Retail and Its Increasing Complexity

Pitney Bowes releases the results of their 2015 Holiday Shipping Survey, that discusses how “Americans plan to shop both in-stores (94 percent) and online (92 percent) this holiday season, with 94 percent of consumers planning to shop from a computer and 49 percent making purchases from a mobile device.” The survey also suggests that the peak shopping season is getting earlier each year:

  • 30 percent will shop before Thanksgiving
  • 41 percent will shop from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday
  • 26 percent will shop on Thanksgiving and Black Friday
  • 17 percent will shop on Cyber Monday
  • 13 percent on the weekend between Black Friday and Cyber Monday
  • 34 percent will shop during the month of December

According to the survey, consumers want retailers to offer more diversity in shopping and shipping. To meet these requirements, retailers must focus on omni-channel – allowing their customers to order from anywhere, ship to any location and return to a store, regardless of purchase origin. Free shipping is not a big concern; neither is next-day delivery. Consumers would rather wait 5-7 days than pay a shipping fee for quicker delivery. However, 80 percent are more willing to purchase online if they have a promotion code or coupon that includes free shipping.


The retail industry is becoming more complex due to omni-channel processes requiring enterprise-wide visibility into inventory. Fifty percent of people that buy online will pick up their order in store. They also want to be able to view products in-store, regardless of whether they order it there or online. This means retailers need to have the inventory in the store; therefore inventory must be extremely accurate to keep consumers happy.

Using technology, retailers gain better insights into their inventory and it will greatly contribute to improved operational efficiencies and better movement of inventory through fulfillment processes. Carton flow solutions from UNEX Manufacturing can help by reducing travel time of order pickers between picks by 80 percent; consolidate inventory; increase product visibility and access; and increase pick rates. Getting products faster into the hands of pickers and subsequently into the shipping carton means retailers can get their products out the door faster, making consumers happier.