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Behind the Freight Move: Cyber Monday

Buy now. Add to cart. Check out. These are the things Cyber Monday is made of. It's a day for those who prefer knocking out their holiday shopping online versus the Black Friday alternative. And odds are, whatever is magically delivered straight to your doorstep, was at some point riding on one of our trains.


Toys to the world, indeed. At least 39% of shoppers polled by Deloitte will be purchasing toys this year. Go behind the scenes and learn the magic of how toys are delivered from online shopping cart to your doorstep.

Small Appliances 

On average, households spent $123.15 on small appliances last year. Products such as vacuum cleaners, blenders and slow cookers are frequently promoted by online retailers as loss-leaders, or deeply discount promotional items, to attract consumers.


Video Games

Shoppers in search of that next high score regularly put video game systems as must-have items on their holiday list — with demand often exceeding supply. One new platform is on track to sell 10 million video game systems this year alone. Video game consoles (or finished electronics) are frequently transported by intermodal rail, which uses a mix of trains, ships and trucks to move goods to market.  


You can’t argue with this data: Computers represent 3.8% of U.S. imports, worth $84.8 billion each year and are offered at steep discounts on every Cyber Monday. Upon arriving at ports, finished computers are moved by truck and train to distribution centers for quick delivery to storefronts or consumers’ homes.



Home Goods

There’s no place like home, and that includes keeping it tidy. Home goods like paper towels and cleaning supplies are not frequent items on holiday wish lists; however, many consumers are purchasing these everyday items online through subscription-based services. Subscription services allow online retailers to forecast demand and move goods into market ahead of consumers’ purchasing them online. This allows retailers to use more cost-effective modes of transportation, like rail, to position goods at fulfillment centers on a routine, predetermined schedule, defraying downstream transportation costs of same- or next-day delivery.





The Omnichannel Supply Chain  

This year, online shopping tops the list as the most popular destination to buy gifts, with 59% of shoppers planning to purchase online and 64% indicating that they will research and/or purchase gifts by a smart phone or mobile device. This shift in buying behaviors are forcing retailers to blend virtual and instore shopping experiences. This trend, known as omnichannel, adds additional complexities to sourcing and transporting products in a cost-efficient and timely manner.

Today’s buyers have high expectations of retailers. Shoppers expect a seamless buying process between online and brick and mortar stores. According to the National Retail Federation, this year’s shoppers expect a high degree of service, including free-shipping (94%); purchasing online and picking up in store (49%); and expedited shipping (19%).

As shoppers look for reduced or free shipping while expecting faster shipping times, retailers have to identify other ways to offset these incremental expenses and preserve the bottom line. According to the Council of Supply Chain Management, over 60% of supply chain costs are transportation related, so any reduction in transportation expenses can have a large impact on overall supply chain expenditures and the bottom line. Leveraging rail upstream, for less time sensitive moves from manufacturing sites to distribution and fulfillment centers, lowers transportation costs and allows retailers to position products near consumers. Improving efficiencies and reducing transportation costs on the front-end, allows retailers to meet buyers expectations and offset the higher costs associated with same or next-day delivery.


The Toy Story 

More than 39% of shoppers this year will be adding toys to their shopping cart as part of their holiday gift buying. The new must-have toy completed quite the journey, including a ride on the rails, before ending up in an online shopping cart and arriving at the door. A popular kids’ movie once shared the secret life of toys. Now is your chance to go Behind the Freight Move to see what those toys are up to before landing in the kid’s toy box, inevitably heading to infinity and beyond. 

See below for how the omnichannel supply chain relies on rail transportation upstream to move goods cost effectively between manufacturing and distribution centers, equipping retailers to ship orders quickly from fulfillment centers to consumers’ doors. 




Explore the Holidays