As we pen this Supply Chain Matters commentary on Cyber Monday, there is building evidence that retail shoppers have made a strong preference for online vs. physical store shopping this past weekend. The implication is that B2C focused logistics and parcel carriers will indeed experience increased volumes of activity during the current 2015 holiday surge.
Data from multiple sources reinforce consumer’s increased preference for online shopping leading up to and including the Thanksgiving and Black Friday shopping events. Adobe Systems indicated that consumers spent an estimated $4.45 billion in online activity for both the Thanksgiving and Black Friday period, an increase of 14 percent from the comparable 2014 period. Adobe’s database includes tracking across 4500 U.S. sites. Adobe further indicated that more than half of the Black Friday online activity originated in mobile devices. The trend toward more mobile based devices was reinforced by IBM, which reported that mobile devices accounted for 57 percent of online activity.
Global media analytics company comScore Inc. reported desktop origin online sales the for the holiday season-to-date, as $23.4 billion, a 5 percent increase from the comparable 2014 period. Desktop online sales during Thanksgiving were reported as slightly over $1 billion, a 9 percent increase, while online sales for Black Friday were noted as $1.65 billion, a 10 percent increase over 2014. Shopper-Trak, which utilizes cameras to monitor physical shopping activity, indicated that U.S. shoppers spent an estimated $12.1 billion at brick and mortar stores during the two holidays, a decline from last year’s activity.
A National Retail Federation (NRF) survey conducted yesterday (Sunday) reinforced that an estimated 103 million shoppers elected online shopping while 102 million elected shopping in physical stores.
The trend thus far should not be a surprise since many retailers have influenced their merchandise promotions to favor online activity. As an example, Wal-Mart reportedly posted a majority of its door buster promotions online, before offering them in physical stores. Similarly, other traditional retailers placed more emphasis on online promotions, offering pick-up in-store or direct free shipping options to consumers. Retailers demonstrated aggressive promotions as-well and offered them towards the beginning of last week.
The open question is obviously how online volumes transpire for the remaining holiday period in December, and whether total holiday purchase activity exceeds that of last year. As we indicated in an earlier commentary, shopper sentiment survey data this year indicated that consumers would elect to perform the bulk of their holiday purchases by this weekend. The will be more headlines in the days to come and supply chain teams need to exercise diligence in the assumptions and time period of reported data. The final analysis obviously comes at the conclusion of this year’s surge.
In most cases, supply chain teams should now have fresh data indicating where consumer demand and specific hot categories reside. Inventory adjustments can likely be predicated toward more emphasis on online channel fulfillment.
On the logistics front, parcel delivery networks are now surged to their maximum point as last weekend’s and todays online purchases make their way to consumers. We anticipate that next week, data from FedEx, UPS and other providers should reinforce the increased shift toward online shopping.