For the second year in a row, there were more online shoppers over Thanksgiving weekend than there were retail store shoppers in America. Translation: Americans are relying more and more on the internet to get the best deals for their holiday purchases. Not only does this affect the way that stores manage their inventory, but it also impacts how third party logistics providers like Overflo manage their shipping, order fulfillment, and other warehousing services. Let's take a look at how online sales transformed in 2016 and what that means for the shipping industry.
2016 was a record-breaking year for online Black Friday sales. Americans spent over $3 billion on the web for Thanksgiving and Black Friday deals, with over 1/3rd of those purchases coming from mobile devices. The National Retail Federation reported that 109 million customers shopped online during this time of year, compared to just 99 million that shopped in stores. 2015 was the first year that the number of online consumers was higher than the number of store-based consumers (103 million and 102 million, respectively). On average, shoppers spent $289.19 over Thanksgiving weekend.
What does online sales have to do with shipping and warehousing? EVERYTHING. A hefty portion of our clients at Overflo run retail stores, and most of them have websites to correspond with their brick and mortar locations. The holiday season is notoriously hectic for warehouses anyway because this is the time of year when most families complete their shopping, but it is even more chaotic when online sales hit record highs. Logistics companies across the nation have to find pickers, truck drivers, supervisors, forklift operators, and more to fulfill the increased demand for labor.
In addition to the general need for more workers comes the need for more efficient shipping procedures. Customers who shop online expect their products in a timely manner. They may not get those items instantly like they would in stores, but they still want them in time to wrap and put under the tree. Warehouses and shipping companies have to correlate with one another to provide the most efficient shipping routes, truck loads, and timeframes possible. Every puzzle piece has to be perfectly placed.
Last year was a bit of a shock for most shippers and warehouses alike because retail stores posted their "doorbuster deals" on the internet. Instead of forcing customers to come to their stores, retailers provided the same deals (or better) on their websites so consumers could complete their holiday shopping from home. Many stores started this on Thanksgiving Day or midnight on Black Friday, which created a huge surge of online sales. It took an enormous amount of last-minute adjustments to keep up with the demands.
Thankfully, we were prepared for the madness this year. Not only did we have last year's data to go by, but we also had more accurate sales predictions to work with in 2016. We did our hiring, training, and scheduling well in advance so we would be ready for the wrath of Thanksgiving weekend. Our productivity levels are better than ever.
To learn more contact Overflo at 1-800-626-0616 to speak with one of our friendly representatives.
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