Instacart Updates, AV Trucking in Trouble
6/29: UPS strike, where's best to bike
It might not be as momentous as yesterday’s DoorDash news, but Instacart is making some big moves of its own. Meanwhile we’re seeing some interesting developments on the autonomous vehicle side of things, plus yet more evidence that the best delivery vehicle of all might still be the humble bicycle.
Instacart Rewards Its Shoppers & Merchants
Zoox Goes Pedal to the Metal, TuSimple in Reverse
Chart Time | Best Cities for Biking
UPS Strike Imminent
3PD | Instacart’s Got Something for Merchants & Shoppers
Grocery delivery giant Instacart is rolling out new features for the grocery stores it works with, as its order management system — FoodStorm — now supports made to order and custom items. This means more options for grocers to push prepared foods, customized cakes, coffee drinks, fresh sandwiches, etc: items that drive way more profit than a bunch of bananas. For its workforce, Instacart is enhancing Cart Star, its loyalty program. The more consistently one works for Instacart, the deeper the rewards it’ll offer on gas, oil changes, and child care.
Context: Instacart’s enhanced loyalty is certainly good news for the partners powering it: Upside, CarAdvise and Care.com. For workers, it’ll be a nice perk if they qualify. The bigger story is that Instacart seems to be doubling down on having its workers log long hours for the platform, whereas yesterday’s DoorDash news was all about making it easy for less committed contractors to dabble in delivery for an hour or two.
AUTONOMY | Which Way For AVs?
In the land of autonomous vehicles, it seems we’ve hit a fork in the road. Amazon-backed Zoox just began testing its purpose-built (and wild looking) robotaxis in Las Vegas. Things are looking less rosy for TuSimple, which looks to be selling off its Level 4 autonomous trucking business, at least in the U.S.
Context: TuSimple’s struggles aren’t super surprising, as the company is the rare breed looking to disrupt middle-mile deliveries. After its deal with Navistar fell through late last year, followed by a series of layoffs, it seemed gravity was catching up with their outsized ambition. With Amazon’s deep pockets to back them, Zoox may be here for the long haul. Even though they’re not yet making a delivery play, Motional has shown how easy it is to add that to your robotaxi capabilities.
CHART TIME | Minneapolis - Bikers’ Paradise?
With its long, icy winters, you might not think of Minneapolis as the greatest city in the country for bicyclists. And yet, according to just released data from People For Bikes, the Twin Cities tops the charts, as local officials have done an impressive job laying down new infrastructure and building complete streets. Other top large cities include SF, Seattle, and Philly; meanwhile California and Iowa are overall top states. Shrewd folks in the industry will note that these locales are ideal places to push more deliveries out of cars and trucks and onto bikes and scooters: not only will operating costs be lower, you might actually end up beating traffic!
LABOR | Brown Takes A Break
As of this morning, a strike at UPS looks all but inevitable, as the Teamsters have walked away from the negotiating table with the shipping giant. While talks started relatively amicably as UPS agreed to items like air conditioning in vehicles, the two parties are now at loggerheads over whether or not drivers receive pay raises. UPS recorded a record profit last year, the Teamsters make the case its only fair that workers get a slice of that; UPS has countered with a cost-neutral contract.
Context: If the strike proceeds, it would be the largest single-employer strike in American history. Concurrently, we’re seeing labor action affect everyone from Amazon DSPs to Starbucks, as overstretched workers demand a piece of record corporate profits.
A Few Good Links
Shopify launches “Collabs Network” to put influencers in touch with ecommerce brands. Trader Joe’s building its largest logistics facility to date, in SoCal. Chick-fil-A boosts rewards program. Truckers ask Feds for bathrooms. More trouble for Yellow: Congress reports loan was a mistake. Grubhub hosts Hot Ones pop-up.
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