Black Friday Cyber Monday 2020

Let the Bargains Begin: Black Friday & Cyber Monday 2019

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become infamous discount-filled holidays. Many families enjoy the tradition of camping outside retail locations and being some of the first to shop at midnight. Those who feel overwhelmed by this often chaotic process can enjoy many of the same sales on Cyber Monday, which starts the Monday after Black Friday.

The term “Cyber Monday” was coined in 2005 by the National Retail Foundation (NRF). They had noticed a recurring spike in online traffic and sales on the Monday following Thanksgiving. The NRF believed the substantial increase in revenue was a result of consumers making purchases at work because of stronger internet connection and privacy from kids wanting a sneak peek at their gifts.

As online shopping continues to gain traction, many big-name retailers are now offering their Cyber Monday discounts early to try to get an upper hand against the competition. Early offers are attractive to consumers because they are able to get good deals on in-demand products. Not to mention they can avoid the chaos of shopping in stores on Black Friday!

Below are a few retailers starting Cyber Monday early:

  •    •    Target – Hauls on Target’s e-commerce website are even more appealing to consumers with their recently added free two-day shipping offer running until December 21. Their “HoliDeals” program will feature thousands of deals on electronics, décor, toys and more throughout the holiday season. To kick off the holidays, Target is having a Black Friday preview sale on November 8 and 9 that will include 4x the number of discounts last year had. The company is hoping to make it easier for consumers to save by having their markdowns available for an extended period of time.
  •    •    Walmart – Walmart start November off strong by unveiling a series of amazing deals on electronic devices including Apple MacBook Airs, HP 14 Laptops, Apple AirPods, Smart TVs and more. These deals are congregated on their “Deal Drop” page that is steadily expanding as the holidays approach. Walmart is offering free next-day delivery on eligible orders that are worth $35 and over. By offering more promotions than ever and hosting in-store visits from Santa, Walmart hopes to serve as a one-stop-shop for all holiday gift needs and fun.
  •    •    Amazon – Amazon has dubbed its page of various discounts for the holidays as “Happy HoliDeals.” This section of their website is currently live and offering up to 70% off on products including Dyson vacuums, Alexa gadgets, Bose headphones, bedding essentials and more. Amazon is offering deals that last through the shopping season along with Lightning Deals and Deals of the Day. These subcategories of discounts only last for a certain amount of time in hopes of leading consumers to make a purchase and avoid missing out.

What to Expect from Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Black Friday is still the busiest shopping day for retail stores, but it should be noted that foot traffic is declining. In 2018, the number of people visiting stores decreased by 9% in comparison to the previous year. Each holiday shopper spent around $1,007.24 in 2019 on seasonal products including gifts, food, decorations and greeting cards. They also shop for non-holiday products to take advantage of seasonal deals and promotions. Consumers spent a grand total of $717.50 billion in 2018 (up 4.3% from 2017).

It’s estimated that Thanksgiving, Cyber Monday and the days in between capture 20% of all holiday online shopping! Cyber Monday drew in $7.9 billion worth of online sales (up 19.7% from 2017). The NRF cited a mixture of self-spending and gifting along with high confidence among shoppers for this upward trend.

Staying Ahead of the Curve

Have Ample Inventory on Hand

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday closing in, it’s important to take a step back and identify what your supply chain needs to have a successful holiday shopping season. Retailers need ample stock of their inventory that can move throughout their supply chain and between other locations based on sales volume easily. Preparing for the season can only take companies so far – a portion of their profit is dependent on the ability to adapt to consumers’ responses as promotions begin to roll out.

Know the Customer

The average holiday shopper’s knowledge of substitute products and standards has increased since the dawn of the internet. Retailers are responsible for knowing what shoppers want instead of simply telling them what they need – meaning power is given back to the consumer. Shoppers expect the same discounts offered in-store to be available online so they can shop within the comfort of their own home. Stores who don’t make this a reality or offer exclusive in-store promotions run the risk of losing their share of online holiday shoppers to competitors.

