2019 Holiday Retail Rush: Meeting Customers Demand and Delivering Seamless Services
By: Steve Moore, Vice President, Operations, Transplace
In the last several years, there has been a significant shift in consumer behavior, creating extensive growth in e-commerce and direct-to-consumer (DTC) shipping (sometimes called the “Amazon Effect”). This has led to an increased expectation for products to be delivered within one to two days, which can make the holidays a stressful time for supply chain professionals.
So, in order to understand the current retail landscape and prepare your operations for what’s in store during the coming weeks, outlined below is a list of tips for an effective holiday season you’ll want to check twice.
2019 Projected Retail Holiday Spending
This year is unique as the job market is strong and capacity is relatively soft, meaning consumers will have money to spend and trucks will be available during the peak holiday season. This also means that there is a good possibility of more products being delivered compared to previous years. The National Retail Federation (NRF) is expecting holiday retail sales in November and December – excluding automobiles, gasoline and restaurants – to increase between 3.8% and 4.2% from 2018 to a total of between $727.9 billion and $730.7 billion.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday: A Retail Rush
For most retailers, their distribution centers (DCs) are stocked with products well in advance of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but even with a soft market, many parcel shippers can still grab a significant amount of capacity away from others during the end of the year holiday rush.
Another factor that may impact capacity are some big-box retailers offering free one-day delivery because “there are six fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year.”  It’s important for your supply chain to not react to the hype, or try to keep up with the one-day delivery rush. It’s important to understand how to position your inventory for success and keep the focus on your supply chain and business objectives.
How Can You Prepare Your Operations for the End of the Year?
With these factors – as well as others – affecting shippers during the holiday shipping season, it’s important to actively prepare in order to mitigate any potential disruptions. Some of the ways to avoid supply chain mishaps this time of year include:
- Enhancing your ability to synchronize demand data with capacity. It’s important to use forecasting and cross-functional planning meetings across all departments of your team to ensure that your organization doesn’t have any unknown spikes in volume or rushes to replenish products.
- Boosting collaboration throughout your supply chain. Effective communication and a productive flow of information throughout an organization can reduce waste. From sales to your supply chain and transportations teams, sharing organization data is critical for success, especially during the peak holiday season.
- Leveraging your transportation management provider. There is a significant benefit in bringing your transportation management provider deeper into the fold during the peak holiday season. This shouldn’t cost your business more money, and they may be able to identify opportunities to streamline your operations and provide an enhanced level of execution.
- Avoiding distractions and focus on business goals during the holiday seasonal challenges. There is plenty of noise during the peak holiday season surrounding shipping and the challenges that come along with it. However, even with the hype, it’s crucial for an organization to stay focused on their core business and rely on the help of transportation partners to avoid logistic challenges.
What are you doing to prepare your supply chain for the end-of-year retail rush?