Holiday shopping trends and what they mean for your warehouse

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Every shopping trend and economic development has implications for retail packaging. Especially now that so much buying and selling is done online and through the mail, wholesalers, retail store owners and everyone connected to them needs to be up to speed. Now that we are hot on the heels of the undisputed peak of the retail season – from Black Friday through Christmas – many warehouse operators and shipping professionals are implementing new tactics and strategies to adapt to the needs of shoppers in 2017.

Headline holiday predictions

The story of holiday shopping in 2017 is speed. Blockbuster sales and enticing new products were rolled out well in advance of the traditional start of the year-end rush, Black Friday. In fact, according to consumer data provider Cardlytics, fewer people are expected to pack stores the night of Thanksgiving in search of Black Friday deals this year. That continues a trend set in 2016, when Black Friday spending as a percentage of total holiday season revenue fell over the previous year.

Yet another study from Sociomantic Labs seems to confirm these findings: Sales in the week leading up to Black Friday saw a 23 percent jump in 2016, with further growth expected this year. Adding to the evidence that consumers have grown tired of the post-Thanksgiving spectacle, Adobe estimated that e-commerce sales on the preceding Monday (known as Cyber Monday) will surpass $100 billion this year, making it the single biggest day in American retail history.

With so much riding on retail performance in 2017, particularly e-commerce merchants and distributors, those providers will in turn be relying on packaging solutions that stand up to the challenge. To make sure this season is just as much of a smash hit as analysts are expecting, logistics professionals and e-commerce supply chain leaders need to prioritize practicality in packaging and shipping strategy.

Primary concern: Inventory

The online economy lives and dies by its inventory. Too little of it leaves customers upset and causing operations to grind to a halt, while too much of it leads to balance sheet irregularities. But product inventory isn't the only concern – logistics providers need to ensure they are well-supplied with boxes, tape, labels, void fill and other packaging materials to keep orders moving out of the door.

Along the way: Returns

Most of us consider the holidays basically wrapped up by the time Santa is done making his deliveries. But the days immediately following Christmas still involve significant work facilitating a surge in returns. As much as we fret over finding the perfect gift – and as easy as retailers make it to help out here – returns are a fact of life in e-commerce. The best retailers will retain a loyal following by making returns easy for their customers, but that requires significant investment in packaging strategy and shipping.

The payoff for all these efforts is beyond the satisfaction of completing a long day's work. When companies ace the packaging equation, during the holidays or any other time of year, they can enter the new year confident and ready to enjoy continued success. For advice on how to make your packaging strategy the best it can be, reach out to Pregis.