Here’s what you need to know today.

1. Sequoia raised $4 billion across four funds, including $2 billion for its growth fund

Sequoia Capital has raised $4 billion in funding for a variety of funds, according to SEC filings released yesterday. That includes $2 billion for its second growth fund, the size of which had previously not been announced.

In addition to its growth fund, a filing for Sequoia’s China Growth Fund IV, which was launched early last year, showed that the firm had raised $900 million to invest in startups in that market.

Read the rest of the story here.


2. Singapore O2O retailer Naiise to enter Malaysia

Today, the startup announced its first international expansion into Malaysia, including the offline stores and a dedicated ecommerce platform for the country.

The strategy in Malaysia will follow that of Singapore, which has six retail stores across the city. Naiise will focus on Kuala Lumpur and is targetting a debut facility of 4,000 square feet by Q3.

The launch will start with 50 brands (30 per cent of which are Malaysian) and by the end of 2017 the company hopes to have 300 brands and half of them local. An important part of the Naiise mission is to provide local designers with an international consumer base.

Read the rest of the story here.


3. Chinese billionaires clash over Alibaba’s parcel deliveries

Billionaire Wang Wei’s SF Holding Co. on Friday accused Alibaba Group ’s delivery affiliate in an exchange filing of removing the company as a shipping option and blocking access to vital data. The affiliate backed by Ma, known as Cainiao, fired back by saying it was SF that first walled off information it needed to get parcels to customers.

It’s unclear what originally triggered their spat, which threatens a symbiotic relationship that underpinned SF’s listing this year and helped Wang accumulate a fortune of some $21.5 billion. Alibaba’s part-owned Cainiao depends on services such as as SF Express, the largest of a handful of domestic delivery businesses  to get parcels to customers’ doorsteps.

Their falling out was serious enough that the country’s postal bureau, which also regulates the industry, urged both parties to resolve their differences as soon as possible to avoid throwing the market into disarray.

Read the rest of the story here.

Here’s what you should know.

1. Facebook beats expectations across the board with Q4 results

What? Mobile ads drove a 50% jump in revenue that far outpaced the company’s spending, with the company inching closer to gaining an unprecedented audience of two billion monthly users.

Shares of Facebook, which have risen about 14% since the start of the year, were up about 1.5% in after hours trading on Wednesday. Mobile continued to play a key role in revenue growth during the last three months of 2016, with mobile ads accounting for 84% of total ad revenue during the quarter.

Read the rest of the story here.


2. Indonesia’s financial ecommerce provider Cermati raises seven digit funding

What is Cermati? Cermati’s online offering helps customers research and get financial products, such as credit cards, auto loans, personal loans and mortgages that suit their needs.

Where did the funding come from? The seven figure digit funding came from Orange Growth Capital (OGC), a fintech VC firm.

What will the funding be used for? Team expansion, product development and technical enhancements.

Read the rest of the story here.


3. Amazon will build its own $1.5 billion air cargo hub

The company just revealed that it’s investing $1.5 billion in a new air cargo hub, which will occupy a spot that crosses the Cincinnati and Kentucky border, and eventually result in around 2,000 total new jobs. The planes are designed to help Amazon handle its increasing transportation needs, which are growing as its share of global retail business increases.

Read the rest of the story here.


Community Chatter: Industry experts are talking about Gita, a parcel carrying robot

Read about Piaggo’s Gita here.

eIQ is also on twitter, join in on the conversation with us here

Popular German produced Smart Cars will become delivery boxes for DHL package operations in Germany this year in the largest test of the mail and auto industry working together to leverage connected cars, reports Bloomberg.

Owners of Daimler AG’s Smart models can arrange for DHL to deliver parcels to the trunks of their parked cars starting in September in the parent company’s hometown of Stuttgart, with the service eventually rolled out to a total of seven cities in the following months, including Cologne and Berlin.

The program is called “Smart Ready to Drop” will be Germany’s biggest trial yet of in-car delivery for ordinary vehicle owners, with several hundred customers targeted in each city. This service is designed to ease logistics in everyday urban life.

Missed deliveries don’t just annoy shoppers, they’re a profit-sapping cost burden to package handlers such as Deutsche Post, Europe’s biggest mail operator.

Similar efforts to use cars as delivery sites include a joint test last year by DHL, online retailer Inc. and Volkswagen AG’s Audi luxury-car division and a Volvo Car Group project in Sweden. Amazon is now focusing on drone delivery of its products.

