The festive period is often the busiest for many brands and businesses. With this increased demand comes an increased strain on the supply chain, potentially having a negative impact on customer experiences. So, what can companies do to help the flow of products coming off the shelves and arriving at customers’ houses?
The Stakes Are High
According to Accenture, 57% of consumers will not shop with a retailer again if they are let down this Christmas, but 40% of shoppers have incredibly high expectations of fast and free deliveries. With this in mind, is there anything that businesses can do to ensure their customers are happy?
One of the main changes that some make during the festive period to relieve a bit of pressure, is to hire external shipping companies to help. Why not send presents straight from your door to theirs via courier? It’s quick, simple and the process to get an account set up is relatively straightforward. That leaves you to simply pick and pack their order and get everything ready for collection.
Using a courier or several different ones, will allow you to send different sized boxes of different weights all at once too. This could be very beneficial and may also save you on costs, which is what we all want at the end of the day.
Other Ways You Can Deal With Demand
Another sure-fire way to make sure you have enough stock in place for the Christmas rush is to take a look at last year’s figures, if you have them. This will allow you to gage more accurately how much stock you will need and whether you need to increase your amounts.
Having more items readily available will also ensure you don’t have unhappy customers! There’s nothing worse than scouring the internet, only to find that what you’re looking for is out of stock, especially this time of year.
No matter whether you sell toys that will sit under the Christmas tree, bits and pieces for the home or something for the grownups, don’t let your delivery service be the downfall of your festive season. Get your ducks in a row now and watch your festive season be as plain sailing as it can be.
Communication Is Key
If your customer doesn’t receive an item from you by the expected date, and hasn’t heard from you, it stands to reason that they’re not going to be happy.
If you’re having trouble fulfilling an order, or know it’s going to be delayed then let the customer know. This gives them the opportunity to cancel their order and look elsewhere or wait for their order to arrive.
While losing a customer for not being able to fulfil their order on this occasion isn’t ideal, they will appreciate your honesty in reaching out to them and will know that you’re someone they can trust and will come back to you in the future.
There’s nothing worse as a customer than going through the process of choosing your items going all the way through the checkout process and then finding out that there are long delivery times.
Make sure that you let your customers know what your estimated shipping timescales are well before they get to the checkout process.
You might think that this may put some people off shopping – and it may indeed do that – but customers that choose to shop with you will be less likely to abandon their carts half-way through the purchase process.
Send out an email reminding customers of your delivery schedule, add banners to the homepage/sidebar of the site and place a reminder before the checkout so that people are aware of how long their items will take to ship.
Invest In Customer Service
Finally, it’s likely that you will receive a lot more communications from customers over the festive period so you may want to think about adding temporary workers to manage your phone lines/email responses so that you are able to deal with the increased volume in a timely manner.
If your budget can’t stretch to extra man-power then consider adding a dedicated Christmas FAQ section to your website which should cover the most common queries. When a customer emails you, send an automated response directing them to the FAQ, if they still have queries they can fill out a dedicate form that can be routed to a priority email address.
Also make sure to keep an eye on your social media accounts as a lot of customers will contact you via Facebook and Twitter – again you can point them to your FAQs page and have them fill out the priority contact form if they still have any questions.
While customer usually expect a merchant to get their order right and delivered on time, if you keep them informed they will appreciate your honesty. Not only does this build trust with your brand it means that they can think about an alternative product where necessary so that their Christmas isn’t ruined – and believe it or not they will appreciate your for it. You may miss out on this sale but you will be fostering a relationship built on trust and that can go a long way in increasing brand loyalty.