What You Can Learn from Black Friday 2015

Black Friday 2015 was unlike any other. There was a major shift in the way consumers purchased products during the biggest sales season of the year, and this shift could transform shipping and order management for years to come. What does this mean for retailers, shipping companies, and distribution centers? What will you need to do to adjust your operation strategies next year? Read on to find out what can you learn from this year's Black Friday.

Black Friday No Longer Means In-Store Madness

Perhaps the biggest change of all that happened during Black Friday 2015 was the shift from in-store shopping to online shopping. Big-name retailers like Target and Walmart opened many of their "door buster deals" early, allowing consumers to order products at a discounted rate on Thanksgiving Day long before the sales started in stores. Shoppers were able to avoid the notorious Black Friday crowds and enjoy the same savings from the convenience of their own homes.

For the first time ever, more people shopped online for Black Friday than in stores. The National Retail Federation estimates that 103 million people shopped online this year, compared to 102 million who shopped in stores.

Black Friday shipping demands have always been high, especially with the deals coming out on Cyber Monday. With this year's shift though, the demand for efficient shipping methods and streamlined inventory management is more prominent than ever. Retailers, shippers, distribution centers, and more will need to adjust their operations to meet the demands to come in the future.

Shipping Companies Struggled to Keep up with Demand

Retailers may have been prepared for their surprise online sales, but shipping companies certainly were not. The United Parcel Service (UPS) was particularly affected by the surge. Their on-time shipment rates dropped to 91%, down from 97% in 2014. FedEx also reported a decline in their on-time shipments, though not as severe.

The struggle didn't just impact shippers. Distribution centers in charge of getting products to these companies were also required to hire new employees and increase their efficiency and productivity levels to keep up with the demand. Now that the holiday shopping season is over, it's time to reflect on the changes that happened and make the appropriate changes moving forward.

What You Can Do for Next Year

Whether you're a retailer, a supplier, a shipper, a distribution center, or someone else involved with getting goods to consumers, take note of the changes that occurred for Black Friday 2015. Consumers will be expecting more online sales opportunities in the years to follow, which means larger volumes of small orders, shipped to homes or to stores directly. Adjust your inventory levels and hiring methods to make up for the transformations to come, and you should be able to keep up with the demands next year.

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