The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted nearly every industry, but shipping and logistics are especially taking a hit. As the holiday season approaches, shipping is the hot topic on everyone’s mind. How will presents be delivered on time with labor shortages, packed ports and other logistical challenges?
Out-of-stock messages from online retailers are expected to be up 172% over 2020 this holiday season. Some of the categories that will experience these issues include apparel, consumer electronics, sporting goods and baby products.
Shipping challenges will burden the retail industry, but companies must do what they can to meet customer expectations.
Current Shipping Industry Challenges
The shipping industry will struggle during the holidays this year.
There’s a major backlog of ships in the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports. Truck drivers and warehouse workers are taking on extra hours to make up for some of these bottlenecks. Some large and small retailers are worried they’ll lack the product necessary to keep shelves stocked, and there’s evidence to support these feelings.
However, there is a bright spot in all this. Consumers are less likely to blame the retailer for out-of-stock issues or shipping delays.
A study from Deloitte found that most consumers will likely blame delays on carrier services, such as FedEx or UPS. About 48% are worried about receiving their orders on time based on the supply chain issues reported in the media.
This year, the combination of supply chain disruptions and increased customer demands will cause some challenges for companies that rely on selling products. At Solid Signal, we’ve been working hard for months to make sure that we can meet your shipping expectations. We started by working with our overseas partners back in the summer to bring a larger amount of inventory in for the winter. We’ve also revised all our warehouse procedures so that we can match our shipping carriers’ expectations. Unlike many other online stores, we don’t rely on just one carrier. We can choose the best carrier for each need, and as the holidays roll in, we’ll be balancing out each carrier’s loads on a daily basis. We’re ready to meet the challenge.
Here are some ways all businesses can better manage their supply chains and shipping practices to ensure shoppers receive the best service possible.
1. Understand Shipping Deadlines
All businesses should have the goal of shipping before carrier deadlines. USPS, UPS and FedEx all have various timelines. Use them to ensure packages and mailings reach customers before the holidays.
Retailers should plan to exceed these deadlines and ship out orders well before to avoid dealing with disgruntled customers.
2. Optimize Fleet Performance
Consider using data analytics to optimize fleet performance and efficiency.
Multiple types of software are available that track a vehicle’s usage hours, so companies know how many trucks are needed to handle their shipping loads.
3. Offer Alternative Delivery Methods
Aside from just shipping, many retailers are looking into other product delivery methods. For instance, the buy online pickup in-store model (BOPIS) is becoming popular among companies.
Customers with alternative delivery options are more likely to return for repeat purchases. Additionally, this removes some stress on a company’s shipping processes because fewer orders need to be sent out quickly. Offer more than just direct shipping to ensure people receive the items they need for the holidays.
4. Communicate Shipping Prices and Expected Delivery Dates
Customers want to be tuned into their purchase’s shipping journey. Apps such as Ship and Narvar will provide them with information such as where packages are located and when they can expect to receive them.
Be sure to communicate shipping information to customers, as the holidays are chaotic. Tracking packages is also essential for businesses as it gives them an idea of how long they typically take to reach their destinations. Be on the safe side and overcommunicate with customers to keep their expectations at bay.
The holiday season is just around the corner, and the last thing any company wants is to lose out on leads or conversions because of shipping delays. Many retailers are investing in new technologies to improve their operations. Now would be a good time to follow suit.