Offer a Shipping Incentive

Big-name retailers who have successfully navigated Black Friday and Cyber Monday have one thing in common: Shipping incentives. Consumer demand has been steadily increasing for some time now. Shoppers are more concrete in what they want and are looking to have the product in their hands as soon as possible. Retailers have adjusted to this by offering a shipping incentive like 24/7 free shipping, free shipping after spending a certain amount of money or free two-day shipping. Consumers are already more inclined to shop online and free shipping that transports their products is another convincing factor.

The 2019 Holiday Shopping Season

A successful Black Friday and Cyber Monday both rely on balance. Retailers must have sufficient inventory for online and in-store sales to provide holiday shoppers with the best experience possible. They need to be aware of what consumers like to see in person before buying and what they prefer to order online. Inventory has to be adjusted to meet these preferences. Shipping incentives getting products to the consumer quickly and for free are often the tipping point in the purchase decision.

Ready or not, holiday shopping is right around the corner! How are you preparing your supply chain?

Parcel Shipping Best Practices for Companies Preparing for the 2019 Holiday Shopping Season - Kuebix TMS

Parcel Shipping Best Practices for Companies Preparing for the 2019 Holiday Shopping Season

Many companies are currently gearing up for the holiday shopping season. Whether they are brick-and-mortar businesses or e-commerce companies, the peak season for many sellers begins in mid-November and ends in early January. This year, the National Retail Federation (NRF)’s annual shopper survey revealed that more than half of consumers said they would shop online.

To keep up with rising customer expectations about home delivery, even traditional brick-and-mortar companies are branching out with e-commerce platforms so as not to lose business. In order to keep up with the pace of holiday shopping, retailers need to be aware of several parcel shipping best practices.

Best Practices for Any Company Shipping Parcel During the 2019 Holiday Season

Know Important Dates During the Holiday Season

The first thing shippers need to be aware of when planning their shipping strategy for the holidays is important shopping dates. These are days when consumers will be expecting to see discounts and when many shoppers will make significant purchases ahead of the holidays. The unofficial holiday shopping season begins on November 11 and ends January 1 (though returns strategies must continue well past then).

Here is a breakdown of important shopping dates to be aware of this year:

  •  • November 11 – Veterans Day
  •  • November 29 – Black Friday
  •  • November 30 – Small Business Saturday
  •  • December 2 – Cyber Monday
  •  • December 14 – Free Shipping Day

These dates are days that many retailers expect heavy shopping volume and consumers expect discounts and promotions. Black Friday and Cyber Monday may be the most well known of all of these days, but Small Business Saturday and Free Shipping Day can be important to businesses holiday revenue as well.

Free Shipping Day, in particular, is gathering steam and may present an opportunity for retailers to win back market share from competitors who offer free shipping year-round. This unofficial holiday is a one-day event that retailers who are shipping parcel can participate in with a pledge to their customers to have products delivered for free ahead of Christmas day.

By offering specific promotions around any of these important shopping days, retailers can capture new business and continue to delight their customers. However, just advertising around important shopping days isn’t enough if the company fails to deliver products in time for specific days. Be aware of these important shipping deadlines when evaluating your logistics process prior to the holiday season.

  •  • November 28 – Thanksgiving
  •  • December 22-30 – Hanukkah
  •  • December 25 – Christmas
  •  • January 1 – New Year’s Eve

These are the most common days consumers expect to receive their parcel deliveries by. If a retailer cannot deliver in time for a specific holiday, the shopper is likely to abandon their cart and look elsewhere to make their purchase.

Leverage a TMS for Greater Parcel Shipping Flexibility

In order to keep up with deliveries ahead of specific holidays, retailers need to have a strategy to keep up with demand and deliver orders on time. This means doing the work ahead of time to have a concrete parcel shipping strategy in place. For many companies, this means connecting with several parcel shipping services.

Being able to quickly access different carriers’ parcel shipping rates through a single platform is essential for companies looking to optimize operations during the holidays. By leveraging a transportation management system (TMS) retailers can quickly and easily compare different parcel rates to ensure that orders are being delivered to customers before holiday deadlines at the lowest rate. This practice also helps companies organize increased order volume and provide their customers with different self-serve delivery options.

