Leveraging technology to lessen the burden of high-volume delivery periods can help retailers make the most of busy sales periods, writes Wayne Shepherd. 

High-volume delivery periods are one of the most important yet challenging times for retailers . It’s these times that retailers have the greatest opportunity to bring in new customers, while also promoting return purchases, so here’s a step-by-step guide to managing when sales sky-rocket.

1.It’s good to talk

Communication is key in delivery management to everyone involved throughout the supply chain. Using all available communication channels to convey how increasing sales volumes will affect delivery. A simple ‘thanks for your patience during this busy period’ gives perspective to the keen customer. Regular updates to the customer on how their delivery is tracking gives confidence and peace of mind. If there’s an issue, let customers know you’re managing their expectations.

When you’re struggling with communication in busy periods, be sure to realistically update your service offering, specifically cut-off times for deliveries. This will help support everyone throughout the process, and protect your brand reputation.

2. Lengthen delivery windows during busy periods

This is an incredibly important step when forecasting busy periods.

For example, offer morning, afternoon and evening delivery windows rather than offering customers a three-hour window option. You can even consider offering AM or PM windows to allow your delivery teams greater flexibility. Customers won’t be disappointed that you change the length of delivery windows but will remember when you don’t deliver in the time frame you promise

3. Invest in live delivery booking systems

A real-time delivery booking system is essential regardless of the size of your operation, and the live data must be shared with your delivery partner.

This means ensuring everyone can see the status of all deliveries in real-time and ensuring there is less room for error and greater accuracy.

4. Manage your stock in the run up to the busy period

In the past we’ve dealt with clients unexpectedly running out of stock, or stock being held at different locations, which has led to unforeseen delays and more critically, unforeseen costs.

Plan your warehousing and stock control to avoid anyone having to wear the cost of the delivery teams picking up from multiple locations for a single delivery. Nobody wants or needs to double the warehouse management activity during a peak period.

Wayne Shepherd is the National Manager, Sales at ANC