U.S. Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday mark the official beginning of America’s holiday shopping season and with it comes what we in supply chain management refer to as reverse logistics – better known as returns!
Based on data from the U.S. Commerce Department, online sales represent 11% of 2016 retail sales and are expected to increase by 20% more over the next 5 years. Exacerbated by the increase in online demand, order fulfillment centers are being forced to rethink their ‘efulfillment’ procedures – how to meet online consumer demand as well as how they handle reverse logistics / returns, reports Supply Chain Digest. Retail chains Macy’s and JC Penny reportedly both had ‘major store closures’ during 2016 due to merchandise handling issues.
One FedEx representative, Jonathan Radar says, “Ecommerce is standing [the Logistics] industry on its ear” due to high consumer expectations – “I want it here, I want it there, and I want it now.” Voxware, a service provider of cloud based solutions for distribution operators, conducted a survey supporting this statement. Voxware’s president Keith Phillips claims their survey revealed “online shoppers, especially during the four days surrounding Black Friday and Cyber Monday, place the same if not higher demands on distribution operations for fast and accurate delivery as during any other time of the holiday season.”
Large fulfillment companies are challenged to meet this demand. “There is the emerging trend of small urban warehouses,” says Radar, “developed to speed local deliveries now often made in just a matter of hours.” The returns issue and how to handle it though remains ever evolving. (Related article: “Return to Sender” – What’s Your Policy?).
Smaller third party logistics partners (3PL) like UCanTrade, Inc. can bridge the gap between etailer and consumer by providing the hands-on attention to detail required to insure order accuracy and timely deliveries while also handling returns, repairs, or re-stocking issues. (Related Article: Six Eyes On Every Box). They’re better equipped to fulfill the order supply chain ‘from the consumer back’.
TradeTips blog is published by UCanTrade, Inc., your cross-border experts since 1984.
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(Source Article Links: Early Shoppers have higher fulfillment expectations and MHI Conference Panel Recap – Focus on Supply Chain and Consumer)