Companies with large e-commerce presences may find it beneficial to set up a direct integration between a TMS and e-commerce platform. By doing so, they give their customers the ability to select the shipping rate and delivery length that best suits their needs. This cuts down on the workload for teams and ensures that customers are always satisfied with their parcel delivery experience.

Consider Offering Free Shipping

According to an NRF quarterly Consumer View report, “75 percent of consumers surveyed expect delivery to be free even on orders under $50, up from 68 percent a year ago (2018).” That’s a big deal for retailers looking to see positive growth in online sales this holiday season. The decision to buy or not to buy can easily hinge on whether or not the retailer offers free parcel shipping.

While many may assume that younger consumers are the ones shifting the expectation of free shipping as an e-commerce norm, that assumption is incorrect. The report goes on to state:

“Baby boomers (born 1946-1964) demand free shipping the most, with 88 percent expecting it. That compares with 77 percent for Generation X (1965-1980), 61 percent for millennials (1981-1994) and 76 percent for Generation Z (1995 and later).”

This proves that no matter which segment of the marketplace your company targets, it’s likely a good idea to offer some form of free shipping. Whether it’s free shipping on orders that pass a certain threshold or free shipping on orders with longer lead time.

Insure Yourself Against Poor Service Levels

One pitfall that companies who ship final mile to their customers’ homes face is the missed delivery. Whether the delivery is simply late, it gets damaged in transit, or worst of all, lost, companies run the risk of disappointing their customers and eating the cost of shipping. This can be a lose-lose situation if a plan isn’t put into place ahead of time.

Shipping partners like Pitney Bowes offer 3-day guaranteed delivery that retailers can take advantage of when shipping products via USPS over the holidays. This Guaranteed Delivery program provides shippers with a full refund if their parcel isn’t delivered within the three-day window. This level of security helps companies confidently expand their e-commerce presence without worrying about the possible negative effects that can arise from unpreventable missed deliveries.

Have a Solid Returns Strategy

Even when the major shopping days and holidays are through, logistics and customer service teams across the country will still be hard at work managing the returns process. Pitney Bowes’ 2019 Holiday Readiness Guide details how companies can best manage post-holiday returns with three tips:

  1. Make Returns Fast and Easy
  2. Challenge Your Real Motivations
  3. Make the Label Easy to Find

Essentially, the returns process for parcel orders shouldn’t be something for companies to shy away from. Consumers will appreciate a fast and efficient returns process and are more likely to turn into repeat customers if their returns experience is treated as a priority by the company. Instead of making the process difficult by hiding returns information in the fine print or charging exorbitant shipping fees, companies can win customer loyalty and positively impact their businesses long term by making the process simple.

The 2019 Holiday Shopping Season is Here

As we approach Veteran’s Day on November 11th this year, retailers should keep in mind these parcel shipping best practices so that they can delight their customers and grow their businesses. Any company that ships parcel during the holidays can benefit from being more informed, having plans and strategies ahead of time, connections with different parcel carriers, and a strategy for post-holiday returns. By following these best practices, companies can position themselves for the best chance of success during the 2019 holiday shopping season.

Kuebix Returns Shipping

How E-Commerce is Changing Returns

The growing popularity of e-commerce has led to exponential growth in number of returns. While they have always been an integral part of shopping, online orders are significantly increasing their presence in the retail and e-commerce industries.

E-commerce platform Yotpo reported that 88% of fashion shoppers surveyed have returned fashion items purchased online in the past year. Of those shoppers, 51% have returned between $50 and $500 worth of merchandise. Consumers often order the same product in multiple sizes or a few options with the intention of only keeping one.

Consumers are making more subjective and less-predictable purchases online. Fit and quality are the top two reasons for returns. When looking at an article of clothing online, it’s often hard to tell how it will look and what size is best. The number of returns is expected to increase steadily with the volume of online orders. Businesses are starting to think of ways to make returns an opportunity for profit rather than a traditional expense.

