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Order Fulfillment in Review: November 2015

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If all that Thanksgiving turkey and leftovers have made the past week something of a food coma-induced blur, take comfort in the knowledge that you haven't missed any important news from around the supply chain. That's because we've gathered all of the headlines together for you, provided here as usual in our monthly round-up of order fulfillment in review and analysis of logistics industry news. 

Order Fulfillment in Review: November 2015

Before the holidays hit, it was a busy month for order fulfillment. Seasonal shopping and holiday ecommerce obviously sprang into action, but there were other important announcements to go along with the focus on ringing cash registers.

holiday freight train for fulfillment in review item
Image Credit: Teles

Here are some of the most notable moments we picked out:

  1. The Cass Freight Index released its numbers for October and it wasn't good news, with year-on-year shipments down 5.3 percent. That level puts it lower than each of the preceding three years and reflects some of the pull back that we have seen this year as China's economy adjusts to slower growth and North America continues to tread carefully out of the economic downturn.
  2. Volumes jumped on US roads again in October, according to the American Trucking Association's numbers released last week. Despite a slight decline in September, tonnage on the country's highways increased by a healthy 1.9% in October. ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello sounded a note of caution, however, reminding analysts that "overall tonnage has been pretty flat this year," and raising question marks over the high levels of inventory being held up and down the supply chain.
  3. Volume news was less positive on the other side of the tracks, as US railroads posted falling numbers on both the weekly and year-to-date figures. The key figure is the latter, which points to a 4.9% drop for the first 46 weeks of the year, when compared to the same period in 2014, which is the equivalent of roughly 650,000 fewer carloads for 2015.
  4. The Panama Canal expansion project continued its reputation for costly overruns, with leaky locks the culprit behind the latest delay. Originally scheduled for completion last year, to coincide with the waterway's 100th anniversary, the capacity doubling project will now face a race to be open by its April 2016 target. Having been pushed back several times already, and with any number of stakeholders eager to start shipping vast amounts of cargo through its wider channels, the latest setback will be closely watched by the global supply chain community.
  5. Warehousing might be considered a "behind-the-scenes" activity for most people, but it's currently catching the eye of investors on a global scale. NREI reports that the U.S. industrial market has seen a surge of foreign capital flowing into the country, driven by the robust North American economy and increasing demands of consumers for rapid ecommerce order fulfillment.
  6. Early indications are that Cyber Monday continues to go from strength to strength, with digital analysts Adobe predicting a record sales day of almost $3 billion spent online. That puts Cyber Monday at  around 37% of the total Thanksgiving weekend spend - $11 billion - even before the extension into "Cyber Week" has a chance to add to that total.

If there's anything we missed, or anything you'd like to see us cover on a more regular basis as we put fulfillment in review every month - don't hesitate to let us know by e-mail or on Facebook and Twitter.

Try to keep tabs on all our supply chain updates during December but, if you can't, you know Capacity will be there at the start of January to round up the end of the year.

Happy Holidays!