Many retailers were unable to meet their delivery promises to customers during Black Friday and Christmas last year, in the process paying over the odds for extra carrier capacity at short notice. One year on, the retail industry is claiming to have learned its lessons, but with promotions on the way and carriers such as Yodel recruiting more new drivers, the test is just around the corner. Here are three questions retailers should ask themselves to see if they are ready to cope.
Firstly, have I properly built out my delivery networks, with realistic contingency plans? Consumers will demand a variety of goods and all expect swift delivery over the same short time period, putting delivery networks under increasing strain. Retailers can only ramp up activity in line with increased demand if they have the ability to work with a variety of carriers simultaneously at short notice.
Secondly, am I keeping my customer promises? Complete visibility over delivery networks and lead times is now essential to ensure that orders are being fulfilled in line with the promise to the customer. Customer memories extend beyond Black Friday and a poor delivery experience has the potential to damage the customer relationship and stop them shopping with you again in future.
Finally, am I treating product returns as a revenue generator? Many items bought during Black Friday and Christmas will be returned as the result of impulse purchasing and supply chains must be geared up to handle reverse logistics effectively. Rather than being an afterthought, returns should form part of a ‘full circle’ customer experience that encourages and rewards loyalty.
Niklas Hedin is CEO of Centiro