This holiday season, when online shopping volumes are expected to hit all-time highs, a main concern among brands and retailers is ensuring their customers get their packages in time for gift giving. Based on experiences in Q2, when many traditional delivery providers were unable to keep up with the surge of orders, it is reasonable for retailers to be concerned.
“Early in COVID, we saw our deliveries substantially delayed,” says one FitForCommerce retailer client. “But our customers didn’t care that we had no control over what was going on in the shipping facility. They were frustrated with us.”
Are you ready for the operational challenges that will surely come with extra volume during the holidays? At FitForCommerce, we anticipate that the combination of increased orders, continued social distancing among workers in shipping facilities, and other delivery challenges will lead to:
increased carrier lead time and package delays,
increased calls to customer service via phone and online, and
constraints on fulfillment center capacity and manpower.
But don’t fret. We have the holiday shipping contingency list you’ll need – and we’ve already checked it twice.
Dealing with longer carrier lead times
Update your site to communicate clearly on package delivery lead times, especially cut-off dates for Christmas delivery.
Plan on call volume increasing with revenue and add staff as needed. Consider using store staff knowledgeable on product to handle overflow calls.
Consider implementing technology solutions that can enable you to extend call center support staff, like chatbots.
Review your Customer Call Center Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and have a plan to react if they are missed. A good rule of thumb for Contact Center SLAs is as follows:
Average speed to answer 80% =< 20 sec
Abandon call rate =< 5%
One call resolution 85% of the time
Email response within 24 hours (1 business day)
A great way to answer customer questions and create customer engagement with your site is user-generated Q&A. FitForCommerce found that 34% of retailers in the FitForCommerce Omnichannel Retail Index have user-generated Q&A.
Work with your fulfillment providers to project revenue and staffing.
Review and reinforce fulfillment service levels and review store training manuals.
Project out Holiday BOPIS / Curbside revenue by week. Work with Store Operations to ensure they are aware and prepared for anticipated increases.
Be able to rapidly confirm receipt of customer orders and inform customers when products are ready for pick up.
Consider ship-from-store: this practice extends inventory and improves delivery lead times.