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Order Fulfillment in Review: September 2015

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In the first full month back after the summer break, it's easy to let important order fulfillment news items fall through the cracks. As peak season looms large and the slower days of summer become a distant memory, you might wonder what you've missed and how to get back up to speed.

Let our monthly roundup of all the relevant events in order fulfillment and around the world of supply chain management be your fast track to catching up with our industry.

September Fulfillment Review Sign

Here's what you need to know from September:

  • FedEx confirmed its rate increases for 2016, with the average rise coming out at 4.9%. The announcement is a reminder that shipping rates can be a complex and inflationary cost to manage. Having a fulfillment partner with preferential rate agreements is an effective way to shield your company from these annual shifts.
  • Although we're hitting peak season once again, retailers aren't feeling the spirit of the season quite as much as previous years. Hiring for the 2015 holiday's temporary positions is predicted to be much the same as last year, leaving analysts to debate whether this is due to more permanent positions in play, pessimistic demand forecasts, or simply too few workers in the seasonal employment market.
  • Reports pointed once again to the importance of omnichannel fulfillment, as different purchase and delivery options begin to overlap. Studies from GfK demonstrated that leading-edge consumers, who typically show what will be expected of retailers in the future, consider both social networks (79%) and "more-than-store" fulfillment channels (85%) important factors in their purchase decisions.
  • Chief Economist at the American Trucking Association, Bob Costello, continued to voice his concerns over excessive inventory in the supply chain, which his organization expects will keep road freight volumes down for the rest of the year. August's figures bear out this prediction, will tonnage down 0.9% in August, compared to July.
  • Rail freight remained down on 2014 figures during September, down 4.4% in terms of carload volume for the first 38 weeks of the year. Intermodal units remained up on the previous year, however, showing a 2.5% gain over that same period.
  • It's officially back to business as usual on the west coast, where the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have seen surging volumes in recent months. In the expected build-up to peak season shipping, the return to form is in stark contrast to this time last year, when the infamous labor dispute was still in full swing.
Photo by William J. Grimes This is a picture o...
Photo by William J. Grimes - UPS Truck - (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  • The UPS answer to "no one home" delivery issues angered plenty of customers last month, as Big Brown directed customers to third-party pick-up points including grocery stores and dry cleaners. Access Point is the service name, but inaccessible was the claim from customers, many of whom feel that UPS should make more attempts at home delivery before resorting to its plan B.

That's a wrap for another month. If there's anything you'd like to see on our blog or in these monthly reviews of order fulfillment news, don't hesitate to let us know!