Your Cyber Monday Shopping May Lead Back to Traverse City

"A little intense and fast-paced. But it’s great."

Right after Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, comes Cyber Monday. No matter where you do your online shopping, the shipping might happen from right here in northern Michigan.

A distribution warehouse in Traverse city is busy fulfilling those Cyber Monday orders. Workflow Coordinator Avery Thomas says, “It’s constantly going, we ship 10,000- 9,000 orders a day, which is a lot.”

It’s all about the holiday hustle and bustle inside efulfillment service in Traverse City. It’s the other side of online shopping.

Chief Operating Officer Steve Bulger says, “An order will come in to their store and we pull it in to our system. And then… we’ll go out and actually pick, pack, and ship them out.”

Efulfillment works mostly with small to mid-size sellers, from those who sell on ebay to businesses that sell products on line. But this warehouse also serves as overflow storage for Amazon. Bulger says, “They only want so much inventory in their warehouse. Sellers want to buy in bulk and will store a portion here and then ship it to Amazon’s distribution centers as they need it.” Bulger adds that efulfillment works with “almost 700 different online merchants kind of all over the globe. About 40% of our clients are based overseas. And yeah, this is our busiest day of the year.”

They’d normally see 20,000 orders a week, but this one day will bring in more than 9,000 orders. In fact Bulger expects it could rise to 12,000 before the end of the day; at least 25,000 orders since Black Friday, and nearly 40,000 by the end of this week. “It can be a little stressful and obviously a little intense and fast-paced. But it’s great. We’ve got it pretty well dialed-in after doing it for so long. So it’s kind of fun to see it all in action.”

Avery Thomas agrees. “It’s fun and it’s fast-paced. Time goes by. It’s fun shipping stuff to other people, being on this end of online shopping. It’s cool to see how it works.”  And Thomas says he’s seen some pretty cool products as he’s packing bags for shipping. It’s encouraged him to buy a book that looked interesting and has also increased his own online shopping habits.

The thousands of packages require hundreds of hands. 120 employees year-round, and 20 more just for the month leading up to Christmas. Human Resources Manager Merry Hawley says, “It’s always exciting. All the extra employees, all the enthusiasm, all the energy, all the new staff that are trying – all wide-eyed, trying to figure out and fit in.”

Hawley says being creative – and flexible – with staffing helps them meet their needs. “We have employees that might work evenings, or just on a Friday, we might have full-time through the weekend. We actually added two shifts to cover the holiday season.”

In this 200,000 square foot warehouse, you’ll find 85,000 different products, and more than 4 million items under one roof, all distributed by efullfillment service. But it doesn’t end here. They have two other warehouses in the area, with plans to grow. Bulger says, “E-commerce is a great industry to be in obviously. We actually have plans to expand our footprint because of the demand for faster delivery and lower cost with delivery.”