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Black Friday: Mastering exuberant order volumes efficiently even at peak times

In e-commerce, with its exponential growth rates that further explode on global promotion days such as "Black Friday," it is a matter of serving increasingly demanding consumer wishes quickly, efficiently, and at the highest level of service. To be able to do this and remain competitive, the need for automation with reliable technological and digital innovations is increasing. SSI SCHAEFER supports this transformation as an intralogistics partner with decades of experience and a very broad product range - from the SSI LOGIMAT® vertical lift module to AGVs (automated guided vehicles) and SSI Carrier overhead conveyor technology to the high-performance 3D-MATRIX Solution® automated warehouse and WAMAS® logistics software.

The new shopping reality - challenge and immense opportunity at the same time

Deals and bargains as far as the eye can see - the shopping weekend between the "Black Friday" and "Cyber Monday" promotion days has been one of the strongest sales periods in e-commerce for years. The online giant Amazon, for example, announced a 60 percent increase in sales to 4.8 billion dollars on "Black Friday" 2020, whereby the record sum was generated exclusively by the companies associated with the trading platform - not including the sales of Amazon's own products [1].

These figures are putting pressure on the entire retail sector: the online giants have set up structures through which customers generally receive their goods within the shortest possible time, even at peak times. Providers who want to reach and satisfy their clientele are therefore forced to keep up with the pace of the big players. In this context, the regular business of e-commerce alone presents a formidable challenge. While numerous brick-and-mortar retail stores were forced to close in the wake of the Covid19-related lockdowns, people around the world have turned to online retailing in unprecedented numbers. In addition, people are increasingly shopping online via their smartphones. According to many experts, these trends will continue after the pandemic.

E-Marketer analysts put the 2020 retail sales growth rate for global e-commerce at 27.6 percent, roughly equivalent to $4.28 trillion [2]. Shopee, one of Asia's largest online shopping platforms, recorded a 74.3 percent increase, according to Nikkei Asian Review [3], and TechCrunch cites a report from Adobe. According to the report, online sales generated in the U.S. between March 2020 and February 2021 increased by $183 billion to a total of $844 billion [4].

Specifically with a view to "Black Friday" and "Cyber Monday" 2021 in Germany, the German Retail Association (HDE) expects sales of 3.7 billion euros. This corresponds to an increase of 18 percent compared to the previous year [5].

Automate fulfillment step by step and participate in the boom

Success in e-commerce requires de facto immediate availability of goods in conjunction with maximum delivery quality and reliability. In view of the widespread enthusiasm for digital shopping tours that has been kindled, the associated performance promise, which must endure even in peak times, can today only be delivered on the basis of implemented, individually tailored multi- or omni-channel concepts. In particular, order peaks during the course of the day and seasonal peaks, such as "Black Friday" or the Christmas business, must be handled at fulfillment level with consistently high quality.

As a specialist for manual, semi-automated and high-performance intralogistics system solutions, SSI SCHAEFER supports companies in meeting the complex requirement profile of e-commerce. Small and medium-sized companies as well as large enterprises benefit from the broad portfolio of performance modules, which are perfectly interlocked, scalable and generate maximum throughputs.

Ideal for the start are precisely combined manual and/or semi-automated modules from SSI SCHAEFER, which can be integrated and expanded with a high degree of flexibility. One way to efficiently store and pick small-sized goods is the SSI LOGIMAT® vertical lift module, which makes optimal use of the existing vertical space. In order to reduce walking distances, AGVs can be used as a supplement, the number of which can be successively increased as required and which allow a high degree of flexibility in the routes, as no rails or conveyor elements are used. Maximum storage capacity in a small footprint can also be achieved with the Picktower, a multi-level racking system for small items. If manual and partially automated modules no longer provide the required performance as the company develops, automatic storage and retrieval machines or shuttle systems from the SSI SCHAEFER portfolio are available.

In terms of performance and ergonomics, the concept of the patented 3D-MATRIX Solution® with integrated goods-to-person workstations is particularly impressive. Central components are shuttle vehicles that travel in the warehouse lanes, lifts for vertical transport and conveyor technology for the provision of goods at the picking stations. By decoupling the horizontal and vertical transports, processes are parallelized and maximum throughput rates are achieved. ABC classification of the stored goods is not required. In parallel, the retail sector is increasingly relying on robots, which are controlled by the WAMAS® logistics software and are equally suitable for the automatic handling of small parts and palletized goods. Robots have the enormous advantage that they relieve employees of monotonous and unhealthy tasks, work error-free, and work at a constant performance level.

SSI Carrier - Maximum sorting accuracy and process reliability

The pouch sorter SSI Carrier, which is designed in modular construction, is also suitable for complex requirements. An advantage especially for fashion logistics is the ability to gently and reliably transport, distribute, buffer, sort and sequence both hanging and lying goods. The SSI Carrier provides fully automated and efficient orders in different sizes and with different destinations in any combination for e-commerce and retail. Designed in modular construction, the pouch sorter is suitable for handling goods weighing up to 3 kg and achieves throughput rates of up to 10,000 load carriers per hour. As a stand-alone variant, the SSI Carrier, which also enables effective returns handling with direct re-availability, can also be used in combination with manual storage and picking applications. The entire process is intelligently and efficiently controlled by the user-friendly, standardized WAMAS® logistics software with the integrated WAMAS® Lighthouse visualization tool, taking into account the daily order load.

Comprehensive process support thanks to integrated intelligence

Just like the SSI Carrier, the 3D-MATRIX Solution unfolds its full potential when using logistics software that controls, monitors, visualizes and permanently optimizes all processes according to individual needs. Such a solution is WAMAS, a self-developed, scalable standard software, which contains the concentrated know-how of more than 1,000 software experts. WAMAS has a modular structure and is enriched with interfaces to external systems so that the software can be easily and seamlessly integrated into all existing IT landscapes. As a leading provider in the field of SAP logistics within the partnership with SWAN, SSI SCHAEFER also integrates all warehouse and picking solutions into SAP EWM (Extended Warehouse Management).

With SSI SCHAEFER, retailers have a partner at their side who supports them with growing highly flexible system solutions at a customized level of automation, turnkey from a single source and expandable at any time. These solutions help retailers keep their performance promises both in the regular e-commerce daily business as well as in peak times, such as "Black Friday". The successful customer journey, which is crucial for competitiveness, is thus also covered and ensured by intralogistics.

[1] https://www.manager-magazin.de/unternehmen/black-friday-bilanz-amazon-meldet-rekordumsatz-fuer-black-friday-wochenende-und-cyber-monday-a-9135d52b-a68b-4f39-a4d3-6b447832d5ab

[2] https://www.emarketer.com/content/global-ecommerce-update-2021

[3] https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Retail/Coronavirus-pandemic-fuels-Asia-e-commerce-boom?fbclid=IwAR1aHw9ohrnLZsMmWi7_O_h5Nae9f8DQvRZVqN3axQWlb1OuekKQwDo386E

[4] https://techcrunch.com/2021/03/15/u-s-e-commerce-on-track-for-its-first-1-trillion-year-by-2022-due-to-lasting-pandemic-impacts/

[5] https://einzelhandel.de/blackfriday

Contact Person

Sabine Märzendorfer Head of Marketing Austria Phone No.: +43 (0) 7242 491-275 Mail: sabine.maerzendorfer@ssi-schaefer.com