Q&A: Black Friday – Preparing For Peaks
With each passing year, Black Friday attracts an increasingly large number of consumers – last year alone UK shoppers spent an estimated £810m and some are predicting online orders to increase fourfold this year. This huge spike in demand presents a considerable challenge to the retail supply chain, with couriers in particular being put under extreme pressure. We interviewed Tony Bailey, Senior T&L Consultant at Loqus Group, to delve deeper into the problems faced by couriers during this period and ask what they can do to remove these:
Q: We’re seeing huge increases in the number of shoppers engaging with Black Friday sales, what sort of challenges does this present to retail couriers?
A: I’d say probably the biggest challenge is trying to balance the delivery expectations of your customers with the physical capabilities of your current fleet. Most couriers won’t be able to easily access a large surplus of vehicles and drivers to cover such huge demand, meaning they have to sub-contract some of their deliveries. They also face the challenge of how best to optimise their current resources – poor management of their current fleet can lead to increased costs and unnecessary pressure – so it’s essential they are operating as effectively as possible.
Q: What about the challenge of driver shortages?
A: This is an issue currently faced by the whole UK logistics industry, and it’s an issue that becomes even more severe during peak periods like Black Friday. Other than sub-contracting, there isn’t a short term solution to this problem, which makes it all the more important that you’re using the drivers you do have in the most efficient way possible.
Q: We can’t say exactly how many orders will be placed this year on Black Friday, so how can couriers plan ahead?
A: While it’s true that no-one can say for definite what volumes this year’s Black Friday will bring, couriers can plan ahead and prepare any necessary adjustments. This is done through a combination of predictions, demand modelling and historical data – all of which can be put into the right software to provide couriers with a plan to ensure they operate more efficiently during Black Friday.
Q: With regards to software, what tools are available to couriers to help them plan and adapt their processes in preparation for Black Friday?
A: Having reliable and effective software is vital when it comes to fleet management, especially when having to deal with the extraordinary volumes brought about by Black Friday. RouteIT enables couriers to optimise their resources, reduce their planning time, maximise their driver efficiency (and adapt to the driver shortages mentioned before) and improve environmental policy through green routing. It also has the added benefit of providing real-time alerts, which lets you inform your customers of expected delivery or collection windows.
Q: You mentioned efficiency as a key factor, what sort of efficiency gains would RouteIT give a courier?
A: Well the solution guarantees a minimum 5% efficiency gain, but in reality this figure is usually a lot higher. For example, one large courier using RouteIT has seen efficiency gains of 22%, so the solution really does speak for itself.