It’s November (or Blackvember as retailers are calling it) and the ecommerce peak season is about to hit. It’s always a stressful time for retailers – but with all the disruption the pandemic has brought to the retail industry and to customer behavior, this year promises to be more pressurized than ever.
At nShift, we help more than 95,000 customers manage their shipping and returns. So we know just how challenging the last two years have been for the retail industry, and just how much the ecommerce sector has had to adapt to keep up with increasing demand.
To help you stay one step ahead going into the 2021 sales holiday season, we’ve come up with some key predictions and recommendations for the months ahead, based on European shipping data gathered through our cloud-based delivery management platform.
Reduce the impact of extended delivery times by offering alternatives
Higher volumes of online orders are causing delivery times to increase. We saw the average number of days to deliver rise in 2020 compared to 2019 – and we expect the trend to continue in 2021. Unfortunately, today’s increasingly demanding consumers may not be willing to accept waiting longer for deliveries or having to pay extra to speed them up. So what can retailers do? We recommend including alternative delivery options at checkout, such as “Click & Collect” or “Collect in store”. The more options you have, the more likely you are to be able to fulfill your delivery proposition in a financially sustainable way. Your customers will thank you (especially as these delivery alternatives are typically free). Plus you’ll be driving large numbers of people into your stores, which gives you lots of opportunities to enhance the buying experience through relevant upselling and convenient try-and-return options.
Automate delivery management to mitigate rising costs
While the delivery cost per package remained fairly stable in 2020, especially in Sweden, Norway, Finland and the Netherlands, it did increase in countries such as UK. And we expect to see costs rising across Europe in 2021, due to increased energy costs, widespread labor shortages and the ongoing fallout from Brexit. One way retailers can keep costs to a minimum is by having a delivery management system in place that allows them to choose from a large carrier library (rather than always relying on only one or two carriers) and automatically manages shipping rules and label production. Automating manual shipping routines at the warehouse not only saves time and money but also cuts the likelihood of human error.