It’s the time of year that can make or break even the largest of retailers. But here in 2017, as the holiday buying and delivery season approaches, it’s like retailers are caught between a rock and a hard place.
2017 has been as devastating a year as any for even the largest retail chains. On both sides of the Canada, U.S. border, retailers of all stripes are feeling the pinch, including Sears, Sports Authority, RadioShack, Macy’s and Payless, all of whom have either had major closures of stores, liquidated or filed for bankruptcy.
In other words, the retail world is in upheaval.
If that’s the rock, the hard place is customer expectations. 10 years ago, two-day delivery was considered good. Today, even the post office is almost guaranteeing two-day delivery – of regular mail. And the rest of us need to adjust to competing with two-hour (or faster) delivery times.
When you put the pinch that’s clearly happening in retail and the importance of the holidays for retail bottom lines, together with the heightened customer expectations for getting their purchases delivered fast, it means retailers and shippers better be ready for one thing. You need to make sure your transportation and delivery resources are bulletproof this holiday season if you want to get through it in good shape for 2018.
Whether you’re an ecommerce retailer working out of your basement, or a major multi-national shipper or retailer with hundreds of vehicles in your own fleet, here are just a few ways to make sure the 2017 holiday season turns out the way you want it to.
1. Start Putting Redundancy in Place Right Now
You want to know what else 2017 will be remembered for? Natural disasters and human tragedies. While the impact of events like the recent attacks in Las Vegas and New York City on transportation is the least of anyone’s worries, similar events, and natural disasters like the hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, can affect your schedules and delivery times.
That means having options, like different routes and modes, in the case of unforeseen disasters. To give you an idea of the scope of the issue here, if you think that all you need some extra drivers, that’s another problem altogether. They are in short supply.
2. Temporarily Add to Your Fleet
But that’s way easier said than done isn’t it? You just can’t arrange to buy or lease vehicles that quickly. And you already know that, even if you could, drivers for those vehicles are already hard to find, especially reliable ones.
But by using dedicated delivery services from a contract logistics provider, you can have a range of different vehicles, with trained and qualified drivers, and back-up for them, ready to go when you need them, full-time or part time.
3. Get Ready to Expedite
With so much riding on the holidays and meeting customer delivery expectations, you need to be ready for anything. This includes the option to get your freight, or maybe just a single package, delivered as fast as possible.
4. Don’t Forget to Give Yourself Space
One of the best ways to lose out on holiday sales is to not have enough stock to meet demand. In most cases, it’s less costly to over stock than the under stock. If you plan to increase inventories, you should also plan to increase your warehouse capacity in the locations that will save you the most money and time.
The National Retail Federation says that upwards of 30% of a company’s sales can happen during the holiday season. That’s almost one-third of annual sales happening in a little more than a month’s time. Are you ready?