Peak season is nothing new for logistics company, UPS and a lot of time is spent preparing for it. Despite this year becoming busier due to the pandemic, the fundamentals of what UPS does remain the same, according to UPS Australia and New Zealand managing director, Stephen Stroner.

“One of the most important things we do is to carefully collaborate with our customers to ensure volume and capacity are aligned within our network, including for small- and medium-sized businesses that are also seeing an increase in holiday volume,” he told Retailbiz.

UPS is hiring more than 100,000 seasonal employees to support the peak period, many of whom will take on permanent positions once the holidays are over. The company provides end-to-end shipment tracking giving customers complete visibility on where their packages are.

When asked about his tips for retailers managing supply chains, Stroner said, “if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we need to expect the unexpected”.

He said this means businesses need to build flexibility and adaptability into their supply chains, which involves having a Plan A, then Plan B, and so on – and not just for the peak period.

“In terms of peak though, it’s most important to plan ahead, and businesses will have had their plans in place for some time already. But there are still things to look out for and the first is returns,” he said.

“In January 2020, UPS shipped a record number of product returns off the back of the 2019 holiday season, so with e-commerce purchases reaching new highs this year, it stands to reason that returns will too, and business owners need to make sure they’re not caught off guard.”

UPS research shows that 42% of online shoppers research a company’s returns policy before they even start browsing, which demonstrates how important returns are to the online shopping experience.

“Customer service in general is an area where some businesses can come unstuck. While customers will accept mistakes, they won’t tolerate poor service, with 90% of the world’s shoppers saying they will stop purchasing or purchase less frequently from a retailer if they receive poor customer service.”