Major marketing pushes like Cyber Monday and Black Friday weekend report record online shopping surges that stretch logistics to the limit. To meet peak demand, e-retailers need an action plan that is data driven and focused on predictive intelligence for maximum supply chain efficiency.
This year Cyber Monday and Black Friday weekend again clocked in as two of the most profitable days for online shopping, raking in over $6 billion on Black Friday plus an estimated $7.8 billion on Cyber Monday in the U.S. Black Friday is also a hit in Europe, with last year’s online sales being Amazon.fr’s busiest day ever, logging more than 2 million unit sales in one day. Meanwhile in China, Singles Day (created by e-commerce giant Alibaba) takes place annually on November 11, and was the world’s biggest online shopping day, smashing all records with $30.8 billion in under 24 hours this year.
These shopping surges present significant logistics challenges for e-retailers, and even small missteps can have a big impact on profit and consumer loyalty. What is the best plan of action for peak performance?
Action 1: Collect detailed supply chain data in real time
Improving operational efficiency relies heavily on analytics so data must be collected in real time from every step of the supply chain before the rush. Investment should be made in the right tools to generate available and accurate data that can be analyzed, visualized, tracked, monitored, filtered, shared and simulated.
“The most successful e-retailers have highly controlled and honed processes thanks to systems that track each step of the supply chain and identify weak segments that need enhancements,” explains Simon Pioche, CEO of Livejourney. An expert on the process, Mr Pioche’s company offers an SaaS platform that lets e-commerce sites dynamically visualize and analyze end-to-end, real-time customer or product scenarios to optimize KPIs and ROI.
Action 2: Forecast and plan with predictive technology
Now armed with quality data, e-retailers can better forecast and plan for the rush using predictive technology. Predictive solutions improve performance by unveiling process inefficiencies to help avoid problems before they happen. They predict outcomes related to supply and demand, seasonal customer buying habits, inventory optimization, labor management, shipping times and more.
“Predictive technology generates actionable information to anticipate and control flows. At Livejourney, we see up to 96% forecast accuracy in volumes and nearly 40% improvement in compliance for supply chains,” says Simon Pioche.
Artificial Intelligence can be used to reduce risk because it models various possibilities and paths in the supply chain, saving time and money. Logisticians are essential to interpret the data to reach goals.
Action 3: Be reactive and agile to supply chain management disruptions
No matter how much preparation, surprises can happen. The answer is to be reactive and agile when an issue threatens to disrupt supply chain management.
If a process doesn’t hold up during peak activity, change it quickly. Fast decision making and flexible back-up plans protect the bottom line and set e-retailers apart.
Input from external logistics partners is valuable because they master the process, and can both evaluate what is possible and how to improve steps in the chain. Depending on need, partnerships can be established for a long term period or to deal with a one-off rush like Black Friday.
Action 4: Leverage lessons learned for future logistics success
“Amazon is data driven, and it’s no coincidence they are number one. The big players, the champions – they are always the stars of process. They learn from their mistakes and know then not to replicate them,” highlights Simon Pioche.
E-commerce needs to leverage lessons learned from rush periods to make smart decisions for future logistics planning – take time to closely analyze data, make necessary adjustments, re-evaluate and think about how to innovation processes.
Thrive during the holiday shopping season
Activity peaks are ongoing in this booming market, with global e-commerce sales projected to hit nearly $5 trillion in 2021.
The next challenge logistics experts will face is the soon-arriving holiday shopping season. Now is the time to prepare every step of the supply chain and fine-tune strategies to be able to deliver more –and faster – for an opportunity to rise above competitors and see sales soar.