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How have you been planning for peak 2020?

Date: November 16, 2020

Category: Industry news

Author: Jenni Day

We explore how a year like no other has impacted your sales, logistics and planning for the “Golden Quarter”

As a follow up from our article “A different kind of peak – preparing for the Golden Quarter amid COVID-19”, we wanted to understand how you, our members, have been preparing for peak 2020, and the impact coronavirus has had on your preparations. 

To do this, we asked you to share your thoughts on the following five questions:

  1. Online shopping has increased since the outbreak of COVID-19. How do you think this will impact Black Friday sales? 
  2. How long have you been planning for peak 2020?
  3. Have you seen any fluctuations in trade since the COVID-19 outbreak?
  4. Have you experienced any sourcing or supply-chain issues as a result of COVID-19?
  5. Has your final-mile delivery been affected as a result of COVID-19?

We’ve had a great response rate, with 127 of you completing the online survey between 10–11 November 2020. But what did we discover?


Black Friday sales expected to increase in 2020

Planning for peak 2020_chart 1

We found that two-thirds of you believe that Black Friday 2020 will see an increase in sales in comparison to previous years. In fact, 20 per cent of you think that this year’s Black Friday will be the biggest ever, with huge sales increases to be expected. 

Only one in five respondents thought Black Friday sales were likely to decrease on previous years, and 13 per cent believed sales will roughly stay the same as last year.


Peak preparations still underway 

Planning for peak 2020_chart 2

Interestingly, despite the majority of you expecting to see a sales increase around Black Friday, 39 per cent of  you only started planning for peak in the last two months, and one quarter haven’t started planning at all. 

On the flip side, more than one in five of those polled said you have been preparing for peak for more than three months.


Online sellers have seen sales increases since lockdown

Planning for peak 2020_chart 3

When looking at the impact of COVID-19 on trade over the past eight months, a huge 62 per cent of you have seen some sort of fluctuation. Three-quarters of you have seen trade increase at some point during the pandemic with 52 per cent still seeing an increase in sales, particularly if you trading online. Some additional comments to the poll were: “Sales have risen dramatically” and “we’re up by 200%”. 

While others saw an initial boost, it appeared that there were fluctuations based on channel, time, and additional lockdowns:

  • “We saw a 40 per cent increase on May, but tailed slightly and levelled out at about 20 per cent.”
  • “Sales go down the moment government announced lockdowns, and then slowly climb back up after a few days, even if lockdown is still in force.”
  • “More online sales, but export has decreased.”

For the 26 per cent of you that saw decreases in trade, many referenced the closure of physical stores or hospitality venues, and the desire for “need-only” items, rather than luxury goods.

COVID-19 has caused delays for many

The impact of the coronavirus on sourcing and supply chain doesn’t appear to be as dramatic as the effect on sales, were 50 per cent saying you have experienced issues as a result of the pandemic. 

Of those who have experienced sourcing or supply chain issues, half of you referenced delays either as a result of “longer shipping times and delays at port” or “materials out of stock and incoming stock delayed.” 

Availability of stock was the second biggest issue, with 28 per cent of you referencing shortages of raw goods or lack of stock from suppliers, particularly when sourcing from China. 

Price increases have also been seen by 7 per cent of respondents, either in relation to the increased cost of raw materials or issues like “having products shipped by air from China” becoming “too expensive.”

Delivery times have been extended

Finally, we wanted to know more about final mile deliveries and how they had been impacted by COVID-19. Thankfully for 72 per cent of you, your final mile hasn’t been affected. However, for the 28 per cent who have been affected, more than half of you called out delays due to extended delivery times or postal disruptions. 

This has meant many have had to look for alternative or back-up couriers to ensure goods reach customers within promised timescales, and have spent additional time on customer support to resolve issues and communicate revised delivery times.


What our members have to say

Alongside our survey, we also spoke to a few of our members to get their insights into the impact of COVID-19 and how peak 2020 was shaping up for them. 

Sales on the up for Igluu meal prep

For Igluu Meal Prep, sellers of one, two or three compartment meal prep food containers, they have seen:

Huge demand during COVID-19 and lockdown, because more people are at home and trying to find ways to save money. Batch cooking is a great way to save money and time.”

They have also benefited from the increase in people shopping online. However, this has had an adverse effect on their supply chain, which has struggled to cope with the demand due to staff being placed on furlough. This has led to Igluu upgrading their warehousing and logistics solution to better cope with future demand. 

Due to the nature of their product, Igluu’s busiest period tends to be Q1, so they are not planning on doing anything special this year for Christmas. That said, they are planning on running targeted email marketing campaigns to offer early Black Friday deals to their VIP customers.


Festive fun in store for customers of Munchy Play

Munchy Play, the fun kids plate company, launched during COVID-19, so online has always been pivotal to their strategy. This meant that as online shopping surged, they benefited from being e-commerce ready. 

In preparation for their first “peak” period, Munchy Play see this time as:

A great opportunity for online retailers like ourselves to offer discounts to customers in time for Christmas, and to help support the UK economy.”

They have also been closely monitoring stock levels on their own site and on Amazon, to ensure they can fulfil demand, and have some fun promotions up their sleeves to give everyone a bit of festive cheer. 

By using Amazon’s fulfilment service, Munchy Play have managed to avoid many of the adverse final-mile issues, and by manufacturing their products in the UK, they have had very few sourcing issues.  


Resilience is the word of the year for OnBuy

Online marketplace, OnBuy, has seen a huge surge in sales since the beginning of lockdown, with many customers shopping online to get hold of everyday items that are no longer available to them on the high street. 

When speaking to GS1 UK on 22 October 2020, founder and CEO of OnBuy, Cas Paton, said:

We’re seeing an October that’s far greater than we originally envisioned. Our current run rate is higher than budgeted for October already and most of the Christmas kick-off will really be in November, particularly with Black Friday and Cyber Monday coming.”

Cas went on to comment that despite lockdown and the pandemic being incredibly challenging, he believed that 2020 was the year of resilience. 

In the e-commerce space, everyone from couriers, retailers and manufacturers have had to be both robust and flexible to cater for the enormous impact of that the virus has had on world business – this will doubtless have to play a part in 2021 and beyond.