While children around the world worry if they are on the naughty or nice list, businesses that make deliveries are making sure they have all their ducks in a row for the coming onslaught of orders for same-day delivery.
Interestingly (but not entirely surprising), the Holiday Season is the most popular time for same-day delivery. If you think about it, it makes a lot of sense – putting off buying that special somebody a gift until the very last minute, or realizing you don’t have that cooked ham for your Christmas dinner.
If there was ever a time that a business would benefit from same-day delivery, it is the Holiday Season. And the big merchants, online and off, are catching on. Companies such as Amazon, Walmart, Kohls, and others are all jumping on the bandwagon.
However, offering same-day delivery, especially in the busy season, can be a very difficult task.
2013 was a low point in Amazon’s history. It was that year that, due to an unexpected surge in last-minute shopping, Amazon was unable to get some customers their deliveries in time for Christmas.
The holiday season of 2013 should serve as a cautionary tale. The field of businesses offering same-day delivery is growing by the minute, and each one has its own set of challenges when it comes to being operationally prepared for holiday deliveries.
In fact, eBay ended up killing eBay Now, it’s same-day delivery service due in part to not anticipating all the challenges of same-day delivery. Whether it be logistics, man-power, communication, or technology, same-day delivery requires a business to be fully streamlined in their operations.
68% of retailers say they feel unprepared to offer shipping options such as same-day delivery. Unfortunately, prepared or not, the expectation of customers to be offered the option of same-day delivery is real.
So what can be done to prepare?
- Test your site
If your company does most (or any) of its business through an online outlet, whether it be your own store or through a POS, it’s important to test your ordering page and make sure everything is working so that you can handle a spike in orders.
Things to look for include:
1. Site is loading quickly
2. Menu/Inventory items are named correctly
3. Orders go through correctly
4. Any holiday sale prices are added
Site loading speed, in particular, is an issue that should be looked at. You can check out sites like Webpagetest to see if and why your slight is loading slowly.
- Make sure you are well staffed
It goes without saying that a significantly higher than average volume of orders might require you to increase your staff, even on a temporary basis. That is not to say that this is an absolute must, another option would be to have more drivers on call over the time period between Thanksgiving and New Years in order to handle the additional work load.
- Project based on last year
When looking back at your business from this time last year, make sure to take note of the amount of orders you received, as well as the delivery options they chose. It’s important to remember that the desire for same-day increases every year, so you will want to assume that the demand will be higher this holiday season.
Make sure to analyze from Black Friday all the way through Christmas day – there are plenty of people who really wait until the last minute, literally.
A good rule of thumb is assuming a 5-6% increase year over year in terms of orders over the holiday season.
- Make sure you have sufficient inventory
Depending on the type of business you run, you will want to stock up on inventory that will be hot sellers over the holidays. If you are an eCommerce retailer, gift items such as jewelry or children’s toys would be something to look at. The newest gadgets are always popular, so be sure to have ample stock ready for the holidays.
Utilize your projections for sales in order to identify how much to stock your inventory, and with what items.
- Implement all the necessary technology for same-day delivery
Even the most prepared business will fall short if they do not have the necessary technological tools as part of their delivery management ecosystem. In the on-demand era, those tools include:
Dispatch Management Dashboard: A comprehensive dashboard the plugs directly into your POS or online ordering site. Whenever an order is placed, it should automatically be routed through your dashboard and dispatched to the most optimal driver.
Driver Mobile Application: A smartphone application that connects delivery drivers with dispatch, as well as enables them to communicate directly with the end-customer. It should have task notifications and GPS navigation as part of the overall offering.
On-Demand Customer Experience: Customers expect full visibility over when their order will arrive, ala Uber. The ideal system would send a notification to customers when their item is on its way, and prompt them to open an HTML 5 (no download necessary) application that gives them an “Uber-like” view of their driver and his or her whereabouts, as well as an exact ETA.