The Supply Chain Matters blog provides our second update on what supply can management teams should expect during the now ongoing 2019 holiday fulfillment surge.

In a prior blog published on Friday, we alerted readers to the kickoff of the globe’s largest single online shopping event, China’s Singles Day Global Shopping Festival, that kicked off on the eve of Double Eleven, November 11th.

The reports are in and the headline is that this year’s event established yet another online sales record for a single continuous 24-hours of shopping. Thus, the event maintains the recognition as the globe’s single largest online shopping event. China Singles Day Logistics

Online retail platform provider Alibaba reported Singles Day revenues of 268.4 billion yuan, equating upwards of $38.3 billion in Gross Merchandise Value (GMV). That compared to last year’s total of $30.8 billion in GMV in the same 24-hour period.  

A staggering 91.2 billion yuan, upwards of $13 billion of revenue was booked in the first hour of the event, up from last year’s milestone of 69 billion yuan of revenues in the first hour. Reports indicate that a vast number of online broadcasts and “infomercials” preceded this year event promoting personal care products, consumer electronics and other products appealing to singles.  Jewelry and apparel were apparently the most popular categories of goods in demand. Upwards of 200,000 Chinese and global branded merchandise were represented this year compared with a reported 180,000 brands last year.

According to a report from Business Network CNBC, some to the top-selling goods early in the day included the 5G version of Huawei’s Mate 30 Pro smartphone along with Apple’s iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max smartphones. There were reportedly little signs of shunning U.S. brands since such goods, amid the ongoing U.S. and China trade conflicts, since U.S. goods were second in GMV value in terms of countries selling to Chinese consumers.

Alibaba had plans to make this year’s event, the largest ever, both in scope and in termed New Retail dimensions that combine online and in-store shopping experiences and bargains.

As noted in our initial Singles Day preview, logistics entities across China and other Asian nations are now swamped with parcels to be delivered, rivaling and likely exceeding Black Friday weekend volumes. China’s National Post Bureau has estimated that over 2.8 billion packages will enter logistics networks in the period spanning November 11 to the 18th. This will test recent investments by Alibaba as well as China’s logistics entities in advanced robotics, automated material handling systems enhanced by artificial intelligence.

Similar to global online order cycles, some portion of all of these parcels will be returned for various reasons, which is the test of reverse logistics and supply chain processes, namely seamless pickup, crediting and transport of merchandise returns through designated channels, including the designated seller. This area is gaining higher industry visibility. In the case of Singles Day in China, the high concentration of one-day sales volumes not only taxes parcel networks but has the potential to burden merchandise returns networks for a period after the event.

Global parcel carrier UPS recently disclosed that it expects returns to average more than one million shipments per day from December into early January, with the pace significantly increasing just prior to the holiday.

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