Very interesting essay! Although I am not in favor of isolationist policies, I think they can be seen as (forced) opportunities to restore some manufacturing competitiveness in the US . And because plant automation is a more transferable asset than qualified workforce, introducing AI and robots in plants could be thought as a way to bring knowledge and know-how back in the US. If Foxconn were to relocalize their manufacturing bases in the US, the losses that would be generated by imposing tarif on imported raw material in the US could be alleviated by the gain on shipping locally-produced finished goods.
 Willy Shih, Restoring American competitiveness, 2009, HBR
I liked the article a lot. I wasn’t aware of Walmart’s investments in such technologies. I see why going the extra mile might be a problem for Walmart vs Amazon. Amazon deliver products in both urban (dense) and rural (less dense) areas. Hence, deliveries in rural areas, which are more expensive (longer distances and lower density), are probably “subsidized” by deliveries in denser areas like big cities. As a result, Walmart faces a problem as they mostly target rural areas. In addition, customers in rural areas probably care just as much as those of urban areas about delivery time.
Walmart has a competitive advantage over Amazon since they can deliver products to their customers from both their warehouses and retail stores. This means that they probably benefit from a better geographical coverage of rural areas than Amazon. Going from there, Walmart could map out the areas for which it makes more sense to serve from their warehouses and areas for which it makes more sense to serve from their retail stores. For these latter, they could incentivize their customers who shop in their physical stores to deliver groceries to their “neighbors” who ordered online (ask the customer at the cash register where they live, check whether there is a pending delivery in their area, and offer to them to take on the delivery for a discount).
Well researched article Anusha! On the self-driving truck side, could UPS approach companies that are not currently directly part of the delivery supply chain. Indeed, dealing with Uber or Amazon, who both have direct incentives in capturing value down (Amazon) or up (Uber) the delivery chain, might be trickier than partnering with a Google or a Tesla, who both have less to no role in the delivering industry. Doing so, they might be able to better secure their current role in the supply chain.
As far as UPS’s drivers are concerned, I wonder if the company could start investing in trainings to prepare them for future roles. I’m sure that the introduction of drones and driverless cars in UPS’s supply chain will require a new type of qualified workforce. To a certain extent, current drivers, if trained in advance, could help fill that gap.
Very interesting article June! I would be interested to find out 1. what is the proportion of Tabasco consumers that know about the fact that all seeds are grown on Avery island and 2. how does this fact affect Tabasco’s brand equity. I personally love Tabasco and had no idea that all of it came from Avery island. Now that I know, I don’t think I would have a problem with the company starting to grow their peppers elsewhere. Hence, I think diversification of land could be an excellent solution. The company could invest in lands that are close to their distribution centers to reduce transportation costs. In addition, I think that technology can only mitigate the impact of climate change to a certain extent. If see level rises to the level experts predict it will, it will probably not be economically viable to grow peppers on the Avery island in 40 years from now.
Very interesting article Katie! In the idea of building an argumentation against imposing tariff on solar panels import, would it make sense to estimate the number of solar electricity providers (and the people they employ) that would be forced to file for bankruptcy if such tariffs would be implemented. It has already been a tumultuous year for the residential solar industry and three of the largest installers (NRG Home Solar, Sungevity, and Direct Energy) have gone bankrupt or exited the residential space. Imposing a tariff would further strain this industry and might drive players such as SunPower or Vivint Solar out of business. If his goal is to maximize US’s overall employment rate, I think Trump should consider the cascading effect on taking such a decision.