During the busy Christmas selling period, consumers are increasingly requesting timed delivery windows, next-day delivery, alternative location delivery and even same-day delivery, putting enormous strain on retailers’ backend infrastructure and carrier partners.
These peaks in retail parcel flows can be, quite literally, a logistical nightmare.
Back in 2015 LCP estimated that £75 million (7%) of orders in the UK would arrive late because of the delivery company or the retailer, and that £31 million (2.9%) worth of orders would also need to be re-delivered because of the customer not being present at the first delivery attempt.
>See also: Black Friday? Something is very wrong
Not only do these delivery issues damage the brand in the eyes of the consumer, but they also cost retailers money: retail analysts IMRG estimated that in 2014 the cost of ‘failed’ deliveries to retailers and other traders for goods sold online in the UK was a whopping £771 million.
As the busiest online shopping period of the year takes hold, here are five tips to help ensure a frictionless delivery model and an optimal experience for consumers.
1. Have a real-time view of the entire logistics operations
The biggest challenge that logistics and shipment service providers are facing today is lack of visibility into the status of their supply chain.
So far, despite being one of the top priorities, only 6% of firms have achieved full supply chain visibility, according to the GEODIS 2017 Supply Chain Worldwide survey.
The challenges are particularly acute during peak periods such as Black Friday/Christmas, when having a real-time view of the entire logistics value chain is a necessity.
To work smoothly, all the fluctuations in supply and demand must be mapped out and responded to in real-time.
2. Improve scalability and flexibility with anticipatory and “elastic” logistics
Anticipatory logistics, which uses big data-based predictive algorithms to shorten delivery times by predicting demand before a request or order is even placed, 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.
>See also: Retail analytics: big data and Black Friday
Elastic logistics lets firms tailor and optimise their logistics process at any given time based on their own particular set up and while taking account of, for example, fixed costs, warehouse footprints, geography limitations, distribution channels, and last minute deliveries.
3. Capture any delays in real time and keep the customer posted
When a customer places an order they expect the delivery to appear on time. Late deliveries can damage the brand and may ultimately lead to customers voting with their fingertips and switching to another firm for future purchases.
But even with a real-time view of the logistics operation, it is inevitable that there will be a few unavoidable and unexpected delays in deliveries.
In these instances, having an end-to-end smart logistics platform that supports geo-location tracking of couriers – as well as the ability to send notifications and text messages with updated delivery slots to consumers as soon as a delay is identified – can minimise the fall-out.
By keeping customers informed and engaged throughout the delivery process in real time, retailers can help to preserve this all-important relationship.
4. Facilitate real-time coordination
Logistics involves multiple stakeholders working across different locations, combined with a complex set of inter-relationships. For a frictionless process these stakeholders need to collaborate effectively and efficiently.
For example, once a courier is free, the next set of packages should be ready waiting for him at the warehouse for the next pickup.
>See also: Seasonal spam: the unwanted email gift that gives and takes
A cloud and mobile solution that tracks delivery notifications, driver location, traffic information, and the status of every courier (i.e. busy or free) in real time gives the warehouse supervisor a clear view on his dashboard of how best to coordinate related jobs.
Plus on-demand requests can be handled better if a manager is able to assess which couriers will be best placed to fulfill these requests based on analysing data from each courier’s performance history.
If customers are not available to accept the delivery at the suggested time, or suggest a new time for delivery, real-time tracking means the goods can be redirected – to a nearby retail store, for example – saving time and reducing the logistics cost incurred by reverse logistics and subsequent delivery attempts.
5. Making returns easy
With an increase in orders on Black Friday, it is safe to assume that return requests will also surge. To keep customers happy, it’s important to ensure that returning goods is as easy as buying them.
>See also: 5 ways data analytics will storm the stage in 2017
Choosing a smart delivery tracking solution that has a flexible Business Process Management (BPM) platform at it heart, logistics companies and retailers can quickly and cost-effectively modify their workflows and processes to expedite the returns process.
With Black Friday on-line sales set to sky-rocket, smart logistics are crucial to enable sellers to deliver improved customer satisfaction.
As companies race to the delivery finishing line, those who crack the smart logistics code first will gain a competitive edge and deliver doorstep delight.
Sourced by Kushal Nahata, Co-Founder & CEO, FarEye
The Women in IT Awards is the technology world’s most prominent and influential diversity program. On 22 March 2018, the event will come to the US for the first time, taking place in one of the world’s most prominent business cities: New York. Nominations are now open for the Women in IT USA Awards 2018. Click here to nominate