MetaPack produces a Peak Index Summary, which tracks the number of UK retail parcels are being shipped per week on approach to Christmas and compares the trend for parcels across the previous 3 years to provide a fairly good indication of how Christmas 2013 may unfold.
The key observations for this coming Chrismas is that with it falling on a Wednesday, there leaves 2 working days on which deliveries can be made after the weekend. And looking at the trends for previous 3 years, the week before Christmas 2013 is likely to be busy than ever!
What does this means for the online retailer?
With customers high expectations about fast and reliable deliveries and the increasing trend that shoppers do actually leave gift buying to the last minute, this is likely to result in significant compression of both sales volume and parcel deliveries in the last few days before Christmas.
The great news for retailers is that this is the time of year where new customers will discover your brand and products as they shop for gifts for their loved ones. However with your current shoppers and new customers both possibly last minute shopping for the perfect present at the same time there is a strong possibility of disappointing both with late deliveries as both your fulfilment and delivery operations struggle under the pressure.
What can you do about peak sales compression?
- Use your own data or that provided by the index to forecast what your peak order and parcel flow might look like so that you are prepared
- Assess what this volume of orders and parcels means for your systems and processes: is there sufficient capacity?
- Make sure that there is sufficient capacity in place for delivery: a contingency carrier (or two) can really help this time of year
- Provide incentives for your current customers to shop with you earlier and help them to choose products more effectively: if you don’t have an abandoned basket email, now is a good time to start.
- Consider the timing of when the Christmas cut-off date is presented to customers on your website: too earlier and you customers will think they have all the time in the world.