For retail shopping there is a new king
It’s the most wonderful time of the year again for retailers everywhere. As some traditions endure, others are started. While online shopping has been all the rage in recent years, it has now become the norm.
Cyber Monday was a term invented about a decade ago to give Internet shopping a brand similar to Black Friday. While this year’s Cyber Monday saw a 16% jump from the previous year with shoppers spending over $3 billion, according to the Adobe Digital Index, the real news is that Cyber Monday is actually passé. It didn’t stand out that much more than the previous three days following Thanksgiving. In fact, for the first time, online shopping surpassed the (break out in a full sweat because I want to ram into every cart that stops in front of me) brick and mortar shopping during that time frame. My wife and kids have told me that I’m not an ideal companion to go shopping with.
Apparently, staying at home and shopping on your PC, tablet, or phone doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be waiting in line. Target.com saw such an incredible response to its Cyber Monday deals that it wasn’t able to keep up. The volume of traffic doubled the site’s previous record set three days prior. Some visitors received the following message:
According to ChannelAdvisor, Amazon continues to be our fave for online shopping, having increased by 21% over its 2014 Cyber Monday. That means that the 1 million-square-foot fulfillment center in Kenosha was busy, busy, busy. While operations started some time ago, the grand opening for this colossus that employs more than 2,000 workers was just last October. Take a look at this video to get an idea of the size, scope, and complexity of this operation.
It is breathtaking to think of the systems that have been put in place to process and “fulfill” consumers’ desires within a day or days. If you didn’t watch the video, shame on you. If you did, you would have heard the site’s general manager, Brian Urkiel, explain, “We're able to leverage 20 years of learning, algorithms, technology, into this type of fulfillment center.”
As impressive as what goes on inside this fulfillment center is, it is also incredible the promises Amazon is able to keep to gift givers and receivers all around the world (they ship to 185 different countries) once the package leaves the facility.
That is where other amazing companies like UPS and FedEx take over. Their ability to “Synchronize the World of Commerce” as UPS brands it, requires juggling over-the-road shipping with air, rail, and waterborne freight. Here is one more video that will give you a glimpse of what that means.
In the spirit of “whatever you can do, I can do better,” Amazon is contemplating taking over direct responsibility for the entire process. According to Baird, the company is considering creating its own logistics company to ship its packages and perhaps compete with UPS, FedEx, and the U.S. Postal Service. Control freaks? Perhaps. Maybe they just see a great business opportunity, but in the end aren’t we all control freaks if we have the means?
One of the things that these companies don’t have complete control over is the transportation infrastructure upon which they are directing their intricate symphonies. Amazon chose to perch its fulfillment center on the newly reconstructed and widened I-94 in Kenosha, but that, of course is only the beginning of the journey for the gads of outgoing packages.
So, here’s to wishing that, however they go, your gifts reach their destinations on time and are cherished — and, more importantly, that you safely reach your holiday destinations to share time with friends and family.
Click here to sign up for the free IB ezine – your twice-weekly resource for local business news, analysis, voices, and the names you need to know. If you are not already a subscriber to In Business magazine, be sure to sign up for our monthly print edition here.