Thanks to increased customer dependence on e-commerce this year, customers will have many Cyber Monday and digital and in-store Black Friday shopping deals at their disposal.
According to a recent Deloitte survey, spending will likely be down 7% due to the coronavirus pandemic. Still, consumers are expected to spend a whopping 64% of the holiday shopping budget via the World Wide Web. As such, fleet operations need to be prepared for demand and distribution while supporting their retail and e-commerce customers in the process. Read on for five important checklist items to keep in mind.
#1: Align your teams and strategy
Regardless if you’re a major retailer with a connected fleet or you’re a fleet manager working as an independent contractor for various businesses, the first step in navigating the post-turkey kick-off to the holiday shopping season lies in communication and strategy.
Managers and leaders should develop a concise and detailed plan for their teams ahead of time. Utilizing a strategic or territory planning solution can significantly help here, as a robust solution can help you create an efficient logistics and distribution schedule weeks or months in advance. Over time, you can even collect and view historical trends around seasonal spikes like Black Friday or Cyber Monday.
You can also go the extra mile — pun intended — by sharing your strategic plan with key players in your team, like drivers. Truckers and transportation workers are often dealing with a time crunch while transporting heavy loads during the holiday season, so they will be the first to appreciate an organized strategy.
#2: Expect the unexpected, and plan for it
Fleet leaders aim to prepare their operations for maximum success. What happens, however, when external factors bring your perfectly planned strategy to a halt? Heavy online and in-store customer traffic and evolving customer demands can result in website crashes, load changes, and last-minute route shifts. Your teams can use an efficient day-to-day-routing and dispatching approach to address these changes in near real-time.
The right routing and dispatching solutions can help you optimize routes and simultaneously provide delivery options to your customers that work on your schedule and theirs — no matter what surprises you and your teams may encounter along the way. Further, prioritizing dispatching ensures your drivers and back-office teams maintain open communication with each other along the way.
#3: Pay attention to demand
You can analyze historical data trends from previous years’ Cyber Mondays and Black Fridays to understand which customers may have the most demand this year. Keep in mind that differing economic conditions, like the COVID-19 pandemic and the related high unemployment rate, can affect how comparable historical demand is to current demand.
You can also maintain open communication with your customers, as they can often give further clarification into what may be most in demand based on prices, consumer needs, and the shopping trends and behaviors they have direct insight into. With this input, you can have a more definite idea of your loads on these days and the days after.
#4: Be flexible for the benefit of your business
Free return shipping is expected to be in remarkably high demand this holiday season. The Deloitte survey also found 70% of the surveyed consumers said they would give preference to retailers that offer free shipping options.
With these customer expectations, many retailers will understandably be looking for ways to hold on to their customers with flexible return options. You can support return-friendly retailers by helping make the process easier for them. Just like their customers, your retailer and e-commerce customers will be more willing to continue working with you if you’re able to provide them with flexible post-purchase support.
#5: Go as contactless as possible
With over 11 million coronavirus cases in the U.S. as of November 16, many customers and businesses are prioritizing health and safety more today than ever before.
Commercial drivers and transportation workers are the crucial middlemen (or women) between logistics and distribution. As such, the final and often most critical step in preparing your operation for success in the age of coronavirus during Black Friday and Cyber Monday lies in the way you protect your drivers, so they are empowered to protect others. Here are a few ways to go about that:
- Re-educate drivers and teams on health and sanitation procedures.
- Equip drivers with cleaning supplies and protective equipment.
- Choose flexible proof of delivery solutions, so drivers can electronically capture signatures.
You can prepare your operation for further success this Black Friday and Cyber Monday with an enhanced routing, dispatch, and navigation strategy. Read our recent blog post to learn more, and happy holiday prep in the meantime!