Archives for December 2013

Late Christmas Deliveries = Social Media Backlash

By Steve Simmerman | 12/26/2013 | 8:47 AM

Didn't get what you wanted for Christmas due to a late or missed delivery?  It seems lots of people turned to social media to lash out and blame UPS and FedEx.  According to a story by NBC, online spending jumped 9 percent, to $37.8 billion, between Nov. 1 and Dec. 15.  A FedEx spokesperson said they handled 275 million shipments between Thanksgiving and Christmas. FedEx said the volume of air shipments exceeded the capacity of their network, while UPS called it an "extraordinary event". The story went on to say that Amazon apologized to customers with regard to the UPS "failure" in a Christmas morning email and offered various incentives to offset customer's bad feelings.

Nonetheless, disappointed customers turned to social media including the Facebook pages of both carriers as well as Twitter to voice their opinions. It's true that weather did affect delivery capabilities in some parts of the country, a late November Thanksgiving shortened the shopping season and certain shoppers will always procrastinate. But what lessons can we all learn from this "extraordinary event"?

  • Can the network ever handle surges like this?
  • Should online stores incent customers to buy (and ship) sooner rather than procrastinate?

It's hard to say, but one thing is for sure. Online shopping will continue to increase, shoppers will always procrastinate, delivery expectations for online purchases will not subside and social media outlets will continue to be the voice of frustrated shoppers.

And just when you think we are all past the hurdle of buying, picking orders, packing orders and delivering orders in the race toward Christmas joy, many of us in logistics and the world of online shopping now get to prepare for what will likely be another surge in the form of returns. It is a viscous cycle, but the good news is that we have a year to prepare for the 2014 holiday shopping season - we'll see if anything changes this time next year.



Black Friday, iBeacon, Connected Glass and more holiday technology

By Steve Simmerman | 12/10/2013 | 7:19 AM

It's hard to be believe that Gray Thursday and Black Friday have passed, but the competition among those in retail for consumer dollars is getting even more interesting.  There have been some fascinating developments in technology that several retailers are experimenting with.  Here are some new technologies being piloted:

"Connected glass" by EBay - EBay is piloting 10' x 10' interactive touchable screens where shoppers can browse a variety of products, enter their phone number and get a text message to complete the transaction through their smartphone.  These interactive shopping devices are being used where a new store is being built vs the traditional boarded up window with a sign on it.  EBay also plans to use these connected glass panels inside existing stores.  Think of the possibilities of the 'store within a store' where vendors can have their own connected glass shops within a larger store!

iBeacon by Apple - Apple is currently running this new iOS 7 technology across all 245 of their U.S. stores.  Small Bluetooth transmitters are inconspicuously placed under store shelves and 'sense' when a shopper is nearby and thus sends messages to the shopper alerting them of special offers, etc.  Using Bluetooth provides more precise location information than currently available with GPS.  Retailers such as Macy's are also piloting programs using iBeacon in partnership with Shopkick.  I expect app developers out there to open a whole new world of location based shopping apps.  Major League Baseball (MLB) is also piloting the technology to enhance the fan game day experience.

One last technology related retail experiment happening is what Google Winter Wonderlab is providing to shoppers are various malls.  Google is setting up seasonal stores in the mall to give shoppers a really fun (and focused) shopping experience where they can look and play with the latest gadgets and software sold by google.  The Winter Wonderlab also includes a life-sized snow globe where you can create your own video!

Really innovative and fascinating concepts that are sure to expand and lead to even bigger and better technological advancements and shopping experiences for all of us.  "E" commerce is truly on a torrid pace - not just the fulfillment side of the retail supply chain, but the shopping experience as well.

Happy Holidays!


The opinions expressed herein are those solely of the participants, and do not necessarily represent the views of Agile Business Media, LLC., its properties or its employees.


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