Kushal Nahata (left), co-founder and CEO, FarEye, provides some top tips on how to avoid delivery headaches during the fast approaching Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping bonanza
According to the Centre for Retail Research (CRR) and VoucherCodes.co.uk, UK shoppers spent a record £5.8bn (US$7.7bn) over the four days between Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2016 – an increase of 15% over the previous year. With more shoppers going online to bag bargains and avoid store stampedes, the pressure to deliver to consumers’ doorsteps is at its peak.
Customers are increasingly demanding more delivery options from retailers and carrier partners including timed delivery windows, next-day delivery, alternative location delivery, and even same-day delivery.
But failing to deliver on delivery promises is not an option. Late deliveries or failure to deliver at the first attempt not only damages the brand in the customer’s eyes but also costs retailers dearly. In its most recent Home Delivery Review 2016, retail analysts IMRG estimated that ‘failed’ deliveries lost retailers and online traders over £780m (US$1bn) each year.
To avoid logistical headaches and keep deliveries on track, here are some top tips for keeping consumers happy during this international shopping bonanza:
1: View the entire logistics operations in real time:
Lack of visibility into the status of their supply chain is the biggest challenge that logistics and shipment service providers are facing today. During peak periods such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it’s particularly critical to have a real-time view of the entire logistics value chain so that all the fluctuations in supply and demand can be mapped out and responded to, in real time.
2: Use anticipatory and ‘elastic’ logistics to improve scalability and flexibility:
Both anticipatory and elastic logistics, which gives retailers the flexibility to quickly align with specific supply chain model demands at any given time, can help to keep deliveries on track during busy periods.
3: Be in the right place at the right time
It goes without saying that effective, real-time collaboration between all stakeholders in the delivery process will save both time and money. Being able to track delivery notifications, driver location, traffic information and the status of every courier on the road in real time means warehouse supervisors can seamlessly coordinate related jobs.
So, for instance, the manager can ensure the next set of packages for dispatch is ready at the warehouse as soon as the courier is free after delivering the first set. Similarly, if customers cannot accept their shipment at the allocated delivery time or want to suggest a new one, real-time tracking allows the goods to be redirected – say to a nearby retail store – not only saving time, but reducing the logistics cost incurred by reverse logistics and subsequent delivery attempts.
Meanwhile, by analyzing the data from each courier’s performance, the manager can work out who will be at the right place at the right time to better handle on-demand requests.
4. Keep the customer in the picture
If one thing is certain, there will be unexpected and unavoidable delivery issues, even with a real-time view of the logistics operation. Retailers can minimize the fall-out with customers by using an end-to-end smart logistics platform that supports geo-location tracking of couriers and can send notifications and text messages with updated delivery slots to consumers as soon as a delay occurs.
5: Create a smooth returns process
When asked what is the most important factor when deciding where to buy an item online, KPMG International’s recent report into online shopping preferences and behaviors found that consumers were most likely to buy from the website with the lowest price they could find (57%) followed by websites with enhanced delivery options (43%) or easy return policies (40%).
Keeping customers happy – and likely to make future purchases – means returning goods needs to be as easy as buying them. A smart delivery tracking solution built on a flexible business process management (BPM) platform means retailers and logistics companies can quickly and cost-effectively modify their workflows and processes to cater for the surge in returns they will face during the biggest UK shopping event of the year.
November 21, 2017