The record-setting consumer spending that took place on Black Friday this year pulled in an estimated $7.4 billion, with an additional $4.2 billion spent on Thanksgiving Day. It is clear that consumer confidence is up, and most are turning to the web and to mobile to spend more money but less time this holiday season. That could be both good news and bad news for the trucking industry as fleet managers prepare for possibly the busiest season on record.
Consumers spent $11.6 billion online over the two days. Friday was also the biggest day ever for mobile sales, as $2.9 billion came from smartphones. People are getting more comfortable with buying online and on smaller screens.
While Black Friday marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season, Cyber Monday adds to the momentum with record-setting spending expected this year as well. All told, Cyber Week spending from Thursday to Monday is expected to top $29 billion in online sales. What it all means for the trucking industry is full loads and lots of them. Fleet managers across the country have been preparing as much as possible with both worst- and best-case scenarios in mind.
Fleet Managers Prepare With a 3-Step Strategy
CSA Transportation is familiar with the chaos that Black Friday and Cyber Monday can bring. They have addressed it with these three very important steps:
1. Get your workforce ready
Whether you’re a retailer, a distributor, or a warehouse, make sure you have extra seasonal labor on hand to get things done. For retailers, it’s going to be all hands on deck for you and your team come Black Friday; for distributors, you’re likely feeling the rush right about now. Here’s hoping you have a big team or an efficient trucking company partner to help you with the huge surge in demand on Black Friday and for shipping come Cyber Monday. Now is the time to pull in certain employees with flexible skill sets or ask them to take up a position they previously held just to relieve pressure during this busy time. Making sure your employees have a good level of cross-training will give you more flexibility in dealing with crises.
2. Develop a plan for support
Do you have an all-star lineup of support specialists? By choosing the right people for your support team, you’ll increase accountability and set expectations. Have a customer support plan in place and be ready to deal with complaints—because no matter how well you’re prepared, there will always be someone who is upset about something on Black Friday and throughout the season.
3. Bypass supply chain roadblocks
If possible, retailers should kit or pre-load seasonal pushes for point of origin direct-to-store shipping. Likewise, to ensure that stock moves quickly and efficiently, distributors could reconfigure distribution centers for cross-docking so that replenishment orders aren’t put away, then pulled right back out again—resulting in huge inefficiencies during the holidays. Consider slotting your warehouse or storerooms intelligently—locate faster moving products closer to operating areas to keep objects traveling swiftly.
Proper planning is not important only for logistics, inventory, and vehicle maintenance. Fleet credit and payment preparations are also critical during the holiday rush. While fleet cards are a necessary tool for most trucking companies, they are particularly beneficial during the holiday months where time is even shorter than usual. The right fleet card can provide efficiencies for the driver when deliveries are compounded and time to stop for fuel interrupts a tightened schedule. Many fleet managers rely on payment leader EFS/WEX for a robust fleet credit solution.
Fleet credit card or fuel card needs can vary depending on the size of the company. Some fleet managers need to focus on fuel card acceptance and monitoring employee spending, while larger companies require comprehensive data analytics on the activity of the fleet card. Most cards offer basic services such as the following:
- Saving on rebates
- Carrying a monthly balance
- Acceptance at 95% of U.S. gas stations
- U.S.-based 24/7 customer service
- Capturing transaction data for every purchase
- Monitoring employee spending in real time
- Curbing misuse by requiring driver ID number at pump
- Setting spending controls
- Restricting fueling to certain times of day
- Limiting spending by product type, location, or dollar amount
- Providing custom reports based on card activity
With fleet credit and fuel cards, fleet management can stay one step ahead of the chaos brought on by Cyber Week, with the added comfort of knowing they can focus on the logistics of truck capacity and delivery schedules while a fleet partner like EFS/WEX helps with payments that keep trucks fueled up, on the road, and moving forward.