Av Trimble smartdelivery | Article | October 15, 2019

How Supply Chain Operators can Get Ahead of Competitors

The supply chain space is pretty complicated. There are multiple players competing and collaborating in this industry, in both rural as well as urban areas. Staying ahead of the competition requires more than managing costs and workflow. Differentiation works best, where it is difficult to beat the competition.

Standing out during peak period

Providing an exceptional delivery service during the peak season is the best way to stay ahead of the competition. The winter season sees a peak in sales both at stores and online. The surge during this one month amounts to 30% of annual retail sales. E-commerce portals experience more than a 25% increase in sales. The ten days from November 23 to December 23 are the busiest. With most shoppers flocking to online stores during this time. Consumers prefer online shopping during the holidays for the attractive deals they offer, as well as the ease of home delivery.

Boosting sales during the holiday isn’t a major issue for retailers. However, once the purchase is made, parcel delivery to the consumer’s doorstep is the next big task. The requirement for logistic delivery channels doubles during this period. However, it certainly isn’t easy for logistics suppliers to boost operations in such a short time. The work involved to support this large-scale operation starts well before the winter months. About 62% of UK e-commerce retailers start preparing for this period 4-5 months in advance. Following are a few tips to help manage the excessive demand during the holidays.

Hiring the right people

To successfully service the requests during the peak period, you will need a skilled workforce. Maintaining a large labour base all through the year is counter-intuitive. Instead, you can hire and train for the few months that see the upsurge in sales and delivery.

By providing the right incentives and motivation, you can add people to your delivery management chain. There is also no need to train everyone in everything. You can divide sessions into batches, just as you plan to divide the labour force to work on specific tasks. This increases efficiency and productivity. Train different batches in different activities such as: receiving, packing, shipping, dock clean up, etc.

Working with retail partners

It is important to be on the same page with your retail partners. Make sure you have a clear understanding of their forecasts for the peak season. This will help you manage your supply chain and delivery options. Having a forecast also helps in chalking out the SLA. Even if there are changes in scope and predictions, the variations will not be too difficult to handle.

The absence of historical data, advancement in technology, and marketing options tend to boost sales each year. By keeping these factors in mind, retailers and supply chain operators can design their logistics business process and courier tools.

Keep your retail partners updated on the delivery statuses – whether they’re same-day delivery services or last-mile delivery. This will build trust at the partner as well as the end-consumer levels. Work with your partners to create realistic expectations. By letting end consumers choose their delivery options, you will be sure that there’s no returns service.

Having forecasts can help you use analytics models available in a specific logistics solution to run various delivery situations. You can work with your retail partner to zero down on scenarios that provide cost-effective services in rural and urban areas. This can also help in routing optimisation. Routing optimisation reduces delays and maximises efficiency.

The overall plan should include improving warehouse strategies and fine-tuning sales forecasts. In today’s scenario, where change is the only constant, innovation is the key to success. Using technology like drones and robots for parcel delivery can be a win-win for all. Drones offer speedy deliveries and are cost-effective and also operate in an environmental-friendly manner. As such, robots and drones are perfect for last-mile delivery. Drone-delivery is not a market standard right now and still has a long way to go. However, with constant innovations and easy implementation strategy, it is only a matter of time till they become a delivery-standard for most.

Here’s a quick glimpse of the steps you can take to stay ahead of your competition during the peak season:

  • Plan and train your labour force
  • Work with your channel partners
  • Collaborate with your retail partners on forecasts
  • Keep your customers updated on delivery statuses
  • Set realistic expectations
  • Update your logistic workflow software
  • Use drones for last-mile delivery

When operating in a competitive industry, you can always differentiate yourself based on service quality and innovation. Use these two to your benefit to create and become an industry standard.