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Order Fulfillment in Review: November 2016

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As workers headed off for the Thanksgiving break, fulfillment crews started to shift into high gear for the holiday rush. For the retail sector and those of us who supply them, this really is the business end of peak season.

If you're in the industry it's likely you've been too busy to think, let alone put your feet up to peruse the supply chain headlines. Whatever you missed in November, we have the monthly round-up that will get you all caught up!

november 2016 fulfillment review

Order Fulfillment Review: November 2016

Here are all the important news and views you might have missed during a hectic November:

  1. Black Friday and Cyber Monday dominated the month's retail and fulfillment headlines, first by anticipating how confident consumers would be after a surprising US election result, then by analyzing their purchasing habits in real-time. An extra 10 million people shopped online over the holiday weekend, leaving retailers who prioritized e-commerce offers feeling confident going into Cyber Week (or should that be "Cyber Season"?)
  2. All of those holiday packages don't ship themselves, of course. Hiring for the holidays added another 8,900 jobs to our sector as parcel carriers and warehouse operators geared up for their biggest month. That follows strong payroll additions in October and keeps the industry on course to contribute around 50,000 new positions to the economy in 2016.
  3. Rail freight volumes continued to edge down in November, although election results brought hope for the future. To date 2016 carload traffic is down 9.2%, but the potential revival of coal mining has left railroad operators with some cause for optimism in 2017.
  4. The American Trucking Association (ATA) announced a slight decline in its most recent monthly tonnage figures, but its outlook heading into 2017 remains positive. The 0.3% drop reported is considered negligible and is likely to represent the bottom of the current tonnage cycle, according to the ATA's Chief Economist Bob Costello.
  5. Just ahead of the holiday weekend, we celebrated our own major milestone. As of mid-November, Capacity has processed more than 10 million orders. We've come a long way since the early days of last-minute order rushes and sleepless nights on the office floor!
  6. Although mail volumes are declining, all of those online orders we're placing are proving to be a big help to the United States Postal Service (USPS). The agency reported a 15.8% increase in its shipping and package business for the first three quarters of 2016, with that number only likely to grow as we enter peak season.
  7. You'd think that all those folks who get their holiday shopping done early online would be a little more relaxed about delivery dates, right? Wrong. According to a survey conducted by Voxware Inc. last month, consumers who complete more than 75% of their holiday purchases on or before Cyber Monday are most likely to demand at least two-day shipping.  Only 30% of those who wait longer have those same high expectations.
  8. We've talked about pizza brands heading the drone delivery race in recent months, but it doesn't always have to be about tech. Domino's in Japan is turning to a more traditional mode of seasonal transport, pioneering pizza delivery by reindeer!

That's all for the penultimate month of the year.

Join us for a full end-of-year round up later this month and keep an eye out for our supply chain predictions for 2017.