In order for retailers to meet the high standards imposed by holiday shoppers, encouraging transparency between themselves and their logistics partners is essential.
Complete visibility of the supply chain is one thing, but allowing third-party logistics companies to synchronize their inventory management systems with merchant point-of-sale solutions will bolster their ability to perform several critical functions, such as:
- Prioritizing returns
- Rerouting or canceling a shipment after an order is submitted
- Maximizing truck load capacity to reduce shipping waste
No patience for inaccuracies
Voxware, a developer of voice-based technology for distribution center personnel, conducted a study of how 500 consumers choose to shop with merchants. The research focused on the attitudes and sentiments retail customers carry during the holiday season, showing the following statistics:
- A large majority (86 percent) of respondents maintained their expectations regarding correct and on-time product delivery are much higher during the holidays.
- If an item purchased online or by phone has not arrived within two days of the expected delivery date, 69 percent of participants stated they were either "much less" or "less' likely to give a merchant their business.
- Sixteen percent of consumers will refuse to buy products from a merchant altogether if they receive an item they did not purchase.
- Less than half (44 percent) of respondents said they expect items to arrive at their doorsteps within five to six days of submitting an order.
- Forty-five percent of consumers set a standard of three to four business days as the amount of time it should take for holiday deliveries to arrive.
How to keep operations running smoothly
Despite the high expectations of holiday shoppers, that's no reason for merchants to panic. When vetting logistics companies for their ability to support the services you're trying to provide, it's important to look for supply chain management professionals with the following assets and capabilities:
- Radio-frequency identification technology: RFID systems, while often confused with barcode technology, provide both shippers and distributors with accurate information regarding products. The dates on which an item left a warehouse, was returned, was produced and other time-sensitive data can all be included.
- Central navigation solutions: Knowing exactly which goods a truck is carrying is necessary, but being able to re-route these vehicles after a storm or other disruption occurs is equally critical. Winter storms are nothing to take for granted.
In addition, procuring the products necessary to satisfy projected sales is a responsibility every merchant should take into consideration.