The ‘five golden rings’ of a successful Christmas supply chain strategy

By examining the ecommerce trends of 2016, retailers can better prepare themselves for 2017's holiday shopping season.

With just a few days to go until the ‘big day’ we are coming towards the end of the busiest period in the ecommerce calendar. Here at NetDespatch, we’ve seen record numbers of parcels processed over the last two months as ecommerce in the UK continues to grow at impressive rates.

In light of the festive period, we’ve put together our ‘five golden rings’ that reflects on some of the trends we’ve seen in 2016 and how retailers can build on this going into 2017.   

1. Omnichannel

In today’s ‘always-connected’ world, expectations have evolved to a level where customers’ demand that retailers have the capability to deliver the same experience across all of its channels, including fulfillment and despatch. 

The major challenge, however, is that the expectation of instant consumer gratification has tremendous ramifications for retailers as they attempt to ensure that their supply chain is robust enough to deliver. 

Advanced delivery solutions such as timed delivery or delivery to a location of the consumers choice, can help to harmonise the delivery process whatever the chosen sales channels and will enable retailers to maximise the time before deadlines such as Christmas cut-off dates.   

2. Visibility

With the growing demands of the consumer, the ability to provide visibility and control over their parcels is becoming more of a hygiene factor in the highly competitive ecommerce market. 

Consumers want to be able to track their parcel at various points in its journey, and have a clear understanding of when their parcel will arrive. Setting a consumer's expectation is important in the first instance but what is more essential is meeting the expectation that has been set. 

3. Flexible delivery windows   

Customers expect to be able to have their product or service when and where they want it and likewise sometimes there isn’t a rush for delivery.   

Some items bought over the peak period might be purchases that can wait, so retailers can give consumers the option to receive them more slowly than normal or reward those that buy their gifts in plenty of time meaning that they can be sent via a more economical delivery service.   

In any case, technology must support and enable different approaches in order to achieve a seamless process during the year’s busiest period. 

4. Multiple delivery options   

Now, more than ever, consumers are favouring alternative delivery options over traditional home delivery. If retailers are to be successful during peak periods it is imperative they take advantage of the multitude of delivery options available.

Our recent research found that 78% of consumers are now choosing alternative delivery options for their goods such as lockers, convenience stores, the Post Office and Click&Collect. Only 22% said that delivery to home or work is the only delivery option they consider. This is quite a sea change from a few years back when delivery to home or work was the most desired option.  

5. Seamlessly integrated ecommerce system

No matter what size a retailer may be, ensuring it has a seamlessly integrated despatch operation, will greatly benefit the business, especially when operations get busier over peak.   

If systems are not seamlessly integrated, then the information provided by the consumer may need to be manually re-entered, perhaps into multiple systems, which slows down the whole process, increases costs, as well as the risk of human error, and thus the likelihood of failed or delayed deliveries.   

Conclusion

These ‘golden rings’ are just a few of the trends that we’ve seen this year and no doubt there will be plenty more food for thought for retailers when the dust settles. 2016 has been another strong year for ecommerce in the UK, there are still plenty of improvements that can be made as we move into 2017, but as we continue to closely embrace technology to meet the ever-growing consumer demands we’re sure 2017 will bring more joy to consumers and retailers alike. 

Matthew Robertson, co-CEO, NetDespatch   

Image Credit: Anchiy / Shutterstock


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matthew Robertson is the co-CEO of NetDespatch.