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Can Ecommerce Handle a Virtual Valentine's Day? | Kenco

Posted by Dan Coll

With eCommerce’s biggest peak growing smaller in shippers’ rearview mirrors and the world still largely operating from home, Valentine’s Day is next in line for its virtual debut. This year’s first “seasonal peak” is ready to take center-stage and put everything shippers learned this past holiday season to the test. But are eCommerce fulfillment centers ready for another barrage of packages after such a recent strain?

Although the new year provides a blank slate, challenges and uncertainty are likely to be reoccurring themes in 2021. And with lingering congestion from the 2020 peak season, neglected returns, and a global vaccine distribution all vying for shippers’ attention in Q1, Valentine’s Day isn’t the only fish in the supply-chain sea.

 

2020: Breaking Up is Hard to Do

While most of the world would like to have woken up on January first only to realize 2020 was a bad dream, the impacts of last year’s countless disruptions are still being felt today. Peak season’s record-setting eCommerce volumes left lingering effects (and products) throughout the supply chain that will challenge shippers and the logistics industry at large this Valentine’s Day.

Major U.S. port congestion and the inability to offload vessels housing containers of holiday products in Q4 will continue to cause lags for inbound transportation in Q1. While the peak holiday season saw gift-giving spread over the fall months and through December, Valentine’s Day’s time-sensitive nature doesn’t lend itself as well for late arrivals, adding increased consumer expectation for on-time delivery.

Rekindling the Flame with Holiday Returns

Valentine’s Day arguably has not been a top priority for shippers over the past several months, with logistics networks still digging out December’s backlogs. On top of probable lackluster planning around Cupid’s special day, shippers now find themselves directly in the midst of dealing with the returns associated with an unprecedented holiday peak.

While companies that experience their biggest peak in February – those selling candy, stuffed animals, flowers, etc. – are ready to execute on Valentine’s Day’s eCommerce surges, those that were heads down in Q4 have likely been ignoring a mountain of returns for the past 30-60 days. As consumers shift their focus to receiving refunds and credits this month, increasing the urgency for timely returns processing, simultaneously fulfilling Valentine’s Day orders may take a back seat, especially for self-fulfilling companies.

 

Not Enough Love (Read: Capacity) to Go Around

As most major providers continue to distribute multiple COVID-19 vaccines throughout logistics networks, reaching their final destinations of the population’s arms, what will this mean for other essential and non-essential goods in the supply chain? While everyone can agree with prioritizing vaccines over Valentine’s Day gifts, scarce capacity will still challenge eCommerce companies looking to deliver the love this month. With Valentine’s Day falling on a Sunday this year we recommend the following shipping cut-off times:

Shipping Cut-Off Times
(for Arrival by Valentine’s Day, Sunday, February 14)

Shipping Option

Shipping Cut-Off Time

Standard Shipping
(4-7 Bus. Days)

Monday,
February 8

3-Day Express
(3 Bus. Days)

Tuesday,
February 9

2-Day Express
(2 Bus. Days)

Wednesday,
February 10

Overnight
Express Shipping

Thursday,
February 11

Overnight
Saturday Arrival

Friday,
February 12

 

Both vaccines and typical Valentine’s Day gifts surprisingly lend themselves to similar modes of transportation. A large portion of vaccinations require cold-chain distribution and are also heavily leveraging air networks. Not only do traditional Valentine’s Day items – chocolate, flowers, edible arrangements, etc. – largely require temperature-controlled transportation, but the holiday also sees more procrastination than others, causing increases in priority shipping carried out via air networks. This all adds up to the potential for substantial impact on Valentine’s Day shipments due to tightened capacity and competing priorities.

This Valentine’s Day, like much of the past 12 months, presents the potential for challenging conditions and uncertain outcomes for eCommerce operations working overtime to maintain enjoyable customer experiences while keeping their supply chains moving. Shippers with real-time visibility into their data and across their logistics networks, coupled with proper management and support of a proven partner will ensure consumers feel the love this coming Valentine’s Day. To learn more about how your eCommerce supply chain can exceed customer expectations and unlock new growth, click here.

 

Learn More About Kenco eCommerce Solutions

 

 

Dan Coll

Written by Dan Coll

Vice President, E-commerce Fulfillment


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Kenco provides integrated logistics solutions that include distribution and fulfillment, comprehensive transportation management, material handling services, real estate management, and information technology—all engineered for Operational Excellence.