Many retailers are starting to accept the returns of their competitors. Nordstrom recently announced it will now be taking returns from other stores including its competitors Macy’s and Kohl’s. Popular retail stores are starting to realize that returns don’t have to be viewed as a negative. The origin of the return doesn’t diminish Nordstrom’s opportunity to sell to incoming customers.

Kohl’s recently launched a similar program in which it accepts returns for Amazon orders. Amazon’s popularity is often seen as a threat and this unique approach allowed Kohl’s to use it to their advantage. Their pilot stores in Chicago and Los Angeles saw a 9% increase in new customers and an 8% increase in revenue at participating locations. In response, Kohl’s launched the program worldwide. Returns are providing retail stores losing business to e-commerce a second chance at drawing in customers and selling their products.

Happy Returns, a relatively new startup, is offering to ease the operational burden of returns. The company processes, evaluates and batches returns together at several return bars. Consumers are able to make their return in-person and receive an instant refund. Through implementing Happy Returns businesses can stabilize the cost of their returns and easily receive and process them.

Returns are creating an opportunity for additional revenue and providing a simpler solution to receiving and processing. Businesses driving profit through returns can also benefit from implementing technology into the operational side of their supply chains. A transportation management system (TMS) gives shippers complete visibility through their supply chain with real-time information on the locations of their shipments.

New Trends in Sustainable Packaging May Shake Up E-Commerce Shipping - Kuebix TMS

New Trends in Sustainable Packaging May Shake Up E-Commerce Shipping

Almost every online order fulfilled means another cardboard box shipped to a consumer. It should come as no surprise that cardboard boxes are contributing an unprecedented amount to overall cardboard waste. As environmental concerns grow, companies are beginning to look for sustainable alternatives to ship their products.

Why Cardboard Has Been a Popular Choice for Retailers

The classic cardboard box has dominated the shipping industry since 1890. Retail stores are filled with products encased in dyed paper and plastic packages, but it’s cardboard boxes that got them there. Cardboard boxes started out plain and practical to play their part in the supply chain. However, the rise of e-commerce changed the perspective of companies. Cardboard boxes quickly became an opportunity for establishing a brand.

Popular businesses that support online shopping including Amazon and Target started incorporating their brand name and even playful images or slogans onto their cardboard boxes. These new designs were created with the intention of making an impression on consumers and representing the brand’s purpose to those who didn’t come face-to-face with their store.

New Options for More Sustainable Packaging

Companies are presently being challenged to come up with an environmentally friendly alternative to shipping product in cardboard boxes that still represents their brand. 3M, a manufacturing company operating out of Minnesota, has redesigned bubble wrap to contribute to this change. Their effort is geared towards reducing the amount of packaging needed to ship smaller items. Plastic envelopes lined with bubble wrap are perceived as a better alternative to boxes because they take up less space. Even though the packages are smaller, these envelopes are limited to specific sizes that are sometimes too big for what’s being shipped.

To eliminate these barriers associated with making smarter shipping choices, 3M released its Flex & Seal Shipping Rolls. The material is a padded envelope that is sold on a roll instead of assembled packages. The new design gives consumers the ability to personalize the size of their envelopes to an appropriate size for what they’re shipping. Eliminating the use of oversized envelopes and unnecessary cardboard boxes with Flex & Seal Shipping Rolls will drastically reduce the waste oversized packaging creates.

Happy Returns, a consumer retail and e-commerce return service, is taking a different approach by eliminating boxes and single-use packaging altogether. The company is adopting the use of totes made of recycled plastic to reduce the cardboard waste they create by packaging and shipping return items for consumers. The new reusable container will minimize the amount of cardboard required for return shipments by 73% in weight and 92% in area.

Happy Returns and 3M are frontrunners in the effort to reduce packaging waste. E-commerce businesses and retail stores dependent on online sales will follow suit as environmental concerns continue to grow. The next time you order something online, be sure to keep your eye out for a more sustainable form of packaging upon delivery!

