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Peak Season 2020: 6 Parcel Shipping Best Practices

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the retail landscape in 2020 barely resembles that of years past.  Supply chains worldwide have been disrupted and increases in e-commerce have limited shipping capacity and impacted delivery times. Many experts are also predicting a second wave of COVID-19 cases this fall and winter, creating uncertainty and unease everywhere.

Given this landscape, retailers are preparing for an unprecedented holiday shopping season, most of which may take place online.  According to May 2020 data from daVinci Payments, 71% of U.S. adults are planning to do more than half of their holiday shopping digitally this year.  Should this prove true, retailers will be on the order fulfillment end of record levels of online orders, and to manage these volumes successfully, necessary extensions in operations, fulfillment capacity, and customer service should be soon underway (if they’re not already).

To help plan, we’ve pulled together six best practices for shipping parcels during the 2020 holiday season:

1. Plan for Earlier than Usual Holiday Shopping

Experts say the combination of retailers’ decisions to close stores on Thanksgiving, questions about the timing of Amazon’s Prime Day, and the tremendous opportunity for e-commerce sales this holiday season could create a new holiday shopping calendar, wherein sales occur earlier and big, in-store sales at the end of November play a much lesser role in holiday revenue – if at all.  In fact, some of the biggest retailers are planning for a surge as early as October:

  • Target announced it will launch its holiday sales in October. “Historically, deal hunting and holiday shopping can mean crowded events, and this isn’t a year for crowds,” it said in a blog post.
  • Macy’s CEO Jeff Gennette said, “But when you think about a Black Friday, if you think about the 10 days before Christmas, what does that mean in terms of traffic if people are nervous about gathering with crowds?” He anticipates the holiday shopping season will begin after Halloween.

2. Use Regional Carriers

ebook logistyx quadrant Choosing a TMS for Parcel ShippingIf you’re competing against retailers that offer one-day and same-day delivery, adding regional carrier options can help lessen their competitive advantage.  Regional carriers can be the key to faster, cheaper, and more flexible delivery services, usually offering next-day ground delivery within 400 miles of a shipment’s origin – often at a lower rate and with fewer surcharges than the national carriers. In comparison, the next-day footprint of the national carriers’ ground service is only 200 miles.

3. Leverage a Cloud Multi-Carrier Parcel Management System

To manage high volumes of parcel deliveries while maintaining on-time delivery, retailers need to leverage multiple carrier services.  A cloud multi-carrier parcel management system will quickly access different carriers’ (including regional carriers’) shipping rates through a single system, enabling retailers to quickly compare rates and select the optimal carrier service for each shipment according to business rules.

Retailers can also integrate their multi-carrier parcel management system with their e-commerce platform to give online customers the ability to choose from various delivery/cost options at the point of check-out. This can decrease the workload for order fulfillment teams while improving the purchase and delivery experience for customers.

4. Offer Free Shipping

In a 2018 survey by Internet Retailer, shipping charges were cited as the most common reason shoppers abandon their carts. And similar findings were echoed in NRF’s quarterly Consumer View 2019 report, in which 75 percent of consumers reported they expect free shipping, including on orders less than $50.

For retailers looking to increase online sales this holiday season and recoup in-store losses caused by the pandemic, this is likely unwelcome news.  After all, absorbing shipping costs reduces margins.  And the alternative,  wherein a retailer simply embeds the shipping cost into the purchase price of the product, runs the risk that consumers will find the same product at a lower price elsewhere.

One way for retailers to give consumers the shipping offer they want while protecting the bottom line, is to secure the most cost-effective carrier service. Again, a multi-carrier parcel management system  ensures the best carrier service is used for every parcel, and it can also help retailers avoid unexpected custodial fees incurred by bad addresses and non-compliant labels.

5. Take Steps to Ensure On-Time Delivery

One of the easiest ways to mar an otherwise good online purchase experience occurs in the final mile. Whether the delivery is late, damaged, or lost, retailers can easily lose a customer and even sustain a reputation hit from poor online reviews and/or word-of-mouth when the delivery experience fails to – ahem – deliver.

