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Warehouse management lessons from 2018 Black Friday and Cyber Monday

10 December 2018 / by Chris Anton, Executive VP for SnapFulfil North America

As the tidal wave of Thanksgiving shopping slowly rolls into the slightly calmer peak season rhythm, retailers can learn a great deal about warehouse management from 2018 Black Friday and Cyber Monday. According to a recent Adobe report, consumers spent $6.2 billion on Black Friday. Cyber Monday spending was up nearly 20 percent from 2017, hitting $7.9 billion.

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On top of the demand, retailers and their warehouse teams had to navigate constantly changing variables that impact the consumer experience. 

Here are three lessons you too can learn from 2018’s Thanksgiving rush: 

1. Inventory Management is Crucial

eCommerce goliaths continue to report staggering numbers around the holiday season. Amazon recently reported that Cyber Monday was the single biggest shopping day in the company’s history. 

And many retailers, both online and brick-and-mortar, are now beginning to extend deals beyond Black Friday and Cyber Monday, such as Amazon’s “Turkey 5.” But with these extensions come increased demand and the need for systems that can keep up. Many traditional retailers faced out-of-stock struggles. According to Adobe, 3.3 percent of product page visits had an out-of-stock message on Thanksgiving, followed by 2.8 percent on Black Friday and 2.4 percent on Cyber Monday, costing $484 million in potential sales. 

With options such as buy online, pick-up in-store, warehouses need to be able to provide clear and consistent inventory information to ensure the proper type and number of products are available. A best-of-breed warehouse management system (WMS) can help ensure your warehouse is able to provide this level of visibility so retailers can be sure demand is met.   

2. Shipping Efficiency Can’t be Overlooked

In addition to extremely high demands for products during peak holiday shopping, many retailers are now offering free two-day shipping on all product orders. This heightens the pressure on warehouses to keep up with increased fulfillment needs in addition to shipping accuracy. 

Utilizing WMS technology, your warehouse can better optimize processes to ensure goods get out the door and to the store or consumer’s doorstep quicker. Streamlining picking and packing processes can help your employees get the right goods to the right locations, without sacrificing speed. 

3. Accurate Fulfillment Reflects the Entire Customer Experience

While consumer demands for product options, shipping speed and order accuracy are ever-increasing, each factor is of equal importance. Consumers want many options quickly, but they don’t want to sacrifice accuracy. A negative delivery experience can ultimately impact the entire customer experience. 

As direct-to-consumer shipping grows as one of many fulfillment channels, fewer errors in the warehouse spell greater success for the entire customer experience. 

The warehouse is the foundation for the last mile of the customer experience, and a WMS can give you the necessary visibility into your inventory and processes to make that foundation solid and optimized. 

Multi-channel Matters

With the growth of eCommerce and in-store purchases, mastering multichannel fulfillment is a necessity to provide the customer experience required of today’s retail operations. Deeper visibility into inventory can help give your warehouse the consistency it needs to maintain optimal fulfillment operations, without sacrificing accuracy and efficiency. 

Harnessing these lessons, your warehouse can head into the new year with a comprehensive strategy to tackle any demand spikes – both the expected and unexpected.

 

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