Retailers and delivery companies are braced for Cyber Monday – reckoned to be the busiest day of the year for online sales – amid reports that online deliveries are up 22 per cent on last year.
According to Visa, £360,000 is expected to be spent every minute on Black Friday (28th November) – with a further £281 million forecast to be spent on the busiest day for online shopping; Cyber Monday (1st December).
And the IMRG MetaPack Delivery Index suggests that UK retailers have been dispatching online orders at a rate that is 22 per cent higher year-to-date than in 2013.
Darrel Williams, region director of Honeywell Vocollect Solutions, has warned that this is only one of a number of peaks that retailers and their logistics suppliers face over the Christmas period.
MetaPack has predicted that there will be four delivery peaks in the run up to Christmas, starting with Cyber Monday, the largest, and taking in the next three Mondays.
But Williams pointed out that there would be another peak in January as goods were returned after Christmas. And that would be followed by a sixth surge for replacement goods.
“Humans can only do so much,” he said, pointing out that voice technology gave the flexibility and agility to enable companies to deal with the peaks.
“We have been working with our customers and planning for this for more than six months,” he said.
Good planning and preparation last year meant that the Christmas peak was not a problem for customers, he said pointing out that voice technology enabled warehouse workers quickly to become expert in a range of different tasks from picking to put-away.
Andrew Starkey, IMRG’s head of e-logistics, said: “All the indications are that more than 210 million online parcels will be sent out during November and December by UK retailers alone.”
The importance of accurate forecasting has been highlighted by Paul Doble, chief sales and marketing officer at DX.
“Throughout the busy Christmas trading season, retailers must try to forecast as accurately as possible the volumes that will need to be sent, and then communicate these expectations to their logistics partners, who will take up a huge percentage of this volume,” he said.
“The alternative is the situation many retailers have faced in previous years, where through a combination of inaccurate planning, poor communication and unanticipated weather conditions, demand outstrips capacity and leaves retailers unable to meet their promises to online shoppers. It’s a problem that is often exacerbated when retailers try to maximise the online shopping window, pushing back their Christmas order deadlines and thereby drastically increasing the risk of delayed deliveries when bad weather and other factors disrupt the supply chain.”
Doble said: “When Christmas presents fail to arrive, it will be the retailer that bears the brunt of disgruntled Customers and negative publicity. As such, retailers need to be asking themselves the question: just how robust are my Christmas delivery plans?”