It was a busy year for everyone involved in order fulfillment, with December inevitably one of the most active months on the calendar.
With a record start to the shopping season and the increasingly complex requirements of getting goods in the hands of customers, immediate order fulfillment was the name of the game. Even if professionals in our industry had one eye on the anticipated supply chain challenges of 2016, making good on the business of 2015 was the primary focus.
If you missed any industry news in the rush of last month, here’s your quick catch up.
Order Fulfillment in Review: December 2015
Here are some of the more significant supply chain headlines that you might have missed last month:
- Delayed Christmas deliveries dominated the headlines in the middle of the month, as major parcel carriers and retailers struggled to keep pace with the demands of record-breaking holiday orders. In addition to the likes of FedEx and UPS implementing emergency measures to handle the rush of orders from customers taking advantage of free shipping from major retailers like Walmart, Amazon, and Target, new players like Jet.com were also forced to admit that not all orders placed before published deadlines could be guaranteed a Christmas delivery.
- The American Trucking Association reported a fall in truck tonnage as the year drew to a close, curtailing some of the gains made in previous months. It marked an unexpected dip in what has typically been a strong sector, sparking concerns that there could be further negative effects from excess inventory in the supply chain as we head into a new year.
- Home Depot became the latest retailer to shine a light on developing a more sustainable supply chain, releasing its Sustainability Report for 2015 and setting related goals for the next five years. Among a variety of initiatives, by 2020 the company aims to decrease its total energy use by 20% (compared to 2010 use levels) and replace 135 MW of its standard electrical consumption, with a mix of solar, wind, fuel cells that its facilities maintain on site, and new solar installations. To learn more about our own sustainability initiatives, click here.
- Grocery ecommerce received a lot of attention as analysts attempted to predict the growth industries of 2016. Growing competition in big cities across North America is predicted to be just the start of the nascent business model, as major names like Amazon and Google attempt to supplant existing startups by tackling the complex fulfillment challenges raised by the rapid delivery of perishable products.
- The American Association of Railroads reported a 2.5% reduction in rail freight volumes for last year, citing weakness key sectors such as energy and manufacturing as the principal cause of the decline.
- Following regular reports of falling fuel prices and the continued presence of extra inventory in the supply chain, Drewry followed up with a forecast that suggests container shipping lines could lose as much as $5 billion in 2016 as a direct result of these issues. Declining freight rates and the leveling off of bunker fuel prices are expected to drive the continued decline, which follows more than a decade of robust growth in the sector.
- Even against that less-than-optimistic backdrop, the Port of Los Angeles closed out a challenging year with a nod to a brighter 2016, with the arrival of the largest container ship ever to arrive at a US port. The 1,300-foot-long CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin required some extra invention, appropriately enough, to unload thousands of inbound containers. Additional workers were scheduled, trucking companies were given extra notification for scheduled pick-ups, and railway cars were positioned weeks in advance to ensure a smooth operation, which hints at the demands that will be placed on US ports as vessel sizes continue to increase.