Have Yourself an Omni-Channel Christmas

Material Handling and Logistics – By now you’ve probably had more than your fill of articles and news stories about the holiday shopping-and-shipping season, and admittedly MH&L is guiltier than most when it comes to covering every supply chain angle connected to the holidays, from e-commerce to fulfillment to the latest wrinkle in last-mile delivery. We’ve told you why warehouses are getting bigger; how retailers are rolling out every trick in the omni-channel book to make sure they don’t lose any potential sales; what types of predictive technologies consumer goods companies are using to ensure they’re producing the right amount of stuff (and don’t get stuck with too much inventory on December 26); why robots are appearing in more and more DCs; and how logistics companies are enlisting seemingly any vehicle and any breathing creature to deliver goods on time for Christmas.

As the speeds of ordering, fulfillment and delivery have increased, so too has the speed of impatience. Customers have never liked waiting, of course—no doubt some caveman was disgruntled at how long it took for the first wheel to be delivered—but the extent today to which people resent any kind of delay to their immediate gratification is threatening to cast a Scroogelike pall over the whole holiday season.

So I get that keeping products moving, moving, moving is the order of the day, especially during the time of year when the balance sheets of retailers and consumer products manufacturers are at their most vulnerable make-or-break moments. And it explains why the number of same-day deliveries have tripled over the past year, according to consulting firm BRP, and why the number of deliveries through third-party services like Uber and Lyft now account for fully one-third of all retail deliveries.

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