Proper procedures must be in place

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EVERYONE hates Christmas shopping so it came as no surprise in the run-up to last year’s festive season that consumers would turn to the Internet to purchase their goods. Yet this fairy story did not have a happy ending – hundreds of thousands of goods were not delivered on time, leaving large numbers of consumers rushing to the high street for last their minute Christmas shopping.

In the West Midlands, problems were further compounded when an express parcels company suddenly went into administration.

So what went wrong, especially when Internet shopping is enjoying major growth? It seems two critical areas were to blame – companies failed to ensure plenty of stock to meet demand, and proper procedures covering receipt of order through to delivery were not in place.

So, what must companies which are selling consumer goods on the Internet do to ensure this fiasco never happens again? The answer is collaboration. Businesses must consult with their IT suppliers in order to develop and ensure that the right forecasting systems are in place. They must also look at their receipt and delivery procedures and make changes where necessary, again by discussing them with their IT suppliers and distribution department or third-party logistics provider.

Questions must also be asked about Royal Mail’s performance in the run-up to Christmas especially as it seemed unable to cope with the increase in volumes. Perhaps it too needs to look at its systems and procedures, especially now that it is coming under increasing competition not just for its parcels business, but letters as well. n

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