Holiday sales: Logistics tips to guarantee a successful peak season

By Mohamed Said-Hoefer, Operations Director, UPS UK, Ireland and Nordics

Christmas is only a few weeks away and whilst the holiday season presents real opportunities for retailers, some business owners may feel overwhelmed with the prospect of a significant spike in sales. However, with the right measures in place a retailer’s Christmas period can quickly go from stressful to successful.

As a global smart logistics provider, UPS has extensive experience of planning for peak throughout the supply chain – from hiring additional staff to proactively managing customer expectations. Here are my top tips for retailers seeking a successful peak period:

1. Build a team to manage the surge
Hiring additional staff is an important part of managing increasing orders, whilst maintaining delivery commitments and a pleasant working environment for your employees. At UPS, to help support the increase in package volume, we are adding around 100,000 seasonal employees globally and have shortened their onboarding time with enhanced mobile training. Depending on company-size, a few extra hands can make a vast difference in busy retail times.

2. Review (and upgrade) your digital infrastructure
If your website is a key driver of commerce for your business, having a good digital infrastructure in place can help retailers achieve quick, easy wins to not only help improve the customer experience, but the overall logistics journey. We recommend that retailers ensure their website is easy-to-navigate and clearly communicates details such as delivery costs or lengthier shipping times – details that are particularly crucial during the holiday season. Retailers should also consider their customer base abroad, tapping into growing demand by translating their websites into multiple languages, including upfront shipping costs and communicating prices in different currencies. Small website upgrades like these greatly simplify the customer’s order and delivery journey, leading to greater customer satisfaction.

3. Offer flexibility, speed and convenience
Customer demands are rapidly evolving, and it’s never been easier to place orders wherever and whenever suits customers best. As a result, the percentage of total retail purchases made online continues to grow, especially during the Christmas season – our 2019 estimates show we will deliver more than 32 million packages per day in the U.S. and around the world. It’s even more important during the holidays to cater to customer demands, avoiding frustration and ensuring gifts arrive on time. As such, we recommend offering alternative and flexible delivery and drop-off options, such as UPS Access Point™ or UPS My Choice®.

4. Prepare for returns
Lastly, and often an overlooked part of the peak period, is an increase in returns. Businesses need to ensure that they have a good returns system in place ahead of time, in addition to managing customer expectations with regards to returns policies. An easy way to manage the influx of returns is by extending your returns policy and making sure your customer service team is easily contactable.

The peak period is an exciting and busy time that offers retailers a good opportunity to expand their customer base and fulfil additional orders. By putting the right preparations in place and closely collaborating with a trusted logistics partner, you can set yourself up with the greatest chance of Christmas success.

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