Black Friday or Black November: Retailers Turn to Technology for E-Commerce Logistics

E-Commerce Logistics | Black Friday or Black November

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving that once signified the beginning of the holiday shopping season, had been indulging in a calendar creep over the last several years, leading many to refer to it as “Grey Thursday.” And the shopping holiday is taking on a new name, Black November. Meanwhile, interest in complementary supply and demand chain tools like logistics automation has grown accordingly. So, let’s take a closer look at the changes coming up and how retailers can leverage technology to streamline e-commerce logistics.

Black Friday Is Dead

While just a year ago retailers braced for large, enthusiastic crowds gathering outside store doors, COVID-19 will undoubtedly put a chill on this long-standing tradition. As a result, e-commerce logistics will look very different in 2020 versus 2019. According to Wral Tech Wire, “The shopping spectacular is getting a pandemic-induced makeover, with many major retailers starting their sales earlier than ever and ending them later. Companies are hoping to avoid the crush of customers that crowd stores on the Friday after Thanksgiving by giving them more buying, pickup, and delivery options.”

No longer restricted to a Cyber Monday spotlight, e-commerce is leveraging its pandemic popularity this year to blur the once-distinction between in-person deals and online ones in the feverish post-Thanksgiving buying season. Even the bricks-and-clicks sector, with its curbside pickup-style options, is joining the fray.

Long Live Black November

It’s no secret that e-commerce has seen a vast bump overall, thanks to quarantine-induced shopping habits. As of April 2020, Forbes reported that e-commerce sales were already up 129% year-over-year compared to 2019. Now, facing an extended peak season for e-commerce logistics, those same numbers can feel more like a curse than a blessing for any retailers that are unprepared. Growing profitability and supply chain efficacy in these unique conditions requires smart planning.

How to Leverage an Extended Peak Season to Grow Profitability and Supply Chain Efficacy

It’s important to realize that most shipping contracts were created in a pre-pandemic world. And as a result, they are long overdue for examination, fine-tuning, and potentially even retirement altogether. Fortunately, it’s easier to leverage the extended peak season by following a these four tips:
  1. Rethink existing contracted capacity. With shipping peaks breaking out of historical norms, logistics planning is edging closer to JIT-style approaches and prizing versatility and adaptability over legacy contractual setups. Consider solutions like digital freight matching to build in scalability.

  2. Source new carriers, lanes, and brokers to increase capacity. There’s never been a better time to explore options outside of established logistics networks. Researching scalability doesn’t necessarily mean jumping ship. There’s always a way to supplement, support, and grow the existing shipping and logistics network.

  3. Enable end-to-end visibility to avoid miscommunications and delays. To put it bluntly, the better your understanding of a problem, the smarter the solution can be applied. Relying on reports of issues that come after a truck is already late will have a ripple effect up and down the supply and demand chain, causing many more micro-issues after the fact.

  4. Centralize your logistics management with a global, SaaS-driven TMS. While it might only seem like a minor inconvenience to “translate” data from one system to another, the truth is all those “just a second” tasks add up and hamstring efficiency.

Deploy the Right Technology to Thrive Through E-Commerce Logistics

Leveraging e-commerce-conducive technology will enable shippers to thrive through 2020’s peak season and beyond. Above all else, using a global, Saas-driven transportation management system is of the highest priority. While there might be an investment in time and effort to initially pull everything under one umbrella, it’s a revolutionary investment in your supply and demand chain handling that will inevitably pay off over time.

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