Preparing for the Most Digital Black Friday Ever

Leadership | Rui Marques, Managing Director, Supply Chain - Iberia | Nov. 20, 2020

Just like everything else in 2020, Black Friday will be different this year. Already one of the biggest shopping days of the year, Black Friday on 27 November is going to be a game-changer for consumers, for retailers and for logistics and supply chain operators.

In Spain alone, more than 50 million packages will move around the country as part of Black Friday sales. An additional 50 million packages will be delivered to consumers as part of the traditional end-of-year holiday season. A staggering 3.5 million packages per day will be transported, often same-day or overnight, from distribution centres to people’s homes.

Unprecedented pressure on retailers to meet customer expectations

Driving these figures are two key elements: retailers have announced Black Friday deals much earlier than in previous years, and consumers who shifted to online shopping during the Covid-19 pandemic will shop even more online during the holiday season.   

These figures and insights were shared by Francisco Aranda, President of UNO Logística during a recent online panel discussion, which highlighted the enormity of the challenge facing the logistics industry in the lead up to the ‘most digital Black Friday ever’.

The predicted growth in e-commerce activity during this year’s holiday season is remarkable and puts retailers under more pressure than ever. Customers already expect fast, hassle-free, on-time delivery. Hitting that bar for every order as volume spikes in November and December requires another level of logistics expertise.

XPO expands capacity to meet surge in holiday demand

To cope with the exponential increase in consumer demand during this year’s Black Friday, we will hire an additional 4000 people in our Spanish operations. We estimate that we will prepare approximately 10 million orders during the peak, which equates to 10% of the total number of Black Friday packages that will be distributed in Spain.

These figures represent a 53% growth from the number of packages we moved during the same period last year and, for Black Friday alone, we estimate a 36% growth from 2019. These are impressive figures, but we are prepared and are in a position to help our customers succeed in their commercial and distribution strategies.

Well-organised supply chain pivotal to e-commerce success

Since the pandemic began, XPO has increased its ecommerce activity by 40%. But even before that, we had been responding to ever-increasing peaks in demand across various sectors including fashion, toys, electronics, food and cosmetics. Given we work with such a wide variety of retailers, we have valuable insights into what volumes of product will be produced, allowing us to plan in advance for upcoming peaks.

From April to June this year, we already hired an additional 1000 people to cope with the demand caused by the pandemic. We are now in the process of employing another 4000. With more people on the ground to help speed up sorting, picking and packing, and by introducing greater automation into our operations, we are better able to absorb the ever-increasing peaks in demand.

A poorly organised Black Friday could collapse the supply chain. Fortunately, XPO is well prepared to help make this year's shopping event and holiday campaign the biggest and most successful in history.