With the holiday season upon us, retailers everywhere are scrambling to cope with the frenzy of shopping activity. With total holiday retail sales this year predicted to reach $1 trillion, many major retail chains have already taken on seasonal workers to help manage the influx of shoppers.
By season’s end, U.S. companies expect to have hired a total of 755,000 holiday retail season temporary employees to work on retail sales floors and in warehouse fulfillment centers. Macy’s alone has made plans to hire 85,000 temporary workers for this year’s holiday season and Toys “R” Us has stated it aims to hire another 40,000.
Online Ordering is King
Of course, holiday shopping is not just limited to in-store sales. One of the biggest sectors for expected growth this season is eCommerce. According to data released by ComScore, 78 percent of the American population over the age of 15 have made an online purchase in the past year, and nearly 50 percent of all holiday sales will be made online this year.
“A strengthening economy that changes consumers’ reliance on deep discounts, a highly competitive environment, early promotions and the ability to shop 24/7 online all contributed to the shift witnessed this weekend,” said Matthew Shay, President and CEO of the National Retail Federation. “We are excited to be witnessing an evolutionary change in holiday shopping by both consumers and retailers, and expect this trend to continue in the years ahead.”
Warehousing Hiring & Drop Shipping Fulfillment
Increased online ordering has led to a run in warehouse and fulfillment worker hiring. Amazon has announced plans to increase its warehouse workforce by 10 percent at 19 distribution centers across the U.S. Of course, automation will be shaping warehouse trends this holiday season as well. Amazon has already implemented 15,000 Kiva robots across 10 of its busiest warehouses to assist in fulfillment.
Yet the boost in eCommerce isn’t driving increased warehousing to the degree one might expect. Two out of three online retailers have adopted drop shipping–where an item is shipped directly from the manufacturer to the consumer–as their primary method of order fulfillment. In fact, 84 percent of online retailers say that establishing a drop ship supplier or wholesaler relationship is the top impediment to starting and growing their business.
What Consumers Want out of Shipping
As consumers increasingly gravitate towards shopping online, shipping becomes a greater concern for retailers. Retail customers shopping online have specific things they look for in shipping options.
- 82 percent of online shoppers say free shipping is more desirable than expedited shipping
- 77 percent of shoppers want package tracking capabilities
Overall, the picture of this year’s holiday retail sales is one of growth driven by increased eCommerce innovations, shifts in warehousing and fulfillment methods, and trends in consumer desire relating to the speed and method of shipping. Through incorporating this data into seasonal business strategies, companies can position themselves to boost sales and customer retention even after the holiday season has passed.
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