date16 November 2018

Is your business prepared for the winter retail season?

For several years now, the last two months of the year have been synonymous with massive retail spending. Since its importation from the US, the Black Friday / Cyber Monday weekend has well and truly become part of the UK retail calendar, joining forces with Christmas to create six weeks of intense consumer activity. And it’s online that’s come out on top in recent years; in 2017, UK online retail sales hit £1.39 billion on Black Friday, up 11.7% on 2016’s date.

With such huge commercial opportunity on offer, any retail company – especially those with an online store – needs to make sure they’re ready to make the most of it. Your delivery service should work like clockwork to ensure happy customers and ultimately, maximum profits. Here’s how an Electronic Proof of Delivery (EPOD) system can help you achieve it.

Meet those all-important delivery dates

Late deliveries aren’t generally well-received by consumers at the best of times, but missing Christmas delivery deadlines will leave many customers unimpressed, eager to share their dissatisfaction and unlikely to shop with you again. When you consider that online retailers can deal with as much as 40% or more of their entire annual order volume in the last quarter of the year, an efficient job and route planning process is a must. EPOD automation can take the work out of finding the most logical and time-saving routes for your delivery fleet via simple drag-and-drop functionality, ensuring orders reach their recipients when they’re expected to.

Stay on track of a larger fleet

The pre-Christmas retail rush means more delivery drivers out on the road, and less space in their vehicles. A need to get as many orders out as possible can easily lead to hazardous and non-compliant overloading, but the built-in checks included with intuitive EPOD software means no vehicle leaves your depot overburdened.     

As your fleet moves from job to job, it’s also important to be able to monitor their progress, especially if you have more drivers on the books than normal. Your system should be capable of GPS tracking your drivers and/or vehicles and displaying their movements on a live map, keeping you informed of ETAs in real-time, recording driver performance and alerting you if anything is threatening to delay a delivery. And, with the ability to update your drivers in the field as they work via smartphone apps and fit-for-purpose rugged devices, you can ensure they stay agile in the face of unexpected hold ups.  

Use custom data to make next year even better

Each winter retail season offers a chance to improve on your business’s operational performance and profit margin. Yet, it’s all but impossible to set and surpass targets without understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the previous year, and this comes down to data. Every aspect of your delivery service generates a data stream capable of revealing actionable business insight, and EPOD reporting provides a meaningful picture of your provision in action. Drilling down into KPI data and custom reports can reveal pressure points and areas ripe for refinement, enabling you to adjust processes for tangible gain the following year.

With EPOD technology in place, the extra pressures of Black Friday and Christmas needn’t slow your business down. Instead, the right system should scale to meet additional demand, allowing you to keep providing the best-possible delivery service for your customers, while maximising returns.