Industry TalkRegular Industry Development Updates, Opinions and Talking Points relating to Manufacturing, the Supply Chain and Logistics.
Retail Shipments Spike as Amazon Prime Day Drives a Surge in Business
Amazon Prime Day 2020, which took place on October 13 and 14, was a huge success by many metrics. The annual 48-hour sales event surpassed JP Morgan’s forecasted number of 42% YOY growth by 3.2 percentage points, and registered record-breaking sales of $10.4 billion. An estimated $3.5 billion of that went to small and medium-sized businesses throughout the world – a 60% increase over last year’s sales.
This surge in sales, and a corresponding spike in shipments, are evident in FourKites’ platform data, as well. While the overall volume of shipments in the FourKites platform has remained fairly stable over the last month, we saw a significant jump in retail shipments during Prime Day 2020. Total retail shipments saw a 10% increase during Prime week, compared to the previous week. This is likely due to an increase in volume from independent third-party sellers – the ~2.3 million small and medium-sized businesses that make up Amazon’s online marketplace. Specifically, we saw the largest spikes in the electronics, apparel and household goods segments.
Coinciding with the increase in retail shipments over Amazon Prime Day, it is interesting to note that dwell time was at its lowest. And as with total shipment volumes, here too, we noted a distinction between retail and aggregate platform trends. For the week of October 11 – corresponding with Amazon Prime Day – dwell time for retail shipments was down 19% from the week prior.
During the week of October 4, dwell time for retail shipments was 15% higher than average dwell across all shipments in the FourKites platform. In the following week, however – coinciding with Amazon Prime Day – average dwell time for retail shipments dipped 18%, and clocked in a couple percentage points lower than average dwell time across our platform. In the two weeks following Amazon Prime Day, average dwell time for retail shipments returned to its previous value, increasing 9% during the week of October 18.
Aggressive management of dwell time and its impact on supply chain operations is likely best explained through the lens of better planning and optimization. The increased demands posed by Amazon Prime Day came as no surprise; it’s one of the most popular shopping events of the year, and as consumers – who have already demonstrated their growing affinity for e-commerce – prepare for an earlier holiday shopping season, shippers, 3PLs, carriers and others in the logistics space braced themselves accordingly.
We’ve written extensively about how supply chain stakeholders can leverage real-time supply chain visibility data and analytics to better prepare for and manage through even the busiest of times. Better planning, prepaid shipment visibility and more robust collaborative planning – both on the supply-side and on the demand-side – are all contributing to a supply chain that is more capable of handling variability in sales and shipment volumes. Moreover, by using live transit data and predictive ETAs, integrated with yard and facilities management capabilities, receivers are empowered to accelerate gate-in and gate-out processes, shorten on-site time for drivers and optimize inventory across multiple sites, thereby reducing dwell times and increasing operating margins in the process.