Did you know the two busiest peak season shopping days will fall just days before Christmas? Saturday, December 17 and Thursday, December 22 are forecasted to be the liveliest shopping days this year. Planning for last-minute peak season deliveries is quickly becoming essential. Doing so can help your sales skyrocket when shoppers will be their busiest.
Peak season is your chance as a seller to improve your profits significantly. Shoppers are looking for holiday gifts for all kinds of occasions and sales generally increase. However, selecting a seller becomes harder over the holiday season when deals are at their best everywhere. Every seller wants the increased volume, which means standing out is critical to success.
Let’s get into what peak season is, what challenges you might face, and how you can easily overcome them. Plus, find some key tips for streamlining your deliveries to keep you and customers stress-free.
What Are Peak Season Deliveries?
Peak season typically lasts from September to December. Some retailers, however, report peak season volume lasting all the way until mid January. Every store is a little bit different, but a few holidays are responsible for the general spike in sales.
To name a few, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, and Boxing Day are some of the biggest drivers of sales over the holiday season. Deals are at their finest and shoppers are looking for gifts for family, friends, teachers, coworkers, and everyone in between. These holidays give shoppers a reason to spend, making it a busy season for sellers. However, this busy shopping season isn’t all good news. In fact, most sellers don’t prepare well enough to handle the increase in volume. This can affect your customer’s satisfaction negatively and might deter them from coming back.
Nearly 73% of consumers experienced delivery problems during the 2021 peak season. This is one of the main deterrents causing customers not to return to a store in the future. Especially during the holidays, you need deliveries to be as seamless as possible. If you want to give customers a reason to trust you over other sellers, solving their delivery problems is the best route to take.
However, peak season might be accompanied by some unexpected challenges and fee surcharges. Most delivery providers charge more for holiday deliveries, which can make the busy season much more complicated. While delivery might be one of the largest problems, it isn’t an isolated challenge. Peak season delivery challenges can impact other aspects of your business as well. This is why it’s so important to prevent them now.
Peak Season Delivery Challenges
To make peak season a success, you need to understand what challenges you might come to face. Understanding what problems might come your way is the first step to avoiding them.
Here are 5 of the most common peak season delivery challenges sellers face.
1. Customers order late
You know it, we know it, and customers know it. No matter how well we all try to prepare, there’s always that one person you forgot to pick up a gift for. And that means you have two options: shopping amidst the horrible last minute crowds or ordering something online and hoping it arrives in time.
Late orders can throw a wrench in your plan and cost you some unhappy customers no matter how well you thought you prepared. But since the busiest shopping days are unfortunately close to Christmas, as mentioned earlier, you need to handle these orders as well as the rest to make customers happy.
Overcoming this challenge is a difficult one, but it can be done if you have the right partners working alongside you. The solution to late orders is fast deliveries, so you can give customers what they want and stand out from competitors.
2. Having a clear view of inventory
It might be a challenge you overlook, but inventory can be surprisingly difficult to manage during the peak season. Products are moving in and out of your store much faster than usual since sales are at a peak, and inventory numbers are constantly changing. Having a clear idea of what you actually have in store right now is crucial, or you might end up canceling most of those last-minute orders without having much choice.
What can a lack of inventory oversight cause? For starters, it makes it increasingly difficult to sell products when you’re only estimating how much of each you have in stock. Plus, you can only predict delivery time frames so well when your inventory levels are not well managed. If you run out of stock and need to order more, your orders might be delayed by days, if not week.
3. Order processing speed
Order processing can take way longer when you have a quick spike in order. If you’re not prepared for an increase, and one does indeed come, you won’t be able to keep up.
Processing orders requires firm processes and clear communication in order to get it done in time. When more orders than normal come through your store, keeping to the processes can be difficult.
Order processing speed can slow down the entire delivery process. If orders are picked and packed slower than usual, the deliveries will be delayed and are much more likely to arrive after the estimated time.
4. Maintaining a good experience
Another major challenge during holiday deliveries is maintaining a good delivery experience with every parcel, even when volumes are higher than normal.
A good delivery experience can mean the difference between a customer returning or not. If you offer a great first delivery experience, customers will come back to buy from your store in the future. If the experience is less than satisfactory, it might cause them to search out other sellers instead. Hence, keeping every delivery as good as the last is very important to your success now and in the future.
5. Managing returns and exchanges
Finally, another holiday challenge you might face has not to do with delivery, but with the opposite. Unfortunately, not all buyers will love their products, and managing this falls under your responsibility. Returns and exchanges can feel like a hassle during the holidays but they are just as important.
Maintaining an easy return experience is just as important as offering a great delivery experience in the first place. Although it can be difficult to manage returns or exchanges on top of the additional orders, it shows that buyers can trust you. A great delivery experience makes it more likely that buyers will come back to buy from you again in the future, even if their first product wasn’t a great fit.
