More than half of U.S. supply chain practitioners (52%) have optimistic predictions for peak season shopping volumes, saying they expect e-commerce sales this winter to be higher in 2023 than 2022, according to an industry survey from third-party logistics (3PL) provider Kenco.
Despite that busy holiday forecast, 60% of respondents also said they have concerns that a “Covid hangover” is still impacting their supply chains. Specifically, nearly 30% of practitioners selected managing inventory concerns as their biggest concern heading into the 2023 peak season, followed by worries about customer dissatisfaction (23%) and finding suitable seasonal staff (21%).
To prepare their operations for peak season, 35% of practitioners have implemented new technology, including solutions addressing inventory visibility (42%), shipping efficiencies (38%), and e-commerce ordering (33%). Additionally, more than one third (35%) of practitioners have explored AI for their operations to manage everyday processes, and 73% of those respondents use AI to address inventory tracking.
“As we look forward to a successful holiday shopping season, eCommerce supply chain leaders should already have plans to head off inventory and staffing issues now,” Felix Vicknair, vice president of supply chain solutions at Kenco, said in a release. “By preparing for potential peak seasons rushes, employee illnesses and vacations and more, leaders are better positioned to meet their customers’ expectations, and having the right logistics technology in place is key.”
Practitioners also had ideas about how to flatten the curve of peak season and spread out consumer spending. Some (38%) have encouraged additional sales events outside of Black Friday (38%), and others (34%) have implemented seasonal price matching on products.
“By digging into consumers’ spending habits and shipping expectations, industry professionals can encourage shoppers to spread out their spending, accept longer shipping times and lighten the logistics load this holiday season,” said Vicknair.
The results came from Cahttanooga-based Kenco’s “Annual Supply Chain Survey,” which polled 125 supply chain practitioners.