There is a growing sense in the logistics industry that during the busiest periods online retailers need to be more realistic about order fulfilment times even if that means the internet shopping-addicted public’s delivery expectations may need some adjustment as a result, writes William Walker.
Anticipating a huge spike in sales in the run up to last year’s Black Friday, Tesco added a holding page on its website letting would-be shoppers know that due to high demand they might experience delays to online deliveries and collections.
Will others follow this laudably honest approach or is the fear that such warnings on websites will only serve to drive the punters away too strong?
As with most real-life situations honesty has to be the best policy.
While it is easy to understand why the prospect of losing a sale might stop some companies from alerting customers to the possibility that the goods they were about to click to buy might not be with them within the time frame specified it is definitely in an online retailer’s best long term interests to ‘promise low and deliver high’ if they want customers to return to their site.
However, 3PLs need to be honest with their retail clients too and work closely with them to highlight any potential pinch points in their process that might result in delays, particularly at peak periods.
At he busiest times 3PLs will, for example, need to assess if any temporary staff that have been added to the workforce to cope during the liveliest times are capable of achieving the same ‘pick rates’ as their more experienced colleagues. If the answer is ‘no’ this is likely to result in delayed order despatch.
Thanks to the professionalism that runs through large parts of the UK’s logistics sector most online shoppers have a positive experience even during the most hectic periods of the year.
But for retailers a carefully worded website message explaining that because order volumes are going to be high for a period of time there could be a slight delay to the delivery period stated does seem like a sensible way of keeping customer satisfaction levels high and avoiding accusations of poor service for their 3PL partner.
William Walker is sales and marketing director of Walker Logistics, Berkshire-based specialist supply chain services operator.