4:46am 25th August 2020
Every summer and early fall, shippers and carriers around the globe begin to prepare for the peak shopping and shipping seasons. In the past, the approach was simple. Shippers and carriers would rely on freight forecasting capabilities and demand sensing to better manage inventory and increase resource availability. However, the current here and the ongoing pandemic have reshaped how consumers purchase. As a result, shippers need to understand why peak season 2020 is a new chance for expanding e-commerce logistics and maximizing supply chain efficiencies.
Significant uncertainty continues to swell around the economic reopening of countries, states, and businesses. According to Jeff Berman of Logistics Management, “a case can be made that the 2020 peak season is shaping up to be much different than normal. That has been the case, going back to the middle of March, when the COVID-19 pandemic truly took hold, resulting in a shutdown of both the United States and global economies, to varying degrees and timeframes, which was followed by a staggered economic re-opening, which has been largely atypical, with many retail locations remaining closed or being open on a far more limited basis than in what could be considered as normal times. Peak season prospects, in the traditional sense, are in jeopardy.”
Moreover, the advancements in e-commerce demand, comparable to four to six years of traditional growth, notes John Koetsier via Forbes, will spur a retooling of peak shopping logistics management strategies and how to derive more value from limited resources.
The reason why peak shopping season 2020 is a new to opportunity lies in the fact that e-commerce has advanced so significantly. While the insights collected from an Adobe report alludes to 77% year-over-year growth, actual statistics surrounding the upcoming peak shopping season are anything but certain. For example, mobile share of e-commerce grew 10% between January and May, but the prevalence of buy online, pick up in-store grew 195% in May. This dramatic increase was thought to be a temporary shift. However, five months after the supply chain coronavirus crisis began to impact the U.S. economy, the increased demand on e-commerce is almost certain for the upcoming holiday shipping season. In turn, customers that do shop for the holidays will place an even greater strain on logistics. Why? Because as exemplified by all the recent outrage over the toilet paper shortage and out-of-stock buying behaviors, shopping is one of the few things that consumers truly can control within their lives when vast uncertainty exists.
This is based solely on speculation either. In an early June survey of approximately 500 consumers, explains DC Velocity, found that the majority, 51%, expect to begin holiday shopping earlier than normal this year. Moreover, 76% intend to purchase at least 50% of their gifts online, including 62% that will purchase more stocking stuffers and last-minute gifts online. This change will inevitably result in a run on e-commerce resources, including available logistics capacity.
The path toward a successful 2020 peak season is not finite. Retailers can no longer rely on traditional strategies, and planning cycles are completely up in the air. Even ocean sailing schedules remain subject to the turmoil of COVID-19, and even if suppliers have available products, who knows if logistics will be able to handle the demand? It is an immense risk in the modern supply chain, and while consumers are educated on the nuances of moving freight within logistics, they still expect the unmatched customer experience. Therefore, retailers and supply chain partners looking to improve peak shopping season management need to follow a few basic tips, including:
1. Diversify your carrier sourcing strategies. Working with more carriers opens the door to additional rates and opportunities for taking advantage of new modes and consolidation options to source more capacity faster.
2. Improve returns management processes. Likert returns may not usually be an issue, but as consumer demands for e-commerce rise, the incidence of returns will inevitably increase.
3. Implement processes to increase cradle-to-grave transparency and visibility over all shipments. For example, utilizing a multi-carrier transportation management system (TMS) and digital supply chain control tower will go a long way in delivering end-to-end up-to-date visibility.
4. Automate documentation capabilities. Automated freight billing, management of the bills of lading, and centralized document sharing functions, as well as driver upload capabilities, provide a contactless option and an opportunity to digitally transform a traditional area of logistics that remains subject to the tinges of analog processes.
5. Consider working with an expert partner. There is a misconception that planning may arrive too late. However, a quality third-party logistics provider can help an organization successfully build and execute a peak shopping season 2020 strategy, even as others claim too much time has passed.
There is still time to get your supply chain strategy for managing peak season right.
Start by rethinking your use of carriers and supplier partnership.
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