‘Tis the season to be wary – especially if you are responsible for product shipments over the upcoming holiday season.
A perfect storm is brewing for this year’s holiday shopping season, according to CNBC. As you may have heard:
- Labor shortages are going to impact delivery service providers and suppliers alike
- The entire supply chain is being stretched thin, impacting supplies and delivery times
- Port congestion, chip shortages, and factory shutdowns can lead to longer lead times for many items
- Carrier bottlenecks are expected to stretch delivery times, particularly over the holiday season
Not to mention that we are dealing with a global pandemic, fueling explosive e-commerce growth. According to recent figures from eMarketer, e-commerce is predicted to grow by 11.3% for the 2021 holiday retail season. And of course, all of these factors are going to limit consumer choices, result in fewer good deals, and risk disappointing customers and brand damage.
Preparing for the perfect retail storm
With the holiday retail season just a few weeks out, the clock is ticking on planning ahead. Here are some steps you can take to help your bottom line and your customer relationships survive the next few months:
Set customer expectations. When is the worst time to deliver a shipment to a customer? Later than they expect it. Make availability and delivery times as clear as possible upfront, before an order is made, so that you don’t “surprise” customers with backorders and shipping delays.
Plan ahead. In one recent article, retail consultant Chris Considine bluntly describes the options many people face in this year’s shipping crisis: “You can pay or you can wait.” Some larger retailers such as Home Depot and Walmart have even responded to rising costs by commissioning their own dedicated cargo ships. But if there isn’t a new freighter in your future, it makes sense to adjust your shipping charges and lead time to match this year’s new reality.
Avoid surcharges. Data quality and business intelligence are always important for any holiday retail season, but even more so during this year’s season. Major carriers such as FedEx and UPS are continuing to levy increasing surcharges on high-volume shippers and residential delivery, as well as fees for incomplete or undeliverable addresses.
Raise your customer service game. If there was ever a year to review your business processes for a better customer experience, this is it. This includes your customer touchpoints, communication, and issue resolution. Unclear expectations at order time, poor transparency about delivery expectations, and less-than-direct contact procedures can all have a real impact on your future market share, especially now.
How we can help
For e-commerce, this holiday season may come with razor-thin ‘margins’ of error, where leveraging efficiencies and minimizing costly mistakes might be the difference between being in the red or black by year’s end.
Ensuring that delivery addresses are accurate, sortable and standardized to delivery services’ specifications helps create efficiencies, reduce misdeliveries and meet your customer’s expectations. Address validation tools integrated into both your e-commerce platform and shipping logistics software can help tip the scales in your favor.
Service Objects offers several tools to ensure correct orders and delivery accuracy. Our dedicated Delivery Accuracy Solutions page helps you explore options such as our flagship Address Validation and Geocoding services for addresses worldwide. All of our tools can be integrated with your business and ecommerce platforms via API interfaces, and come with 24/7/365 technical support, expert implementation assistance, and guaranteed 99.999% uptime. To learn more, or arrange a free no-obligation trial license key, contact our friendly product experts anytime.