Since I’ve entered the supply chain industry, focusing in e-commerce fulfillment, I’ve dreaded Black Friday. Actually, I did everything in my power to avoid belligerent crowds, disheveled stores, and discourteous employees. There are many origins of the history, but I most agree with “Black Friday” indicating the point at which retailers begin to turn a profit, or become “in the black.” It is the day after Thanksgiving and has been described as the busiest shopping day of the year. My entire life I never paid attention to the hoopla surrounding the culture of Black Friday, but as much as I dislike Black Friday, there is something worse…Cyber Monday.
Cyber Monday is the first Monday after the long Thanksgiving Weekend and people are feeling fat and happy. They’ve kicked off their holiday season with their families, but now have to be back at work. So what’s the best thing to do when you’re at work and still recovering from the weekend’s food coma? Shirk…and shop all the online deals at your cubicle. In 2010, comScore reported that consumers spent $1.028 Billion online on Cyber Monday (excluding travel, 2009: $887M), leading to the highest spending day of 2010. The combination of Black Friday and Cyber Monday kickoff the holiday shopping season; however, this time has a whole new meaning to me. This is game time.
At Urban’s Reno Fulfillment Center, we call this “Peak Season” and last year, in literally over a few hours, we saw an incredible increase in demand. The orders poured in and it never stopped. We experienced the high class problem of not being able to keep up with ongoing demand; normal 40-hour weeks became non-existent, and overtime the norm. As a new facility, and with new technology, our processes and equipment hadn’t been proven to operate with high volume. We struggled to meet service level agreements due to unforeseen processing errors and inadequate support on our technologies. Heck, it seemed the building was feeling our pain as improperly installed skylights leaked during torrential rains. Bottom line, I felt unprepared and the teams operated by the seat of their pants. Thankfully, we were able to overcome our woes through simple hard work, determination, and unfaltering effort from everyone within the building.
This year will be different. I strongly feel I am a subject matter expert with our Warehouse Control System as well the Warehouse Management System. I have already leveraged this knowledge to improve our current processes, but I also know we are nowhere near an optimized operating plan. Individually, associates on the floor have incredible production, but it is my responsibility to ensure the team as a whole operates efficiently and effectively. I very much still dread Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Peak Season, but in 2013, we’ll undoubtedly showcase our talent through our performance.
What do you think? Please share your thoughts about Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the comment section below.