Online shopping now dominates Thanksgiving weekend, and that has important implications for delivery. While Black Friday store visits came back in 2022, the number of consumers shopping online (87.2 million) outpaced the 72.9 million people visiting stores, according to the National Retail Federation. Another 77 million people shopped online on Cyber Monday, with 59% shopping on their mobile devices.
Despite the shift, those digital shoppers still crave the instant gratification of taking their purchases home with them. The rise of same-day fulfillment has been all about getting customers closer to that get-it-now experience. As Target and Amazon continue to build up their same-day fulfillment capacity, the pressure is on for retailers of all sizes to follow suit.
Crowdsourcing delivery taps a network of independent drivers and personal vehicles to get those new purchases into consumers’ hands more quickly than a standard parcel delivery service. But speed isn’t the only advantage: Consumers also get much more control over their delivery experience.
With Roadie, the customer can select a delivery time that works for them, use live tracking to monitor the driver’s progress and communicate directly with the driver if issues emerge. That helps ensure the brand-new 55-inch TV they snagged at the big Black Friday blowout sale safely reaches their doorstep.
Retailers get big benefits as well. Because it’s a highly flexible and scalable solution, crowdsourced delivery is ideal for peak surges like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Drivers can pick up orders from stores, warehouses or any forward deployed inventory (FDI) location. Using Roadie’s estimator tool and automatic order consolidation ensures crowdsourced deliveries are as cost-effective as possible. Benefits like that are one reason the quick commerce market — defined as ultrafast and extremely efficient delivery of online orders to customers — is growing at a 15.2% compound annual rate, according to Statista.
Optimizing Black Friday deliveries
Incorporating crowdsourcing into your Black Friday/Cyber Monday fulfillment plans is simple. Here’s how to maximize the benefits:
Nail down fulfillment processes
Peak events put added stress on fulfillment operations. That’s especially the case when store order pickers will be sharing the aisles with holiday crowds. Make sure you set aside enough space to compile digital orders so crowdsourced drivers can easily connect with the right items.
Well-thought-out processes for picking, organizing and tendering orders are key to getting items on their way quickly, no matter where you’re fulfilling them from. Tools like Roadie SmartSort™ for in-house sortation can help streamline warehouse fulfillment operations and reduce fulfillment times by up to six hours per day. Check out these tips for more ideas to get your operations ready for the Black Friday surge.
Ensure sufficient labor
Seasonal labor is the secret weapon for ensuring a successful Thanksgiving weekend sales experience. The ranks of crowdsourced drivers tend to swell at that time of year as independent drivers look to pick up extra cash. Retailers must ensure they have enough additional labor on their side, as well, to get orders into these drivers’ hands quickly and accurately, whether that’s at DCs or in stores.
If you forecast a high volume of crowdsourced demand on Black Friday or for another event, it’s smart to let your delivery partners know in advance, so they can make sure there are enough drivers to meet your needs..
To maximize store floorspace, consider opening orders early for larger, bulky Black Friday items like electronics or furniture. Fulfilling those orders from stores or DCs before the event begins can free up more floor space for additional high-demand merchandise. Crowdsourced delivery is the key enabler in making sure those orders are delivered as soon as possible.
Position inventory strategically
Leverage analytics from previous Thanksgiving seasons to predict where Black Friday and Cyber Monday demand is most likely to materialize. That will help you put more merchandise close to where the Black Friday buyers will be and avoid multi-leg journeys for your merchandise. It can also inform your long-term strategy on fulfillment locations.
Crowdsourcing serves as a real risk-reducer when it comes to allocating inventory. Even if you held too much back at the warehouse or pushed too much out to stores, crowdsourced drivers can move inventory where it needs to be, whether that’s a customer’s doorstep or out to another store mid-event.
Those analytics also enable you to make strategic decisions about the delivery options you offer. You might consider using same-day delivery via crowdsourcing as an incentive or reward for high-value customers, and experiment with different fee structures or SKU limitations. Retailers can access data and analytics through the Roadie API or Roadie partners.
Manage inventory levels carefully
Modern inventory management tools enable you to see and sell inventory from across your entire store network as well as your fulfillment locations. So instead of allocating, for example, 15 or 20 models of flat-screen televisions to each store and holding some back at the warehouse, you can stock as many as 100 in each store location, and fulfill digital delivery orders from the nearest store location. That’s a real advantage.
It’s important, however, to ensure you don’t sell that last TV online when it’s actually in a cart en route to checkout. Make use of automated replenishment and real-time alerts to avoid disappointing customers and needlessly placing delivery requests for items that aren’t actually available.
The end of delivery limitations
Of course, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are just the official beginning to the holiday shopping rush. The week leading into December 25 brings yet another surge, as shoppers make last-minute purchases to complete their holiday prep. While traditional parcel delivery providers have to impose strict cut-offs for their deliver-by-Christmas guarantees, crowdsourcing requires no such limitations.
Roadie deliveries don’t stop at night or on weekends — in fact, they don’t even stop on Christmas Day. That means you can keep on selling, and satisfy even the most procrastinating customer.
Customer expectations for ultrafast delivery don’t go away just because it’s Black Friday, Cyber Monday or another high-volume event. Crowdsourced delivery is unlocking a new, flexible and scalable solution to meet those demands and put the customer in control of their delivery experience.