As we approach the Easter weekend once again, it is crucial that e-retailers question whether they have planned ahead sufficiently for the upcoming holiday in terms of fulfilment, delivery and logistics.
After the chaos of Black Friday in November and then Christmas, Easter is the next focused shopping period, and the first vital date of the new year for retailers to prove they can cope with an increase in demand to avoid losing customer trust.
Although Easter is a time for sending cards, chocolate and other gifts to family and friends, retailers shouldn’t forget that the traditional spring break also brings some fantastic retail opportunities. The long Easter weekend, with two national bank holidays, is an eggs-cellent time for home and garden retailers to grab consumers’ attention. Offers and promotions can kick-start spending after a quiet winter in terms of gardening, home and DIY purchases. The Easter period also marks the beginning of summer shopping for clothes and holiday items, as well as mid-season sales.
Keeping an eye on timeframes is important as there’s only a short gap this year between Easter and the first May bank holiday, which doesn’t leave much time for busy retailers to re-stock and prepare again in between.
Although bank holidays and seasonal sales can offer consumers extra shopping time, the simple fact that bank holidays are not always working days for couriers and delivery companies can cause delays and hiccups in the logistics process.
For all of these reasons, I know many e-retailers will be starting to panic that the rush will throw the smooth running of their business into disarray. However, there are a number of steps you can take to keep your customers happy and your business running seamlessly in the next couple of weeks. Here are my tips for an Easter free from delivery dramas:
Customers will always appreciate a gentle reminder that bank holidays can impact on their usual delivery experience. Firstly, make sure you understand yourself which carriers are delivering when, so that you can advise accordingly. Reminders can then be sent out in a pre-Easter email campaign, or simply placed somewhere prominent on your website.
Make sure customers know what your cut-off is, even if it’s earlier than you’d like to admit – it’s always better to avoid a disappointed customer!
2. Make sure you have options
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket! As events from last year showed, it can be dangerous to have no fall-back position in the event of a carrier disaster. Ask yourself, ‘if my favourite carrier has a problem next week, what will I do?’ If you don’t yet know the answer to this question, visit a price comparison delivery website to investigate which alternatives might be available for a similar cost.
3. Keep an ear to the ground
Listen out for updates from within the delivery and carrier industry, and keep abreast of any changes or issues that experts might flag up. If you hear a rumbling of any carrier difficulties in the next week or so, this is when you need to put your back up plan into action.
4. Watch your stock levels
If you are experiencing any hold-ups with stock over the next couple of weeks, let customers know. They will be disappointed to hear that a gift or product they ordered won’t arrive in time, but if they find out with enough warning they are far less likely to feel annoyed; at least they can initiate a plan B.
5. Make things easier for yourself
It can be extremely time-consuming and laborious to trawl through individual carrier websites to find the best delivery deals, particularly as they can fluctuate according to size, weight and number. There are much cheaper and efficient options through price comparison websites – the shopping around is done for you with better deals already negotiated.
David Grimes is managing director of My Parcel Delivery.