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Order Fulfillment in Review: January 2016

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It's a new month once again, which means another opportunity to look back at the world of order fulfillment and remind ourselves of what happened up and down the supply chain as 2016 got underway. Naturally enough, much of the early coverage consisted of reviewing the previous year. (Heck, we did much the same with a look back at our most popular articles of 2015!) There was also plenty to look forward to, so let's dive right into the mix of news and reviews that surface during January. Capacity Approach Road

Order Fulfillment Review: January 2016

Here are the stories, news, and views that made the headlines in our industry last month:
  • Winter storm Jonas hit the East Coast hard, leaving behind it a big dig to get things moving again. Shipping and transportation services were inevitably disrupted, though perhaps not as badly as they would have been had Jonas arrived during the working week. Even with the weekend arrival, however, the storm will cost the economy somewhere between $500-800 million.
CNN Black Friday Report
  • As we focus on ecommerce order fulfillment this month, last month's analysis of a busy holiday season show both sides of booming online sales. While Amazon led the ecommerce driven sales surge, which saw a 12.1% increase in revenue over the same period in 2014, it's also notable that the company's shipping costs went up by 37%. Even for Amazon, that's no small number. And for companies who have to keep a close eye on every fulfillment expense? It's a reminder that every sales spike must be assessed not only against the value of the product, but the cost of getting it into the arms of your customer.
  • The Baltic Dry Index, a key industry measure considered to be a bellwether for international trade, continued to fall and hit its lowest levels ever in January. While it refers primarily to shipments of raw materials, the index is carefully analyzed by economists as a leading indicator of future prosperity or, as some predict in the current climate, significant problems ahead.
  • The American Trucking Association (ATA) reported a slight increase in tonnage of 1% for the final month of 2015, as it reflected on a mixed year for road haulage. Things were even less attractive for the country's rail freight providers, as the Association of American Railroads (AAR) continued to report double-digit year-on-year volume decreases.
  • Heading back online, tablets and smartphones were confirmed as playing a major role in the aforementioned holiday sales boom. Mobile ecommerce accounted for almost one-third of online purchases in November and December 2015, according to marketing analytics firm Custora, making the "small screen" an increasingly large consideration for retailers trying to win over tech-savvy shoppers.
  • If Google says something is going to happen, it's probably wise to listen, which is why a prediction of urban drone delivery within a few years pricked up ears around the tech sector and supply chain last month. Although the expectation is heavily contingent upon how federal regulations shape up on the issue, recent advances has created an environment in which "we're making huge progress," according to Google X executive Dave Vos.

  Which headlines from our industry caught your eye last month? We're always eager to hear what our readers are interested in and what you want to see more of, so don't hesitate to contact us on fulfillmentdelivered@capacityllc.com. Alternatively, visit us on Facebook, Twitter, or Linkedin to leave your feedback.