Christmas: Preparing for Peak in the Logistics Industry

Peak periods for logistics

Retail is an ever-evolving industry constantly under pressure, particularly during peak periods. With today’s consumers more connected than ever, the way they shop is evolving. Shoppers are increasingly adopting a ‘buy now, return later’ approach, as home styling and wardrobing become more prevalent. Consumers view their homes as fitting rooms and expect the end-to-end service a retailer provides to be as quick and easy as possible, and that includes returns.

With Christmas just around the corner, consumers are expecting fast, seamless deliveries, and it’s the retail logistics industry who has a mandate to make this a reality.

Tony Mannix, CEO at Clipper takes us through the challenges of the Christmas peak when it comes to retail logistics:

Christmas is a challenging time for everyone involved in the retail supply chain. Every year, we see the impact the festive peak has not only on the pre-Christmas orders, but on post-Christmas returns too.

Across the Christmas period, there’s strong consumer preference for buying online. Consumers are always looking for convenience when shopping and now, 72% of UK shoppers use click and collect services when shopping online because of the flexibility it offers, combined with the cost when compared with home delivery.

However, with an influx of pre-Christmas orders, comes an influx of post-Christmas returns – creating a real challenge for retailers when January comes around. Returned goods tie up a huge amount of stock and working capital and can become a retailer’s biggest single inbound source of supply, presenting significant operational challenges. 

The returns process plays a large role in the consumer’s purchasing decision, with 64% of customers likely to repurchase if you offer a ‘free return’ service. The customer wants a quick, easy turnaround whilst being updated from the retailer at every step. They expect to be provided with a printed returns label and reusable packaging to post their items back at no extra cost. For retailers, this means that speed of return and its conversation to Grade A stock quickly is imperative.

Clipper’s processes are designed to support the retailer both through these seasonal peaks and outside of them, by utilising original sales data to match the returned goods to the consumer’s account, quality-check the product and provide data to the parent systems in real time. This technology provides the retailer with the critical information required to allow credit processing. It also provides real-time stock status and visibility information.

This is based on the philosophy that it is imperative to deliver the convenience customers expect when going through the returns process, without adding extra cost and complexity to the supply chain, especially at peak.