What are you doing now to avoid losing customer loyalty due to poor holiday delivery experiences?

Have you finished your Christmas shopping yet?

It’s the question of the moment, isn’t it?

For most of us, doing our shopping online is just par for the course.

Between Amazon, eBay and independent online retailers, you can find the perfect gift for just about everyone on the internet.

In fact, eCommerce holiday sales are projected to grow 11% to 15% in 2021 compared to 2020 according to Deloitte.

In a year blighted by supply chain issues, the ongoing pandemic, dramatic weather events, fuel panics, and driver shortages, we all know how hard it is to deliver OTIF (on-time, in-full).

But for retailers, the most magical time of the year puts the pressure on to get everything under the tree by the 25th – without even a mince pie and a carrot for thanks!

Holiday shipping & supply chain disruptions

Between an increase in online purchasing, and a shortage of operational workers (from manufacturing, to warehousing & distribution, to the final mile), the pandemic has had a huge impact on all parts of the global supply chain.

But what does that mean for retailers this festive season?

While consumers may be more accustomed to supply chain disruptions than ever before, that doesn’t necessarily mean that customers are okay with delivery delays – especially if they have an impact on Christmas gifting.

The other side of supply chain issues becoming better understood by consumers, of course, is that retailers are also expected to be able to anticipate and plan for disruptions.

Here’s how you can fulfil the Christmas delivery promise – without a magical reindeer and sleigh:

Establish trust with customers

First, being upfront and clear about your shipping and returns policy is half the battle to creating customer loyalty.

In fact, 56% of consumers say they are more likely to make a purchase if they can see the estimated delivery date in the basket, and 46% count lengthy shipping delays as one of their greatest holiday shopping concerns in 2021 according to research conducted by Convey entitled Supply Chain Struggles Go Mainstream: What Brands Need to Know About 2021 Holiday Shopping.

Make the promises you know you can deliver – and then deliver on them.

Offer alternatives

If you know you won’t be able to fulfil a next-day home delivery promise to all your customers, don’t make that the most enticing option.

By making free delivery options more flexible, customers can pay a premium for expedited or nominated-day delivery, to enable the most efficiency in delivery routes.

By offering options like click-and-collect or deliver-to-store, you can further maximise efficiency by delivering multiple orders to a single location, with less chance of missed delivery.

Flexibility to scale

Sometimes, delivery delays are due to basic short-staffing issues.

Whether that’s due to drivers out sick with positive Covid tests, the HGV driver shortage, or because peak season has increased delivery requirements beyond your current capacity.

You need to be able to scale up your workforce with temps and subcontractors as the delivery season hits its peak.

Equally, optimising routes, runs and loads makes it easier to scale up operations without needing to scale up resources.

Communication is key

Time and time again, research has shown that communication is the most essential part of a retailers’ delivery offering.

Over half (58%) of UK consumers demand real-time visibility of their online Christmas purchases, and 3/5 consumers say package tracking capabilities are important for their online holiday shopping.

Reduce customer anxiety by keeping them up-to-date with on-brand order & delivery tracking, right through the delivery process.

Resolve issues as soon as they do occur

Customer loyalty is built just as much by positive handling of a mistake or error, as it is by a completely smooth end-to-end service experience.

67%  of consumers say they are less likely to return to a retailer after a single negative delivery experience, but 82% listed getting an issue resolved quickly as a top factor in making a great customer service experience.

Proactively resolving delivery issues, with ePOD recording time, date and location stamps, as well as photos and notes, goes a long way to improving customer satisfaction.

Peak-season challenges, combined with ongoing challenges arising from the pandemic make for a uniquely challenging festive season in 2021.

The time-crunch is on for retailers to fulfil the OTIF (on-time, in-full) delivery promise before the big day.

Are you ready to deliver?