The other day, while driving through a suburban neighborhood, I saw an abandoned shopping cart on the street. It stood out for a couple of reasons. First, there weren’t any nearby stores, from which this one could have strayed. Second, it was creating a little traffic jam on a normally quiet street. The incident reminded me of the holiday shopping season’s pitfalls: Crowds in person and abandoned shopping carts online.
CNN reports that last Friday alone, American shoppers spent $5 billion online, 16.9 percent more than Black Friday 2016. Meanwhile, in-person Black Friday store visits were down less than 1 percent, according to ShopperTrak.
“A meager dip is good news for traditional retailers,” Jackie Wattles writes for CNN. “As online-savvy businesses continue to gobble up more and more of the market share, companies like Macy’s, JCPenney, Gap and Sears have suffered.”
Retailers might hire a few more workers during the holiday season, but hiring for warehouses and distribution centers has become frenzied, reports the Wall Street Journal. The paper highlighted one fulfillment center outside Columbus, Ohio, that boosts its labor force from 200 to 2,500 during its seasonal peak.
Run by DHL Supply Chain, the warehouse handles most of the online orders for Toys ‘R’ Us. It goes from operating five days a week to seven, and — at its peak — handles 175,000 units a day. It averages 25,000 units a day throughout the rest of the year.
Fred Takavitz is senior vice president of business development for DHL Supply Chain. He notes four major trends in e-commerce fulfillment: compressed order time, greater use of automation, continued evolution of omnichannel fulfillment solutions and competition for seasonal associates.
“Customers want to be able to order something from anywhere and get it in a few days,” Takavitz says. That means multiple channels of demand “coming out of the same building, out of the same inventory.”
Online commerce has fundamentally changed the way people shop, and retailers that understand and embrace those changes are the ones that have a better chance at survival now and into the future. Think about how omnichannel is becoming fundamental to business. Omnichannel is an approach to sales and service that provides the customer with a seamless, integrated shopping experience, whether shopping from a desktop or mobile device, by telephone or in a brick-and-mortar store.
APICS can help you and your company as you address omnichannel and other challenges. Consider earning your APICS Certified in Logistics, Transportation and Distribution (CLTD). This credential demonstrates your expertise in this growing field, sets you apart from your peers and ensures you know the latest trends in global supply chain logistics. Visit apics.org/cltd to learn more and get started.