2021 Retail Holiday Trends & Supply Chain Learnings

by | Jan 26, 2022 | Industry, TeamSPS

During the 2021 holiday season, SPS Commerce helped retail businesses all over the world keep orders flowing from Thanksgiving through Cyber Week and to the end of the year. Our retail network offers a unique vantage point as it manages orders, shipments and invoices from more than 120,000 retail businesses. The network’s transaction data shows some new and emerging retail trends that we wanted to share.

Here are a few spoilers on where we saw changes over the 2020 and 2021 holiday seasons:

  • An increase in unique number of trading partners
  • An increase in carrier service messages
  • An increase in document automation
  • An increase in drop-ship only orders

SPS Commerce Supply Chain Learnings from 2021

Here are some of our findings:

Cyber Monday dominated the season!

Cyber Monday continues to dominate the season, but Cyber Tuesday order volumes are rising YOY, with only an 10% difference in transaction volume in 2021. CyberWeek orders were up 21% overall from 2019 to 2021.

The busiest time of the year

The busiest hour for holiday orders continues to be 2pm Central on Cyber Monday for the second year in a row.

Welcome to the network

Unique trading relationships increased 31% from 2019 to 2021, showing companies are adding new partners (primarily new suppliers) and automating these relationships.

Automating the supply chain

Supply chains continue to automate with a 41% increase in electronic purchase orders (likely due to increased drop-ship orders), a 39% increase in advance ship notices to provide more visibility and a 48% increase in electronic invoices.

The delivery is on its way

This season saw an 11% increase in carrier status messages, the largest increase in years, showing that buying organizations were tracking more shipments, likely due to tight inventory situations.

Drop shipping reaches new heights

59% of orders during the holiday season were drop-ship, with direct-to-consumer order volumes up 30% compared to average 2021 levels.

The SPS retail network supports tens of thousands of businesses through their high-volume seasons, like cyber week, and all year long. We keep orders moving, provide visibility, and connect the supply chain for a better customer experience. Looking for a full-service, scalable solution to better support your omnichannel shopper experience, visit our Supply Chain Solutions page.

SPS Commerce Blog Team