The Christmas season is without a doubt the busiest time of year for retailers. Between stocking shelves, rolling out marketing campaigns and fine-tuning staffing, there is a lot going on. But making sure your items are delivered properly shouldn’t be one of those issues. New Zealand Couriers gives insights and experience of how to manage your Christmas volumes.
Core retail spend for December in 2017 was up 3.7 percent on the year before to $5.8 billion, according to shopper marketing agency Energi’s Christmas shopping habits report.
Retail activity surrounding the Christmas season is only continuing to grow, with online spending for local sites increasing 7 percent as consumers buy sooner and sooner. Although seeing a spike in spending activity now starting closer to October, NZ Couriers’ Auckland regional manager, Rohan Jessiman, says retailers can begin to prepare for the Christmas rush all year round to get ahead of customers’ high delivery expectations. “Christmas isn’t the only busy time of year anymore. The more accurate information that retailers can get from their customers up front, and the more they can educate customers about the various convenient delivery options, the better off they will be throughout the year.”
According to the study, 20 percent of shoppers start their holiday buying before October, with 51 percent finishing within the last week. This extended shopping period means planning, ordering and delivering is happening more frequently while expectations surrounding delivery also rise.
“With the increase in ‘shopping holidays’ such as Black Friday and Singles Day sales, we’re seeing more busy periods that can take retailers by surprise if they’re not adequately prepared for the surge in freight,” says Jessiman.
Preparing for the surge in business, and subsequently freight, can be helped with proper communication from both sides. “The more effectively retailers can communicate delivery options and timeframes to their customers”, says Jessiman, “the more smoothly customers’ expectations can be met.”
“One of the best things a retailer can do in the lead up to an expected increase in freight volumes is talk to your courier company. They may be able to adjust clearance times or increase capacity, so the more notice you give them, the better they’ll be able to make sure their outgoing freight is collected as efficiently as possible.”
Jessiman explained that following each holiday period New Zealand Couriers reviews how things went and immediately start planning for the next one, so the company can prepare its teams, and the retailers it works with, to achieve the most efficient result for delivery during busy periods.
“In the lead up to Christmas we organise increases in labour across our depots and branches, as well as an increased number of planes, trucks and courier vehicles to move the freight” he says.
“We work alongside many of our customers to ensure we organise operational plans in advance and run regular campaigns through the year to inform our customers of the many first-time delivery options available, such as ‘Authority to Leave’ and access to our parcel collection network throughout New Zealand.”
In Jessiman’s New Zealand Couriers experience, a smooth-running delivery system during busy periods comes down to proactive preparing and planning with customers.
“Each year we also look for opportunities to help our customers work with their own customers to manage their Christmas volumes. Such suggestions include upping inventory earlier on, so smaller more frequent top-ups are required rather than significant replenishments, setting customer expectations with cut-off times, and suggested last shopping days for delivery before Christmas.”
Jessiman stresses that proper communication is key for being as prepared as possible to meet the demands of a busy Christmas period. The information and education that New Zealand Couriers can offer in preparation for the busy period can help answer questions and sooth nerves as the next holiday season approaches.