Centiro is warning that retailers risk further Black Friday headaches unless they manage their delivery networks effectively. Last year’s problems were too big to ignore, with many retailers and 3PLs already taking preventative measures to prepare themselves. The likes of Marks & Spencer and John Lewis have built standalone websites for the day, while Yodel has spent £20 million on a new website and back-end equipment, and onboarded 7,000 temporary staff for the Black Friday and Christmas periods. However, Centiro believes retailers and carriers will only be able to successfully meet the challenge presented by Black Friday if they have full visibility into their delivery networks and are able to effectively manage customer returns.
“It’s not just how much delivery capacity retailers have that will determine Black Friday success, it’s how they are able use it,” said Niklas Hedin, CEO of Centiro. “Retailers need greater insight into their carrier networks to understand exactly what delivery options they can offer, and set customer expectations accordingly. This might involve limiting available services to avoid overpromising something you can’t deliver. Customers are now demanding shorter order-to-delivery windows and greater choice over where goods are delivered to, so every missed delivery is damaging to retail brands.”
The ability to perform on Black Friday is make or break for retailers, according to figures from the JDA/Centiro Customer Pulse Report 2015. The survey of more than 2,000 UK adults revealed that more than half (56 percent) of online shoppers who experienced problems at peak times in the past 12 months, such as Black Friday and Christmas, would be unlikely to shop with the same retailer this year.
The research also revealed how the returns process is becoming ever critical: 63 percent said the ease of which they can return items factors into which retailers they choose to shop online with. Indeed, last year’s Black Friday saw a second wave of strain on carrier networks once everything had been delivered, when impulse shoppers returned unwanted items.
“With greater demands for choice coupled with increasing numbers of returns, a one-size-fits-all approach will not remedy Black Friday problems,” added Hedin. “Retailers need the insight into their carrier networks to offer a range of delivery options and handle returns effectively. To put it simply, retailers without good delivery network visibility at Black Friday are putting themselves at risk of serious long-term brand damage.”