Online shopping has become a mainstay of the holiday season, but this year, it’s exponentially boomed as a result of the pandemic. So what happens when an unprecedented holiday shopping rush meets pandemic demands? Some experts are predicting “Shipageddon.”
The United States Postal Service and other carriers have already experienced a huge surge in parcel shipping volumes throughout the COVID-19 outbreak. Consider all of the people ordering home goods, office, and school supplies online to maintain social distancing. As a result of the massive increase in e-commerce purchases, delivery rates for many items are currently experiencing delays, and have been for several months.
Experts are predicting online shopping for the 2020 holiday season will be as much as 35% higher than last year. Unfortunately, the shipping industry is already strained, and the increase in online purchases is outpacing resources. There simply aren’t enough personnel, containers, and in some cases products, to handle the increased demand. Examining the scenario through the basic laws of supply and demand, there is a high probability many packages will take a much longer time arriving at their destination. There may also be an increase in lost packages, and popular items may sell out much quicker than in previous years.
The Issues with Online Shopping and Shipping Gifts
Many companies are scrambling to add more resources, but you can expect there will be delays. The issues with shipping are complex:
- Companies are overloaded with online shopping volumes due to coronavirus, and this has been an issue since March. Stores in many locations were closed for extended periods of time, making it impossible for shoppers to purchase their items in person. Many turned to online retailers in order to purchase simple necessities rather than venture to large box stores with long lines.
- This year, the CDC has issued warnings about large holiday sales, such as Black Friday events. These are considered a high risk for spreading COVID-19. While these sales may still go forward in limited or even full capacity in many areas, a great many shoppers will avoid them. Any shoppers concerned about spreading COVID-19 and following CDC guidelines will more likely look for options to buy online.
- Many retailers are being frugal with their inventory because they don’t want to have a huge surplus after the holiday season has ended. It’s difficult to accurately project purchases this year. With this in mind, it may not only be difficult to have your items shipped on time, it may be hard to find the products you want.
Planning Ahead for Holiday Shopping
If you’re a person who usually waits until the last minute, this tactic won’t work in 2020. It’s likely your purchases will be significantly delayed. It’s far better this year to prepare early rather than wait until the last minute.
Some tactics to help you prepare for the holiday season:
- Place online orders well In advance. You should order any of your holiday gifts before December, if possible. A standard delivery timeframe of one week may be doubled.
- Ship items ahead of time. For those mailing gifts to relatives in other locations, send them early. All of the major carriers as well as the USPS are experiencing a massive increase in package volumes this year.
- Don’t wait for sales. In a traditional holiday season, retailers cut prices the week leading up to Christmas. This year, many stores won’t be offering the massive savings found at Black Friday events or the week before Christmas because they’re not increasing their inventory at the rates they previously have.
- Don’t bargain shop for necessary items. If you have a gift or item you absolutely need to get, buy it right away. Because retailers are stocking less, it’s expected that popular items will sell out. If you wait or bargain shop, it’s more likely you won’t be able to find the item before the holidays.
What Does the Holiday Season Mean for Retailers?
This holiday season looms with a large question mark for a lot of retailers. For most retail stores, the holidays comprise a significant amount of their yearly revenue. But because in person purchasing may be diminished significantly (or entirely), it will be important to find new ways to meet your customer’s shipping needs.
To successfully execute this holiday season and keep customers coming back, many retailers have turned to cloud multi-carrier parcel management technology. With the effective use of cloud multi-carrier shipping solutions, companies are able to efficiently ship goods worldwide at the lowest possible price and gain a competitive advantage by:
- Maximizing the customer experience by offering fast and flexible services, increased delivery transparency, and proactive responses to their individual needs
- Managing carriers to ensure compliance and avoid delivery delays due to incorrect labels and documentation
- Rate shopping with contractual partners to select the best carrier service for each shipment according to customer preferences and business rules
- Identifying and quickly on-boarding new carriers to better leverage last mile services and expand into international markets
- Eliminating labor intensive tasks such as carrier invoice reconciliation
- Leveraging Business Intelligence (BI) tools to uncover savings opportunities
Transform Holiday Shipping
Are you bracing for an influx of online orders this peak season? See how Logistyx’s cloud multi-carrier shipping solution can transform the parcel delivery lifecycle for your business.