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Amazon Prime Day rings in early holiday shopping season
by Paul Davenport Paul Davenport on

While October may seem like an early start to the holiday shopping season, timing is hardly the most unusual thing about this year’s festivities, as the global pandemic effectively shelves the traditional “Black Friday” boon for brick-and-mortar retailers in favor of earlier digital flash sales.

The combination of Amazon’s early Prime Day event along with an increase in early online shopping is projected to shift up to $6 billion of November’s Cyber Week volume in the U.S. (and $26 billion globally) to October, according to research from Salesforce. Continued social distancing in response to the global pandemic has compounded with a growing appetite for digital shopping pre-pandemic, the research finds, to produce a 30 percent year-over-year growth in overall global digital commerce this fall.

Total digital sales are expected to reach a new record high of $940 billion globally and $221 billion in the U.S this holiday season, Salesforce anticipates, while the surge will likely result in an acceleration of digital commerce to 18 percent of total retail sales globally and 30 percent of total retail sales in the U.S. for 2020.

“Digital commerce won’t fully compensate for the projected brick-and-mortar slowdown, but it will be critical to help retailers close the gap this holiday season,” said Rob Garf, Salesforce’s VP of Industry Insights for Retail and Consumer Goods. “Businesses that succeed during the holidays will use everything at their disposal to make shopping easy and safe, including convenient digital ordering, creative and efficient fulfillment, and responsive customer service.”

Amazon, for instance, has moved it’s Prime Day sales event to mid-October from it’s traditional July perch to help align with holiday shopping and cater to improved buyer confidence as consumers adjust to the “new normal.”

But the jump in digital holiday shopping will come with growing pains, Salesforce predicts, as the overwhelming volume of purchases is likely to cause upwards of 5 percent—or $700 million worth—of purchases to miss their expected delivery timelines. Similarly, approximately $40 billion of COVID-19 delivery surcharges are expected between November 15 and January 15 globally, as shippers prepare for a massive shift to digital commerce that will put an unprecedented strain on resources.

So American families that are used to trekking to the mall at midnight on Thanksgiving every year will likely be sitting tight, as most of their holiday gift orders will have already been placed come turkey day.

But the stresses on retailers to deliver will be greater than guaranteeing shipments arrive on time. Ensuring fulfillment and even placing digital orders call for a robust network of digital stakeholders to stay in lockstep, and the 2020 holiday season marks an unprecedented stress test for the industry as a whole.

Many former stores, for instance, now function primarily as remote pickup and drop off stations, if not mini fulfillment centers in their own right, as retailers do their best to optimize their physical real estate for a digital-first consumer world. To keep tabs of where a product is located, the status of orders in progress and all the stakeholders at play in the newly decentralized world of retail, network management and IT teams need to have complete visibility across their entire network footprint – from warehouses to shipping vendors to data centers supporting digital transactions.

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Filed Under: industry insights

Tags: network visibility, network management, network performance, network performance monitoring, enterprise IT, enterprise network, retail IT, retail network, retailers, retail, online retail, digital commerce, ecommerce, online shopping, holiday shopping

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