FedEx’s Breakup with Amazon Draws Battle Lines in the Fight for Shipping - Kuebix TMS

FedEx’s Breakup with Amazon Draws Battle Lines in the Fight for Shipping

FedEx is breaking up with Amazon as the e-commerce giant continues to make waves in the shipping industry. The carrier announced that it will choose not to renew its ground freight contract with Amazon for any final mile delivery, effective September 2019. This comes only 2 months after FedEx announced that it would end Express air shipments with the e-commerce company. Amazon made up roughly 1.3% of FedEx’s total sales in 2018.

According to spokespeople from both companies, the breakup is amicable, an Amazon operations executive even tweeting “we wish them nothing but the best, conscious uncoupling at its finest.” But this conscious uncoupling goes deeper than a simple business incompatibility.

Here’s what you need to know about why FedEx and Amazon have officially parted ways.


Amazon’s Bid to Transform the Shipping Industry

It’s no secret that Amazon has ushered in an era or super-fast, super-convenient online shopping. The company has become the #1 e-commerce platform, bringing in close to $232 billion U.S. dollars in 2018 net sales. By promising Prime members free, 2-day shipping on thousands of items, Amazon has built consumer loyalty and changed the way shoppers think about shipping. Customer expectations have changed and 2-day, or even faster, delivery is now expected. In fact, Amazon plans to make 1-day delivery standard for Prime members in 2020.

Amazon

In order to meet these pie-in-the-sky delivery promises, Amazon has decided that a ‘go-it-alone’ strategy is needed for their logistics operations. Instead of solely relying on established parcel carriers like FedEx, UPS, or the United States Postal Service (USPS), the company is increasingly developing their own shipping networks. This includes building out their own fleet to fulfill final mile deliveries. Most recently, Amazon announced that they will pay their employees $10,000 and 3 months’ pay to quit and start their own Amazon delivery service.

In addition to expanding their ground fleet operations, Amazon has also added hundreds of fulfilment centers to its logistics network, announced its groundbreaking drone delivery program, and added next-day air capacity with leased jets. It’s not surprising that FedEx feels the need to distance itself from a company that appears to be stepping into their territory. The company is taking short-term pain over the possibility of continuing a potentially damaging relationship long-term.

FedEx Bets On Wal-Mart and Other E-Commerce Businesses

Amazon officially surpassed Wal-Mart as the world’s largest retailer earlier in 2019. That isn’t to say that Wal-Mart doesn’t pose a threat to Amazon’s monopoly in the e-commerce world. Wal-Mart has some 2.2 million workers, a number roughly 4 times the number Amazon employs. It also already owns a vast amount of real estate, strategically dispersed across the USA. Not to mention that Wal-Mart owns one of the largest private fleets in America. By building upon this base, Wal-Mart has ramped up efforts to compete with Amazon in the e-commerce sector. This includes plans to roll out a 1-day delivery program that shoppers can take advantage of without any membership fees.

Parcel and E-commerce

FedEx appears to be betting on Wal-Mart as Amazon’s primary rival in the fast and free online shopping industry. According to the founder of SJ Consulting Group, a company providing data and advice to logistics companies, the decision to sever ties with Amazon is a way for FedEx to “get Walmart to realize that they’re not working with Walmart’s biggest competitor and to have Walmart make FedEx their primary carrier.

To make up for the short-term loss of 1.3% of their business, FedEx also announced in May that they would begin seven-day ground freight services at the beginning of 2020. This move will likely make them an even more desirable carrier for companies like Wal-Mart, Walgreens, and other retailers in the e-commerce space.

The Future of Final Mile

The breakup of Amazon and FedEx is just another example of the battle lines being drawn between Amazon and the rest of the retail industry. As companies seek to differentiate themselves from the e-commerce behemoth, changes as small as choosing a different carrier can be important. FedEx appears to already be taking steps to compete against Amazon’s 2-day and 1-day delivery promise. The future of final mile delivery is still uncertain, but the main competitors are just now entering the ring.