Peak season in review: Three key lessons to use all year
This year’s traditional shopping season, from Black Friday through Christmas Eve, was six days shorter than in 2018 because of Thanksgiving’s late placement on the calendar. Here are three takeaways from a fulfillment perspective, to remember to next year and to employ year-round.
Retailers were exuding an air of confidence heading into the 2019 holiday shopping season, with the National Retail Federation expecting sales to rise from 3.8% to 4.2% in November and December. But the calendar had conspired against them: This year’s traditional shopping season, from Black Friday through Christmas Eve, was six days shorter than in 2018 because of Thanksgiving’s late placement on the calendar.
Still, retailers managed to post a healthy 3.4% increase in 2019, according to data from Mastercard, and online sales accounted for most of that sizeable gain. Ecommerce sales increased 19% from the 2018 holiday shopping season and represented a record-high 15% of total sales, while in-store purchases climbed only 1.2%.
Consumers’ migration to the online marketplace appears to be unstoppable. Worldwide, consumers were expected to spend almost $3.46 trillion online in 2019, up 17.9% from $2.93 trillion in 2018, according to Internet Retailer, with ecommerce sales in the U.S. rising to 14%.
Optimizing and investing in fulfillment capabilities early in the year can have online retailers primed through peak season
From a fulfillment perspective, online retailers and shippers faced their biggest logistical challenge to date during the 2019 holiday season, and the sales figures suggest that they cleared every hurdle. Building on that success, here are three takeaways to remember for next year and to employ year-round.
1. Go high-tech to improve execution
Optimizing and investing in fulfillment capabilities early in the year can have online retailers primed through peak season. The Pregis eCentric packaging platform takes order fulfillment to a new level by focusing on five essential elements of ecommerce: multichannel fulfillment, damages and returns, shipping costs, lifetime customer value and the unboxing and overall customer experience.
The experienced packaging engineers at Pregis can optimize any companies packing practices by tailoring its solutions to its products. By offering educational and training tools, Pregis can help businesses standardize their packaging operations to create consistently positive customer experiences. Shippers can avoid the underuse or overuse of packing supplies and the high shipping charges associated with unnecessarily large parcels.
Using Pregis’ proven, data-centric approach to packaging, shippers can have confidence that they will see lower damage rates and shipping costs, higher throughput and customer satisfaction.
2. Connect with customers through packaging
Since brands don’t get the chance to meaningfully connect with online shoppers on store shelves, a rewarding unboxing experience is key to building customer loyalty and earning repeat business. Refreshing and updating product packaging materials is one way online retailers can stand out from the crowd and have shoppers excited to open their parcels.
Colorful, eye-catching packaging supplies – such as AirSpeed HC Inspyre inflatable cushioning, available in blue, pink or black – can create a “wow” factor for consumers.
In addition, Pregis offers a variety of packaging supplies that can be customized to feature a brand’s logo, color scheme and marketing messaging.
3. Be prepared – all year
Leading online retailers like Amazon don’t solely focus on major shopping days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday; they have big deals and promotional weekends scheduled throughout November and December to appeal to consumers across all product segments. To prepare for a busy peak season from start to finish, fulfillment centers should start months in advance by upgrading their packaging solutions and stocking up on packing materials.
Pregis offers a wide range of automated packing solutions that greatly increase throughout, promote right size packaging habits to reduce shipping costs and protect items to ultimately lower damage rates and satisfy customers. Available solutions include automated poly-baggers; on-demand inflatable air cushions and foam-in-place solutions for void fill; paper packaging for blocking and bracing; and cohesive packaging for a super-snug fit. Those solutions all prevent damage from compression, drops and movement within the box during shipping.
By stocking up on packaging supplies such as cushioned mailers and mailer boxes, fulfillment centers can reduce their usage of boxes and other packing supplies, and they can right size parcels to avoid additional shipping charges for dimensional weight. Having the right selection of packaging products in place before peak season starts can help online retailers hit the ground running.
It’s a wrap
The 2020 holiday shopping season might be a long way off, but by upgrading their packaging solutions now, online retailers can give themselves a gift that will pay dividends throughout the holiday season and beyond.