What to expect in logistics ahead of Christmas 2021
Every year, October marks the commencement of the peak period for retail in the lead up to Black Friday, Christmas and the subsequent New Year sales period. This year there are a number of concerns over supply issues, thanks to the onset of the pandemic which also coincided with the implementation of Brexit; the global supply chain has been experiencing a number of bottlenecks.
Across Europe and the US a number of high street retailers are experiencing issues in meeting demand. There are a number of contributing factors, but COVID outbreaks have caused setbacks and port closures in China and a decline in HGV drivers in the UK has slowed down supply chain performance; however online sales are still expected to be retained as shoppers favour the internet over shopping ‘in person’.
There is a lot of talk this year about shopping early rather than later and this is due to shortages and longer shipping times. Shoppers are less likely to be disappointed if they start their shopping imminently, as backlogs continue at ports and truck shortages in the UK could lead to further delays domestically too. The key for retailers is to communicate with their customers and shoppers in order to avoid disappointment and encourage open dialogue about potential delays.
With this in mind preparation is key, keeping an eye on stock levels and optimising warehouse space will allow businesses to keep on top of stock levels and where demand lies. Encouraging customers to pre order items can help to monitor demand too.
Businesses are now benefiting from ‘advanced, real time’ warehousing software to manage stock levels and working closely with suppliers also helps in order to replenish stock as quickly as possible. Thankfully the pandemic has taught us all a valuable lesson in being prepared and curating a ‘just in case’ approach to supply chain management.
Customers have started to become accustomed to these delays as they are a global issue, therefore the key is not to lose a customer due to lack of availability once you have them, offering exceptional customer service is what will encourage them to stay. Offer transparency and follow up on orders to help your customers feel involved in the full process of getting their goods to them.
As we have all become accustomed to a world where we can get what we want when we want it at our desired price, we are all having to adjust to this new way of shopping. The positive in all this is that everyone is in the same position and the past 2 years have prepared us all for these inevitable shortages, delays and setbacks. As long as preparation and communication is key, we should continue to deliver to our customers both in customer service and any other service or product they wish to obtain.