Minimize the impact of shipping disruption on peak season

Delays in production and global shipping triggered by the pandemic are threatening to impact brands all the way through from June to the holiday season. That’s pretty shocking and could have a huge impact on the Christmas shop for millions of consumers globally. It seems that it isn’t just manufacturing that has been compromised, but the reduction in transportation has created a backlog that will last a long time. Not to mention, it’s made securing transportation much more expensive. So, it got me thinking – how can e-commerce professionals take action? What can brands do now to prevent disruption to their end-of-year peak season?  

Understanding the impact on stock  

What this news means for e-commerce retailers is that unfortunately, they’re looking at a disjointed supply chain for the near future. As a result, stock management will become increasingly challenging. It is hard to monitor how much of the available stock in warehouses has already been sold. As a result, it is a major concern that during the height of peak season, e-commerce retailers will be selling more than they can supply. And, with the sensitivity and pressure to get all orders delivered on time during the holiday season particularly, it is imperative that brands act now to avoid problems later. Implementing a stock availability system, or refining the one you have, must take priority.  
 

Providing honest, proactive updates  

For the customers that buy from you this holiday season, it is best practice to keep them updated with their order’s progress. Research has found that customers want to be kept informed, even if the news is less than perfect. And this is arguably more important in the run up to peak season than any other time. If something changes, tell them the truth! But don’t just introduce problems. Give your customers solutions. Here’s what that might look like:  

I’m sorry to let you know that there have been delays in delivering your item. 
Unfortunately, we’re unlikely to get this to you when you expected. 
Please know that we’re very sorry for this inconvenience. 
To solve this, we can provide you (this like-for-like alternative) or a full refund. 
For your trouble, please accept this voucher. And here’s a discount code.  
You’ll also receive free shipping on your next order.

Essentially what you’re doing is changing the narrative from “We made a mistake” to “Here’s how we can help you.” In doing so, you can remedy the experience – turning it from a bad situation into a good one.  
 

And if you choose to ignore this news?  

Most brands will already be preparing for the retail peak season. If you’re not planning on adapting your plans to cater to these delays, you can expect a huge influx of ‘Where is my order?’ calls in the lead up and throughout your sales season. Brands are typically paying between £3-5 for every inbound contact they receive. This expense will quickly add up. And you must consider the cost of lost customer lifetime value. Let me explain what I mean by that. Every time you deliver a subpar customer experience, you minimize the likelihood of that customer returning to you. Whereas, if you’re delivering outstanding experiences, you’re likely to create loyal customers. This means winning market share from your competitors. But, if you choose not to set clear expectations and provide proactive communication, I’m afraid you’ll sacrifice this opportunity.  

Providing proactive e-commerce updates 

I know what you’re thinking: okay, but how? And it’s a very good question. It’s all very well talking about providing customers with these state-of-the-art, event-triggered customer updates, but who has the ability to build something like that in time for peak season? I have an alternative. Our Operations Experience Management platform enables e-commerce retailers to provide end-to-end customer experiences of their own design. We can work together to create a communications workflow from pre-checkout, dispatch, delivery, returns and beyond. Your customers will stay within your own ecosystem, with a familiar voice and branding to guide them through the experience. To show you how this works, I’d recommend a demo. And here’s the best news: integrating with parcelLab is fast, so you can be up and running in time for peak season. Get in touch now.  

About the Author: Bertie Stevenson
Bertie is our Head of Sales in Northern Europe. He has spent two decades helping retailers transform their customers’ digital experiences. At parcelLab, Bertie is helping organisations capture the missed opportunity of the post-sales experience.