November 11, 2015

‘Tis the season to shop, as you’ll have noticed if you’ve stopped into any big box store in the last week or so.

The digital world is gearing up for holiday ecommerce as well, with Black Friday flyers leaking out online and retailers shouting “free shipping!” from the rooftops.

So far, so standard. But what is changing is the way consumers perceive this annual shopping extravaganza. Continue reading Cyber Season: Holiday Ecommerce Blurs Shopping Boundaries

December 9, 2014

Black Friday? More like Bleak Friday, as retailers reported an 11% drop in sales revenue on this important post-Thanksgiving celebration of deep discount sales.

Cyber Monday, meanwhile, rose only 8% on last year’s figures, which also fell short of expectations (with the exception of Wal-Mart, who came up smelling of roses.) The reality failed to live up to the hype of the holiday, following widespread predictions of a record-breaking start to the season.

Overall it was a bit of a bust for most retailers and left them looking hopefully at the next few weeks of spending season to bridge that gap in expectations. Dollar and discount stores generally fared better over the four day spending spree weekend, leading some analysts to conclude that the economic reality .

In that scenario it’s economists that are experiencing the reality gap by taking indicators like stock market performance and corporate revenues over “on the ground” measures like consumer spending and confidence indices. But is this really the right place to look, or should retailers be taking a good long look in the mirror for stretching the holiday season start line to breaking point?

Black Friday Fatigue” is what the New York Times chose to label this year’s spending, and only their choice of day might be in question. 

http://gty.im/452458553

 

Think about how the holiday discounts applied to your inbox… if you’re anything like us, you started to see special offers well before Thanksgiving.

Add to that the controversy over physical store opening hours creeping into Thanksgiving day, preventing some employees spending it at home with their families as is traditional. Add again the extension of Cyber Monday to Cyber Week (and let’s face it, that’s not where the ads stop), and we have two full weeks of holiday shopping blitzkrieg… that’s enough to tire even the most festive family shopper you can think of.

The reality for retailers seems to be that sales are simply be too common now for their own good. Deep discounts are de rigeur and engaging in price warfare could simply spark a race to the bottom, which will only benefit those with the deepest of pockets.

If that’s not you, what can you do to cut through  battle of the bargain basement?

For many it’s likely to be better to focus on another area of holidays or pushing another area of competitive advantage, such as service, presentation, quality, or even geography. There’s a trend towards buying locally and ethically in recent years; can your business position itself along those lines? Or perhaps your product is suited to getting the orders in early, or even a last-minute local bonus that consumers can pick up as an additional gift.

The goal for most businesses is to stand out from the crowd, which in many ways makes the rush to join the Black Friday/Cyber Week madness exactly that: mad.

Rather than compete with everyone at exactly the same time, on price alone, what can you do to pick your spot, reach customers clearly and avoid getting caught in the retail stampede?

We’d love to hear your ideas here in the comments or on Facebook and Twitter.

 

December 3, 2014

As we bounce back from a long weekend of food, family and frantic shopping activity – not so much of the latter, as we’ll explain – it’s time to refocus on what’s happening in and around your supply chain.

Before we hit another holiday break, take some time to catch up on what happened in November and how it will affect your competitive landscape for the coming year.

Freght line truck holiday lights

Last Month in Logistics

From industry trends and reports to policy news and political views, here’s what happened in November that you need to know about:

  • Black Friday? Bleak Friday, really, as retailers report an 11% drop in sales revenue on this important post-Thanksgiving celebration of deep discount sales. Cyber Monday, meanwhile, rose only 8% on last year’s figures, which also fell short of expectations. (except for Wal-Mart, who came up smelling of roses.) The reality failed to live up to the hype of the holiday, following widespread predictions of a record-breaking start to the season.
  • Following final negotiations during November, Minnesota-based logistics provider C.H. Robinson announced on Monday that it will acquire the site freightquote.com for $365 million. The acquisition is big news for a company not typically associated with such activity, and marks further consolidation in the logistics industry as a whole.
  • Labor talks continued in Los Angeles, as longshore workers tried to thrash out a replacement for their previous contract that expired in July. In the absence of a satisfactory outcome to date, work slowdowns and the threat of strikes have hampered the ability of L.A. and Long Beach to move cargo from the busiest port area in North America.
  • U.S. rail freight traffic finally decreased during the closing weeks of November, but only by a minuscule 0.2%. The dip is noticeable as it ends a prolonged period of consistent weekly growth. Reflecting that consistent growth, total  North American volume for the year is up 5.4% compared to the same year-to-date figure from 2013.
  • U.S. trucking made some ground in reversing a September decline in tonnage, rising 0.5% for October according to the American Trucking Association. As with rail freight, the overall year-on-year growth is proving a positive upswing for road transportation analysts.
  • Despite lower-than-expected Cyber Monday numbers mentioned above, shippers are still anticipating a testing delivery season. In line with original plans to beef up their workforce, FedEx announced that it expects December 16th to be its busiest ever day in some parts of the world.

 

For more than just a monthly updates, connect with Capacity on FacebookGoogle+, and Twitter. You can also contact us with your details if you have specific questions about managing your supply chain operations.

December 3, 2013

Rarely a company to fly far from the news, Amazon hit the headlines again over the weekend, this time with the revelation of Prime Air delivery drones to CBS’s ’60 Minutes’.

Setting aside the (purely coincidental, of course) publicity received just in time for a competitive Cyber Monday and the sheer weight of regulatory/privacy/Skynet concerns, the story has set the social web alight with alternative ideas for delivery drones. Continue reading Five Fantastic Alternatives to Amazon’s Delivery Drones