Holiday shopping behavior takes peak season to a new level.

Go back five years in time and think about how you did your shopping. Now compare it to your purchasing habits today. No industry has ever changed so dramatically as retail after the introduction of e-commerce. Stores are open 24/7, both online and off, with consumers who are ready to shop.

This new type of retailing influences fulfillment, as customers expect secure shopping, fast deliveries, smooth returns, and quality customer service – no matter if they do their purchasing online or off. Fulfillment centers operating within retail can meet these demands by optimizing distribution. 

In 2019, the e-commerce market grew by 4.4%, resulting in a market volume of $3.8 trillion, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). The NRF states that this trend will continue in the future, and the data collected becomes more and more critical to understand and analyze. This deep-dive analysis prepares retail to stock the right items and avoids past mistakes. As for Black Friday in North America, estimated figures of 114.6 million shoppers will wake up early on Friday morning and either drive or open a browser window, which equates to 69 percent of overall consumers. As the number of orders increase, so does the pressure for peak fulfillment. At SSI SCHAEFER, our experts believe that many fulfillment centers of the past may not be able to handle today’s peak volumes -- especially with automation systems and warehouse management software from decades past. As e-commerce continues to grow, the number of orders during Black Friday and holiday sales continue to climb. Both retail and manufacturers may need to build new facilities or retrofit existing automation systems to prepare for this continued trend. Knowing that each company requires a unique solution, our experts work closely with retailers and manufacturers throughout the entire process. Our dedicated team will get to know your retail or wholesale strategy, engineer a solution that meets your requirements, and prepare your automation solution to scale as business grows.

Experienced automation specialists can monitor processes and identify bottlenecks within any current fulfillment center. Insufficient storage space, lack of automated systems, or inadequate warehouse management software are only a few ways the SSI SCHAEFER team can help. And one simple but important detail, which is also often forgotten during peak season, is the speed of incoming goods. The faster goods are stored the sooner goods can ship. To speed up the delivery and increase the capacity, many companies rely on automated storage and retrieval solutions. Compared to manual picking processes, automation combined with a Goods-to-Person workstation achieves a pick rate improvement of up to 1,000 picks per hour while reducing headcount. This overall automated solution increases fulfillment accuracy and streamlines inventory placement to increase throughput. SSI SCHAEFER also helps with the return process and minimizes the time associated with reallocating returned inventory. With workstations designed for processing return goods, warehouse personnel process these items quickly. With WAMAS, warehouse management software from SSI SCHAEFER, non-damaged items can go directly back into inventory for quick resell.

Modern storage and retrieval machines (SRMs), shuttle systems, sortation systems, and automated guided vehicles all play a role in an automated warehouse. Each component works together for an overall complete and comprehensive solution. Warehouse management software orchestrates everything in real-time and provides the highest possible throughput. Together they can efficiently place or remove items, speed up transportation and storage processes as well as increase productivity. Moreover, our WMS allows for custom integrations into any ERP system or other third party or custom-built software solution.

There are still other ways to prepare storage facilities for peak seasons, but most often, retailers have to hire additional employees, spending more money to fulfill holiday orders. Automation systems are real game-changer as they help handle priority orders, including same-day shipping or loyalty reward status. In addition, return processes are easy and quick, as warehouse management software provides an array of tools for handling both incoming goods and customer delivers.

The peak holiday season brings a lot of opportunities and benefits for business. As for SSI SCHAEFER, a comprehensive automated solution combined with a robust WMS can provide a custom and efficient solution to meet high demands.