How to Deliver a Record Breaking Surge in Flower Deliveries

By Paul Graham, Network Operations Director at Yodel

Time away from loved ones has undoubtedly been one of the hardest things about lockdown and for many sending gifts online has been one of the few ways to show some affection from a distance. At Yodel we have seen flower deliveries surge by 300% over the last year, with an exponential increase in the number of bouquets handled each week.

To use Valentine’s Day as an example, Yodel saw a record number of flowers delivered on Sunday 14th February, with deliveries up 77% on last year and more than 220,000 flowers delivered on the day. We’re expecting a similar trend for Mother’s Day with lockdown restrictions still in place across the country.

These dates are extremely important for the flower and logistics sectors as flowers are the top gifting choice, and they pose a particular challenge as they are often more emotive for the customers and require specialist handling due to their delicate nature. As we lead up to Mother’s Day, it’s a good time to look at the preparation required for successfully handling high volumes of flowers.  

Collaboration

The most important aspect of managing spikes in volume is effective communication with all partners. In logistics it is vital to have experienced and passionate client directors who truly understand our client base, their requirements, and how we can service those requirements. Open communication ensures we’re all on the same page with regards to volume, timings and service. 

Contingency Plans and Additional Resource

Even with all the planning and coordination that happens in the background, there are always factors that can’t be controlled and we have stringent contingency plans in place to be able to deal with all eventualities, with additional vehicles on standby. Our goal is to be able to complete all of our Mother’s Day deliveries by 4pm – five hours earlier than on a normal day – as we know how much this means to customers.

Lastly, it is very important that there are enough people on board ensuring the processes on the day run smoothly. From bolstering call centers to handle any additional enquiries from customers on the special day, to running trackers that monitor each service centre’s progress and help them manage every box of flower to a successful completion. For example, we work closely with Euroflorist throughout the year to plan accurately for the peak flower periods and through our detailed preparation we have been able to help them grow their business by over 60% YoY.

Delivery Drivers Going the Extra Mile

As the delivery driver is often the only physical interaction that the customer will have with an ecommerce business, the doorstep experience is a real focus and delivery drivers need to go the extra mile to ensure the flowers are delivered in perfect condition. It’s imperative that we are aware of these first impression moments, and the impact this can have on our client’s brand perception – this is why investing in driver training is vital.

Our couriers strive to ensure that every home delivery is successful on the first attempt using enhanced tracking and our Inflight service. Through Yodel Inflight, customers will be able to amend their delivery preferences right up to the point of delivery or deliver the flowers to an agreed safe place should the recipient not be at home during the delivery window. The interaction with the courier and the delivery of parcels is more important than ever when it comes to the perishable nature of flowers since they require first time delivery.

Targeted Investment in Technology

Targeted investment in technology is also key in ensuring the network is prepared for the spikes in demand. Superfast smart-phone scanning is a technology that has come to the forefront of the sector in the last year to support this. This gives more flexibility to the growing numbers of self-employed couriers out on the road who can download the app on their own device rather than having to get up to speed with a handheld terminal. Couriers and carriers have noted the usability, and the way it allows for a quick bar code scan – maintaining a slick confirmation of proof of delivery in real-time.  

We have also invested in Microlise technology whose software monitors speed, location and road traffic levels reporting the data to our state-of-the-art Business Control Tower which helps couriers make real-time decisions on routes and performance. Planning the right routes is crucial during flower peaks – data analysts have to create multiple routes as vans can’t accommodate as many boxes as a traditional working day because of the delicate nature of the bouquets.

Moving forward

This extended period of high demand presents several challenges and opportunities for the online retail industry. Constantly reviewing our approach and onboarding new learnings from previous peak seasons allow us to plan correctly. Having a cohesive supply chain and clear communication with our clients and consumers allows us to fulfill the expectations of our retail partners and customers, increasing brand loyalty.  

For more information about Yodel please visit https://www.yodel.co.uk/.

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