer razor blade companies or sellers sew the market up.

But this commercial also highlights just how much more important efficient logistics networks are going to become very soon. It is highly unlikely that Gillette is going to be the last high-profile manufacturer to decide that having an in-house, direct-to-the-consumer fulfillment division because it is crucial for the company's future profits and competitiveness. Other companies have already made similar moves, obviously. But Gillette is openly promoting its new direct shipping division in national TV ads, and the trendlines here are clear: A whole lot of companies are likely to start thinking hard about ways to give consumers what they want: quick, in-home deliveries of their products, without including Amazon, dealers, or brick-and-mortar stores.

I could write a book about the implications this trend has to totally upend a long-standing distribution and sales model that’s been around for the past 100 years or so. That’s not my point here – although it does seem pretty obvious to me that some very profound changes in how consumer goods are marketed, purchased, and delivered are coming our way fast.

My point here is that it is reasonable to assume that a whole host of established, well-known companies are about to start looking around for logistics providers that can help them move products to consumers in a fast, cost-effective manner. In fact, it seems logical to think that if you can buy razor blades from any number of online vendors, being able to provide consistently fast and reliable deliveries will be one of the few competitive differentiators available to make those companies standout from the competition. Why do you think Jeff Bezos and Amazon are putting such an emphasis on developing their own, in-house, logistics and delivery network?

But not every company out there is going to have Amazon’s deep pockets – or the desire – to get into the logistics game. They will look to third-party fleets to help them get their products to customers. And they will prefer fleets using modern equipment, technology and (in some cases) green power solutions to do so.

I think it’s safe to say a lot more companies are going to be looking around soon for fleets that can help them move goods in a whole new way. This is going to mean an uptick in freight volumes, and more business, for truck fleets of all sizes nationwide. But it’s also going mean more competition and more fleets hustling to adopt new technology and deploy it quickly and effectively to do so.

Comments

  1. 1. Kurt [ June 30, 2017 @ 10:25AM ]

    Delivering product to a consumer's home will NOT provide an uptick in freight volume, all it will do is change the last mile from the consumer to a package service. The total volume of razor blades sold will not change.

  2. 2. John Bendel [ July 06, 2017 @ 02:20PM ]

    You throw away your razors too soon, Dude. You get lots of shaves from one. Priced per shave, Gillette beats the bristles off the cheapies and store brands (I was neither paid nor coerced to make this statement).

  3. 3. Jack Phelps [ July 06, 2017 @ 05:31PM ]

    HARRY's. Most blades last twice as long at 1/2 the cost or less. I have a heavy beard. The blades last 15 to 18 shaves. The shaves last two days.
    Good luck,
    Jack

 

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Author Bio

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Jack Roberts

Senior Editor

As a licensed commercial driver, HDT senior editor Jack Roberts often reports on ground-breaking technical developments and trends in an industry being transformed by technology. With more than two decades covering trucking, in Truck Tech he offers his insights on everything from the latest equipment, systems and components, to telematics and autonomous vehicle technologies.

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