How Smart Ready to Drop works

Smart Ready to Drop will be available on models equipped with so-called connectivity box detectors that will become standard equipment as of September. The customer will use a mobile application to agree on delivery details. A  code will allow the DHL courier to open the vehicle during a specific timeframe to place the goods in the back of the car, and to pick up returned items.

DHL is forecasting 5-7% average annual growth in parcel volume through 2020, with e-commerce a key demand driver.

The program’s replication potential is relatively high. There is even a chance that this model could work in Southeast Asia once the region has caught up with the technology advancement, popular Asian car brands such as Toyota could team up with local postal companies to pilot a similar model in the future.

A version of this appeared in Bloomberg on July 25. Read the full version here

Amazon has launched ‘Amazon Flex’, an Uber like platform for parcel delivery, reports The Financial Times.

The company is signing up amateur drivers to make deliveries in their spare time, following a trend of ‘gig economy’ of informal employment made popular by Uber’s successful business model. Amazon began testing this model in Seattle last year.

The ecommerce group will offer British car owners cash to deliver parcels between a local distribution center and customer homes.

Amazon expects UK delivers to begin in Birmingham, where it has been advertising on online jobs websites such as Craigslist since June.

It will initially use freelance drivers to make same-day deliveries under its ‘Prime Now’ service, which offers a range of 15,000 products for delivery within one hour.

How would the platform work?

A smartphone app will allow the company’s part-time drivers to choose when and where they want to work, as well as guide them to customers’ homes and allowing the customers themselves to track their orders. Although the company is pitching this idea as ‘an opportunity to be your own boss’, it is actually taking itself a step closer to the legally contested territory of ‘sharing economy’ employment arrangements.

Amazon estimates that ‘Flex’ drivers will be paid between $17-$19 an hour, including tips (13-15 pounds). However, the hourly rate is not guaranteed and could be lower if the driver takes more time than Amazon predicted to deliver the parcels. Amazon cited research from the Centre for Economics and Business Research, which found that 68% of people who did not have a job would be inclined to start working if they had flexible hours.

Since 2012, Amazon has set up delivery stations near clusters of customers and hired small companies to deliver on its behalf. The move has left traditional courier companies, such as Royal Mail to deliver to Amazon customers in remote locations, while depriving them of some of their more profitable work. This has also placed Amazon into a competitive market. It is still a wild west, particularly for home delivery, where a lot of operators are losing money.

A version of this appeared in The Financial Times on July 20. Read the full version here.

new USPS last mile delivery options

USPS Delivery. Source: Wall Street Journal

In the US, more parcel carriers are increasingly using United States Postal Services (USPS) for last mile delivery but sorting system technology serves as an obstacle reports Total Retail.

The parcel carriers utilize their transportation networks to deliver packages close to its final destinations — often to a local post office — and the USPS takes it from there to recipients’ homes or businesses.

It’s cheaper than FedEx and UPS ground services because USPS delivery men can deliver regular mail in addition to packages from retailers.

The last-mile delivery services unify the USPS, UPS and FedEx delivery tracking systems so customers only have to manage one tracking number.

Barriers to using USPS unified tracking system

This omnichannel approach to last mile delivery has its challenges such as using this technology requires a speedy ability to sort and manage a wide range of products and sizes of packages to the ZIP code. Conventional sorting systems are too large and costly to meet requirements.

For example, the facility for one big company occupies over 4 million square feet with more than 17,000 feet of conveyor. This is not a suitable set up for the delivery of low weight products. Consequently, retailers that wish to use USPS for last mile delivery of their low weight products actually need a low weight parcel sorting system to meet their tailored needs.

The parcel sorting system relies on accurate barcode scanning. The wide variation of products, in terms of size and packaging presents a challenge as it requires a vision system to maintain high read rates at constantly shifting focal lengths.

Today’s sorting systems usually rely on line-scan vision cameras that has a single row of pixel sensors that capture image frame as the product moves past the camera. The image frames are fed to a software which makes a complete image.

Although using USPS is cost effective for delivery, it poses challenges for the logistics process of effectively scanning and sourcing products of different types and sizes. Supply chain models across the world, especially in Asia, see a demand for even the most basic technology but the last mile learnings in the US can be applied to Southeast Asia.

A version of this article appeared in Total Retail on July 6. Read the full version here.