Deliver a Peak Like No Other: 5 Tips to Prepare for Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Beyond
Peak 2021 is predicted to break all previous records, with an anticipated 10.7% rise compared with last year’s ecommerce shipping volumes during Covid-19’s deadliest phase. Furthermore, almost a third of Brits plan to shop exclusively online this Christmas, more than a fourfold increase from last year. While this presents sales growth opportunities for Britain’s 200,000 online retailers, burgeoning demand has put strain on all aspects of the supply chain and carrier networks, leading to staff shortages, understocking and blemished customer experiences.
At Parcelhub we experienced first-hand the impact of sharp, unanticipated rises in demand with a 250% increase in parcel traffic and a 100% spike in delivery tracking queries, during the first lockdown. While merchants will likely experience further growth in demand, they also have a number of hurdles to overcome. For British retailers in particular, Brexit has impacted their workforces, supply chains and has introduced a whole host of additional customs, legal and accounting red tape. Parcelhub had to quickly develop a Brexit Support Portal to ensure mid-market retailers that it serves, have accurate and complete customs information. While overall shipping volumes have increased in general, Christmas Peak will build on this.
- Work with a broad range of carriers
In or out of peak, retailers should spread risk by appointing different carriers tailored to their product type, customers’ urgency, level of cover required, item value, item dimensions and customers’ expectations (such as whether they demand duty is paid at checkout or on delivery). Each retailer’s needs are different from the next and so working with a multi-carrier shipping provider ensures you have different carriers with different competencies, catering for every facet of your product range, current and future ideal customers.
2. Build customer support and operational contingency
Many retailers don’t have the operations in place take advantage of peaks in demand, leading to missed sales. Working with an outsourced call centre can ensure you have the personnel in place but when demand drops after peak, you won’t have the continual cost of permanent staff. The same can be said for e-commerce fulfilment operations; a new report from the commercial real estate firm CBRE says ecommerce is expected to grow to a quarter of all retail sales by 2025, which had led to a rise in demand for ecommerce warehousing and storage, urban warehousing and even retailers turning their own warehouses into fulfilment centres. At the Whistl Group we have 11 fulfilment warehouses across the UK, totalling over 1.5 million sq ft of fulfilment space and a 500-seat contact centre capability.
3. Diversify your supply chain
As Warren Buffet famously said; “only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked,” and in this sense Covid-19 has exposed the vulnerabilities of many online retailers and brands, particularly those who have a high dependency on overseas territories for raw materials and finished products. Supply chains have experienced key challenges in recent times, from trade disputes to blocked shipping routes and the obvious Covid-19 and Brexit, leading to short-term shipping delays, decreased access to stock, factory closures, border issues and trade barriers. Diversifying your supply chain means working with more than one supplier, sourcing your raw materials from multiple countries and even reviewing your key contractual provisions with suppliers to ensure they are fit for purpose.
4. Get ready for Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions
In the aftermath of a global outbreak, more and more Black Friday and Cyber Monday shoppers now queue in virtual stores rather than physical stores. Online sales are predicted to grow from £4.77 bn to £5.74 bn over the Black Friday weekend in the UK, an increase of 20% in a single year. Consider offering time-sensitive discounts, encourage cross-sell at checkout and prepare your email lists early to give your customers exclusive deals. Dedicate budget towards remarketing to make your entire addressable audience aware of your new offers.
5. Be proactive and predictive, not reactive
With 77% of poor reviews directly related to the post-checkout customer experience, it’s imperative that retailers leverage technology that can predict, identify and remedy potential bad experiences before they impact your customers, your reputation and your bottom line. In a recent survey by Parcelhub and Brightpearl, we found 28% of mid-market retailers plan to invest in Outsourced Delivery Tracking Support in 2022, so thankfully retailers are starting to see the value in a proactive approach. Recent global events have also exposed weaknesses in carrier networks and only the strongest have thrived; retailers who have invested in proactive delivery management that minimises the incidence of delivery failures are able to maximise the performance of their chosen delivery partners.
While planning for peak should begin much earlier in the year, many of the above strategies can be implemented in a matter of weeks. Furthermore, the above recommendations aren’t something that should be ‘switched-on or off’ during peaks or troughs in demand; retailers must always diversify their end-to-end supply chain, have an arsenal of resources at their disposal and employ a proactive approach to delivery management. Right now, with global shopping season looming, never have these approaches been more apt.
Parcelhub is the UK’s leading provider of multi-carrier delivery solutions and proactive tracking support. Flexible and scalable, its portfolio of services integrates seamlessly with marketplaces, eCommerce platforms and order management systems, providing hundreds of multi-channel retailers, global brands and wholesalers with one access point to 20+ carriers and 600+ delivery options.