Tinsel, twinkling fairy lights, and mince pies—it’s beginning to feel a bit like Christmas. And while consumers are compiling their holiday shopping lists (checking those who have been naughty or nice) retailers are ramping up for the hectic peak shopping season.
From ensuring your operational systems and processes can handle increased demand from both online and offline sales, to syncing with supply chain and logistics companies—from distribution centres to delivery vans—retailers need to get it right. And given 2017 has, to date, been flat in retail sales, retailers are feeling added pressure.
To help ease some of that pressure, here’s a practical checklist aimed at ensuring a smooth holiday shipping season.
Have you provided your delivery services partner with your pre- and post-Christmas sales plan?
Strong retailer and fleet delivery partnerships work best with timely and on-going communication. While relevant all year round, during the holiday season with its significantly increased volumes, communication becomes paramount.
Just as retailers ramp up staff and resources during the holidays, so do fleet delivery companies. To successfully meet increased delivery demands fleet delivery companies need to plan quarterly in advance for the holiday pre- and post-Christmas spikes. They need info such as volume forecasts for each retail location and any initiatives, like promotions and delivery fee schedules, which retailers are putting into place that will influence customer behaviour.
Are you planning for all the required seasonal staff and training?
Most retailers need to hire extra temporary staff to handle the busy holiday period. Staff training needs to include delivery policies so the right information is provided to the customer at the point of sale.
And, of course, the hiring of seasonal staff is not limited to the sales floor. Additional staff is likely needed for back-of-store roles such as pickers to ensure a smooth delivery operation.
Are your delivery policies systemised and simple?
Delivery policies need to be set jointly by the retailer and the fleet delivery partner. While delivery options may be expanded to meet seasonal delivery spikes, the policies need to be highly systemised and as simple as possible. This way, you’ll minimise the additional problems that can be created by increased volumes, temporary staff and inevitable delivery changes.
Keeping delivery policies simple and systemised also allows for more focus to be given to the delivery experience itself.
Are you ready to manage customer delivery expectations?
The holiday season may be considered one of the most wonderful times of the year, but many customers are stressed over the Christmas period. This means that, while the need to manage customer delivery expectations is important throughout the year, the need goes up a notch during the festive season.
Clearly articulated delivery policies—either provided by trained sales staff or spelt out on your website and in-store—will set the right customer delivery expectations. Even for those last minute shoppers who unreasonably expect their orders to arrive on Christmas Eve.
Is client delivery information correct and complete?
Most retailers focus on the consumers’ price of delivery, whether it’s $40 or $100. But what is important to consider is the end-to-end true cost. When the delivery is 100 per cent successful, the true cost is commensurate with the consumer price. But the slightest error like incorrect delivery information can unravel a complex system.
Retailers need to consider the recovery, potential damage to stock and the escalating costs of multiple handling points. The cost of the failed delivery—resulting from an incorrect or incomplete address—exponentially increases the overall costs. And with the seasonal spike in volume, we could be talking big dollars.
Along with the expense, a failed delivery has a domino effect on the supply chain, impacting on other deliveries on the driver’s already tight schedule.
With Click Frenzy just passed and Black Friday sales days away, the countdown to the peak shopping season has begun. Hopefully, this checklist will help in ensuring your team and customers enjoy a smooth, happy and safe delivery season.
James Taylor is the managing director at ANC.
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