The Surge Is On

By January 8, 2020 January 10th, 2020 Articles of Interest, Fulfillment

Are you ready to handle the spike in online sales?

It’s not just about the holidays anymore

Today, surges in online shopping are occurring for broader and often unpredictable reasons. From shifting consumer preferences to the rise of social media, new trends are creating new demands for online retailers to manage the variability of online sales volume. When consumers expect your products to arrive literally at the speed of now, this variability can put significant pressure on your fulfillment center to ship on time and meet customer expectations for fast delivery.

Where is all this variability coming from? To be sure, the year-end holiday season continues to be a certain source of surges in online shopping. On Black Friday 2019, online sales exploded to an all-time record of $7.4 billion, according to Adobe Analytics. As you might expect, there was a corresponding drop in brick-and-mortar store sales on that day, decreasing 6.2% year-over-year.1 Indeed, two billion packages moved from fulfillment centers to customers’ front doors during this past holiday season.2

The social media surge

Aside from the holiday season and ongoing trend for sales to shift from the store down the street to your smart phone, another emerging trend is having a significant impact on surging sales volume: social media. Consumers are using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media outlets to talk about your products. They’re sharing their brand experiences literally in real time. And when your customer shares a positive “unboxing experience” on YouTube, literally thousands of people (if not more), could be watching.

These social media “influencers” can create sudden sales surges in a matter of hours. If you’re not prepared to handle them, you could potentially disappoint new customers. (And that can result in an entirely different kind of online review.)

So, what can you do to help manage these surges in online sales?

Three ways to manage the challenge

  1. Practice “surge prevention”: Seek to balance all of the factors that contribute to a sales surge in the first place. If you’re in the middle of the holiday season, run a big product promotion and introduce a new item to tens of thousands of social media users, chances are you’re creating the surge yourself! By balancing all of these activities, you can better manage your online sales volume.
  2. Limit the surge: If you know a surge is coming, look for ways to limit it. For example, don’t put all of your products on sale all at once—just a few. That way, your fulfillment center can “pre-kit” products in anticipation of the spike in sales volume. Also, consider bundling sale items into variety packs that can be pre-assembled and ready to go once the promotion begins.
  3. Plan ahead with your fulfillment center: If you know a surge is coming, your fulfillment center will need to have a variety of tools to help ensure your products arrive on time and deliver the brand experience your customers expect. These tools include:
    • The ability to scale fulfillment operations to meet sudden surges in sales volume.
    • Operating multiple shifts—including evenings and weekends. (After all, the Internet never closes; your fulfillment center needs to be ready whenever your customers are shopping.)
    • Maintaining multiple fulfillment centers nationwide, so you can balance the surge in volume among them.
    • Leveraging the latest technology to help ensure on-time fulfillment and delivery. For example, changing the way products are picked can save significant time during periods of peak sales volume.

At TAGG Logistics, we’re committed to helping you deliver Your Business Everywhere℠ not just when it’s easy—but also when sales volume spikes make it challenging. Don’t fear the surge—prepare for it! Let TAGG be your guide.

1 CNBC.com. “Black Friday shopping at brick-and-mortar stores dropped 6% as consumers spent record online.” November 30, 2019.
2 The Wall Street Journal. “Tight Holiday Season Will Test UPS, FedEx and Amazon.” December 2, 2019.

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