Retailers and delivery partners need to work together to manage “Black Friday” volumes, warns GFS
Global Freight Solutions (GFS) has warned that retailers need to be more open with their delivery partners about expected sales if consumers are to avoid a repeat of problems experienced during last year’s pre-Christmas peak period. In a statement issued to PostandParcel today, GFS claimed that e-commerce operators failing to provide clarity about seasonal business risk stretching delivery capacity to “breaking point”.
Simon Veale, a director with GFS, has suggested that poor internal communication between some retailers’ sales and supply chain divisions could result in their having insufficient contingency to cope with spiralling online orders.
He added that even though preparations were now “well advanced” for this year’s peak, a number of retailers appeared not to have learned lessons from the unexpectedly high sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2014. According to the recently-published annual GFS Review, there was a 37.5% increase in online orders over the last weekend in November (the four days that included both Black Friday and Cyber Monday), generating 10 million parcels for the domestic delivery network to process.
Veale commented: “Black Friday and Cyber Monday are now regarded as accepted elements of the UK’s annual surge in online shopping during November and December.
“However, the business of forecasting delivery capacity to meet expected sales volumes can only really be effective if the operations staff providing the information by which the level of carrier support is determined are fully aware of what plans a retailer’s sales or marketing teams have in store.
“A more informed discussion would also enable retailers to advise consumers about the ability to defer deliveries or use alternative delivery methods in order to avoid the sort of parcel congestion which was apparent around Black Friday last year.
“The carriers have certainly made great efforts to be able to better prepare themselves. By being clearer with consumers and carriers about what is expected, retailers can also help themselves.
“It is by no means an issue which is common to every single retailer but there are some in which the matter is clearly more pronounced – and, therefore, more of a potential problem – than others.
“The need to do so is arguably even more acute this year than last, given the expectation that parcel volumes generated by e-commerce during the annual peak season will rise by 15% compared with 2014 and the fact that although much of City Link’s business has been assumed by other carriers since it ceased trading last December, that closure still means less capacity to handle a lot more parcels.”
The greater adoption of alternative delivery methods, including ‘click and collect’, parcel lockers and convenience stores, argued Veale, could be a “safety valve” to help reduce the pressure on the delivery network. The GFS Checkout system, added Veale, allows retailers “to offer a more extensive menu of conventional and alternative delivery methods” to consumers.
Veale concluded: “Having a number of different delivery methods available and adequate information about how and when to use them can spread the strain and defuse issues which arise when goods don’t turn up as they should.”