How to Complete Last-Minute Deliveries
Since last-minute deliveries are sure to roll in, it’s better to be prepared than try to avoid them. If you can handle these last minute buyers, there will be nothing stopping you from having a successful peak season.
Here are our top 5 tips for managing last minute deliveries this holiday season. And heads up: they can all be easily accomplished as long as you work with the right partners!
1. Optimize picking and packing processes
Firstly, we recommend optimizing your delivery processes before the volume picks up. Some of the most common reasons for deliveries to be late don’t have to do with the delivery themself, but what goes on beforehand.
Picking the products and packing them into shipping-appropriate boxes needs to be done in advance of the delivery, but when order volumes increase, it can be increasingly hard to manage. To optimize these pre-delivery processes, have firm protocols in place for who packs deliveries and how it’s done to avoid issues down the line.
These processes need to outline how items are packed and which employees are responsible for preparing them in time. This includes packaging, boxing, labeling, and anything else you might need to do before your items are ready to be delivered.
2. Use technology to your advantage
Technology is one advantage you should never overlook. Not only does it make it easier for you to have successful deliveries, but it makes the delivery experience much better for your customers.
Technology can streamline the delivery process in many ways. First of all, technology-based deliveries are more efficient and run much smoother. Driver routes can be optimized to use the least resources and time as possible, allowing more deliveries to take place in a single time frame.
On top of this, the way parcels are processed by more tech-advanced couriers removes the likelihood of parcels being lost or mishandled. When barcodes are scanned at every point of movement, including pick-up, hand-off to driver, drop-off and more in between. Hence, a much better account of everything is tracked means better delivery standards.
And finally, technology makes it much easier for the customer to know the exact ETA of their parcel. With live tracking features and updated push notifications, less customers will be left wondering where their parcel. Or even worse, if it is going to arrive at all. This not only affects customer satisfaction, but indirectly improves your on-time delivery rate since customers will know when to accept parcels (and let drivers into buildings or sign for packages if needed).
3. Provide clear ETAs
Clear ETAs can help in a variety of ways. Not only will it directly affect your overall delivery success, but it will also indirectly influence your customers’ experience with your store.
First, customers will be able to see themselves when their delivery will arrive, hence making them less likely to call you and inquire. This will lessen the workload put onto your customer support team and allow them to have more time for more important issues.
Second, clear ETAs make it much more likely customers will see when their parcel is supposed to arrive. Then, they can be ready to accept it, increasing the rate of on-time deliveries. Hence, by keeping customers in the loop and giving them an accurate estimated time of arrival, you can expect less failed deliveries.
4. Manage missteps
Managing missteps before they cause unavoidable problems is essential to managing any last-minute delivery.
Last-minute deliveries are the truest test of time. With only a few hours to get the parcel to the customer, you have to catch mistakes before they cause problems. Some of the major problems you might encounter are missing or incomplete addresses and missing parcels.
To stop these issues from causing major problems, like a failed delivery, you need to catch errors early on. For example, having a support team that makes sure all addresses are verified before creating routes and sending drivers out to customers. You could have system which checks all addresses are complete – street address, city, postal code, and unit number when needed. Or, you can ask customers to confirm their address before the agent is sent to their address.
These preliminary steps help reduce larger errors down the line. This is one of the most important things you can do when making sure your last-minute holiday deliveries are successful and on-time.
5. Offer real-time tracking
Real-time tracking is one of the most beneficial ways to make sure last-minute deliveries are handled correctly. Real-time tracking helps you avoid upset customers as well as unsuccessful deliveries.
Live delivery tracking can firstly limit the stress on your customer support team. When customers can accurately track deliveries on their own, they are much less likely to contact support. On another note, customers know when to expect parcel drop-offs and hence will be readily available to accept them. Hence, deliveries are more likely to be successful.
Delivering Same-Day With FlashBox
To give your customers the gift of on-time presents, same-day delivery can come in handy. Those last-minute shoppers are looking for solutions to their forgetfulness, and you can be their saviour if you offer exactly what they’re looking for.
All of these above tips can help you avoid problems during the holiday season and make sure your customers receive a high quality delivery experience. What is crucial to last-minute deliveries is making sure they arrive on-time. As you know, delivering them late can put a dent in your customers’ holidays. Hence, you need to do everything you can do to avoid failed deliveries.
The best way to allow customers to receive their last-minute deliveries in time for the holidays is to offer FlashBox same-day delivery. With FlashBox, parcels are delivered on the same day they’re placed for delivery. This means customers can shop until just days before Christmas and don’t need to worry about receiving orders after the holidays.
Ready to make use of the best way to please your customers this holiday season? Get started with FlashBox today to make even those last minute orders easy.
Want to stay up to date with other tips and tricks to benefit your business? Follow us on social media!