Those wondering whether the unprecedented levels of Christmastime eCommerce spending in 2020 were a fluke need only to look at the early reports coming out of the 2021 holiday shopping season to understand the future of peak season eCommerce shopping.
eCommerce in 2021 continued the impressive online retail surge seen in 2020. While overall holiday retail sales from November 1 to December 24 climbed 8.5 percent in 2021, eCommerce spending surpassed this growth, totaling a nearly 11 percent jump compared to the same period from 2019.
Combined with the knowledge that online ordering has grown 61 percent compared to 2019, eCommerce brands should continue to work with their logistics partners to plan for the years ahead.
What Are eCommerce Consumers Looking For?
eCommerce giants like Amazon and Walmart have changed the game on online retail forever. Consumers have a set expectation for fast, free shipping. Additionally, buy-online, pickup-in-store and curbside pickup models make it simple for consumers to get certain items as quickly as the same day. But this isn’t always an option for small eCommerce brands. How much sway does this kind of instant (or near-instant) gratification have over consumers? And how can eCommerce brands keep up?
Eighty-seven percent of customers report that delivery time influences their purchasing decisions.
This is never more true than during peak seasons like Christmas, where shoppers want to ensure their purchases are delivered, wrapped, and under their tree in time for their holiday celebrations. This has never been more important than it is now, nearly two years into the pandemic. After all, as one online-shopping parent shared with The New York Times, “I have three kids who still believe in Santa Claus. I was not going to bookend these two really dramatic years for us with them suddenly not getting what they wanted.”
What’s more, 98.3 percent of consumers would like notifications if their orders will arrive late. Timeliness is always key when it comes to eCommerce logistics, but it is especially crucial during the peak holiday season.
The two main things eCommerce consumers are looking for during their peak holiday season shopping?
- That the items they are interested in buying are available and in-stock online
- That they have the assurance that when they order these items they will arrive in a timely fashion
eCommerce and direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands should emphasize product availability and fast, affordable shipping as part of their peak week strategy
What is the Outlook for Peak Season Shipping?
So, what can eCommerce brands expect for peak season shipping? A better outlook than the challenges of 2020 when small and large carriers alike were overloaded by millions of packages each day.
At the height of 2020’s holiday shipping season, there were approximately 6 million packages that were not picked up per day, an additional 3.5 million packages that were picked up but did not reach their destination by the promised date, and more than one million orders that did not make it to their intended location by Christmas Day.
While the peak shipping season in 2021 overcame many of the challenges of the 2020 peak season and the outlook has improved, there are still plenty of difficulties to face regarding logistics in the months and years ahead.
OceanX worked diligently through 2020 and 2021 to face these logistics challenges and took important measures like monitoring the average transit time for each carrier partner. OceanX tracked each carrier’s performance down to the most minute detail, broken down by state and fulfillment center. The client success team started monitoring these performance metrics well before peak season to establish a baseline to keep a close eye on how carriers were performing. Plus, OceanX ensured transparency for all of their clients, publishing these carrier performance metrics weekly.
Rolling through the 2021 peak season, OceanX used this data to make slight adjustments to its fulfillment and carrier operations. As a result, OceanX’s partners experienced only minor changes in performance, successfully continuing their operations with exceptional customer service and delivery.
When Should You Start Planning for Peaks?
As Shawn Compton, Vice President of Fulfillment Logistics at OceanX has shared, “It’s never too early” to start planning for peak season since there are so many different factors to consider.
But truly, mid-summer is the ideal time to start planning a carrier strategy with your third-party logistics (3PL) partner.
Looking at your carrier’s portfolio of transit times, mid-summer is the right time to decide how to implement changes for a successful peak season even during the most stressed of supply chains.
These changes need to start happening over the summer because once peak season hits, there aren’t many opportunities to make large-scale fulfillment and carrier changes. For example, eCommerce brands don’t have the capability to move tens of thousands of pounds of products during peak season; this needs to happen before this busy time. Sure, your 3PL partner and their carrier partners can make minor tweaks during peak season with some flexibility to improve transit times, but it would be significantly harder to make major changes while operations are scaled up to meet peak season demand.
In the months leading up to peak season, your 3PL partner can devote the proper resources, equipment, and capacity to support your peak season needs.
How OceanX Ensures Successful Shipping During Peaks
There’s no question that 2020 was a challenging year for eCommerce brands, and it seems as though peak season will continue to be difficult in the years ahead. Seeing this trend, it is abundantly clear to the OceanX team that they needed to alter their peak season strategies to keep up.
To help its partners keep up with the change in peak season demand, OceanX has developed a robust, multi-carrier portfolio to meet the vast and varied needs of its clients. OceanX recognizes that long gone are the days where logistics operations are purely a function of operations, choosing the cheapest option and negotiating for low rates.
At OceanX, logistics is an integral function of client success. Its performance is a vital aspect of the overall customer experience and can enhance their opinion of your brand. OceanX partners with a network of carriers that offer economical shipping rates with fast transit times while also offering client access to several elevated carriers who offer even better transit times, for a diverse portfolio of carriers to best serve the needs of each client.
OceanX is proud to partner with both big national carriers and regional carriers alike. These smaller regional carriers can offer excellent transit times in greater metropolitan areas at affordable rates.
Through all different kinds of carrier partnerships, OceanX can support your operations to meet your cost, customer service, and transit needs.
Plan with an Experienced Logistics Partner
Remember: It’s never too early to start planning for peak season.
Don’t be afraid to work closely with your 3PL partner, communicate your needs, plans, and goals for peak season, and let them know what’s most important in the carriers that support your operations. Together with an experienced 3PL partner, you can develop a peak season strategy that provides what’s best for you and your customers.
To learn more about how OceanX can support your operations with an expert network of carriers, connect with OceanX today.