All signs point to a muted retail peak outlook for 2023, with many shippers booking later sailings than in the past as they continue to burn through inventory, figure out demand signals and determine what new products to introduce for end-of-year holidays, Seko Logistics executives said on a media day call. The company’s CEO still sees “green shoots” of optimism with ordering picking up.
With lowered holiday shopping expectations amid inflation concerns, consumers hunt for deals as early promotions lured them in but not in the hoped-for droves, and inventory remains a challenge. Retailers continue to discount and promote to clear out stock, increasingly using resale platforms like Poshmark, ThredUp and Etsy.
While most markers indicate more than sufficient carrier capacity to meet Q4 demand, that doesn’t mean all is smooth sailing, with chokepoints and a possible dockworker strike. This operations special report on capacity management from Multichannel Merchant taps experts and retailers on the Q4 outlook and what to expect.
With the anticipation of lower foot traffic in stores coupled with inventory concerns, prioritizing your ecommerce channel from a planning perspective, even at the intentional detriment of having lower stock levels in stores, may save sales during this peak holiday shopping period. And omnichannel is no longer an option.
UPS has extended shipping surcharges into 2021, with some similarities and some differences FedEx. Most notable was a steeper price drop for the surcharge on UPS’s SurePost last-mile service, used by many smaller ecommerce shippers, as FedEx may be covering the cost of shifting volume from the USPS into its own ground network.
This holiday season retailers will not only have to contend with decreased carrier capacity due to the pandemic but also the anticipated influx of mail-in election ballots – all of which could result in a “super peak” holiday nightmare for retailers. Now is the time to implement strategies to ensure they can keep up with demand.
The U.S. Post Office is taking the unprecedented step of seeking a peak surcharge in anticipation of huge holiday demand for ecommerce parcel shipping. If approved the increases would take effect from Oct. 18 to Dec. 27, ranging from an additional 24 cents to $1.50 more per package, across all its products.
The U.S. Postal Service is projecting it will handle 800 million packages between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, a drop from both 2018 and 2017. Sunday delivery will be expanded beginning Nov. 24 to high-volume urban locations, with projections of over 8 million package deliveries on Sundays in December.
Retailers lowered the bar for Christmas season fulfillment, then easily cleared it, according to Kurt Salmon. Ninety-three percent of retailers tracked were able to process and deliver customer orders by the last guaranteed delivery date. But 33% of them ditched their last order promise date as Christmas approached.
FedEx is testing the use of autonomous tugs to transport items within its sortation and distribution facilities in an effort to handle the growing volume of bulky ecommerce orders more efficiently. See what other types of automation the carrier is using to optimize the massive flow of packages through its network at peak.