A sophisticated multi-carrier parcel management system will include a Control Tower, which means retailers can proactively manage against unwanted delivery events and provide shoppers with delivery transparency. Specifically, the system will send early warning signs when there are parcel delivery issues or “exception events,” empowering customer service teams to proactively trouble-shoot the exception event and communicate delivery updates to the customer in real time. For example, perhaps the product can be sent from a different distribution center to arrive on time. Or perhaps the customer is willing to retrieve the product from a nearby store or locker. Customers can even track and trace shipments on company websites without the need to visit carrier sites, reducing inbound calls about shipment status to customer service and increasing the customers’ browsing behavior on the retailer’s website, which (fingers crossed!) could lead to additional purchases. Consider too that tracking delivery exception events enables retailers to capture accurate carrier performance data – improving carrier service measurement and better informing carrier contract negotiations.


6. Put a Returns Strategy in Place

Consumers will appreciate a fast, efficient returns process and will be more likely to generate repeat business if their returns experience is a good one. The key to winning this customer loyalty is to make the returns process simple.

Forward-thinking organizations who put the customer experience first employ a variety of creative methods for simplifying returns, including dual-use labels (labels that serve the purpose of both the outbound shipment and return), peel-off labels (where the outbound label easily peels off to expose a return label), and perhaps most notably, accepting returns of online orders in stores. This last approach is popular among omnichannel retailers that have both online and physical stores, but it was also adopted by Amazon, who has partnered with a large retail chain to accept, process, and ship returns at no cost to the customer – they simply initiate the return in the app and take the item to the store where it’s scanned, processed, and held until shipment.

The 2020 Holiday Shopping Season is Here

Looking ahead to October, retailers should have a parcel shipping strategy in place that delights customers and increases business.  To learn more about simplifying the complexity of high velocity parcel shipping, contact us today.

Aimee Tierney Shares Holiday Fulfillment Tips for Retailers with EPSNews

As sales (and shipping) volume rise within the peak holiday shopping season, so do the stakes. Retailers need to be attentive to the potentially heightened expectations and challenges that come with transporting high-value products this time of year. Deliveries need to be on-time to keep customers happy, particularly as consumers increasingly demand same-day or next day delivery and expectations include special holiday offers and discounts.

headshot of Aimee Tierney VP Sales Logistyx
Aimee Tierney, Vice President of Sales, Logistyx Technologies

For those fulfillment teams shipping next-day deliveries via overnight carrier services, they’re almost certainly overpaying and adding to their cost of distribution. This is especially true during the holidays when consumers’ love of buying electronics and other tech products goes into hyperdrive.

In a recent article for EPSNews, Logistyx Technologies Vice President of Sales Aimee Tierney shares some essential holiday fulfillment tips to help retailers boost service and cut costs – no magic sleigh required! Aimee provides insights on selecting the most appropriate carrier for each order, addressing the impact of accessorial charges, and making parcel delivery more transparent.

Read Aimee’s full article on EPSNews: “Fulfillment Tips for the Holidays – Boost Service & Cut Costs

Logistyx Gives Thanks

It’s that time of the year.  A time where we take stock and think about friends, family, the events that made this year remarkable, and the people who contribute each day to our success.  We’re appreciating our milestones and the fun we’ve had achieving them – because yes, this is fun – and while we couldn’t possibly highlight everyone and everything for which we’re thankful, there are a handful that stand out:

1. We are thankful for our customers.

Here at Logistyx, we know big breakthroughs and progress can’t happen in silos.  It requires working collaboratively with our customers to solve their business problems – generating the kind of energy that fuels growth, innovation, and success.  Therefore, we are thankful for our customers’ commitment, enthusiasm, and inspiration.  Without it, we couldn’t possibly innovate parcel shipping technology the way we do.

And our customers’ intelligence and dedication shine in myriad ways: the thoughtful feedback they provide on our tools and technology… the challenges they pose… the “outside of the box” thinking they often demand… their willingness to evangelize on our behalf… and their renewed commitment to our partnership year after year.  From their logistics teams to their customer service representatives, we know our customers’ names – and they know ours.  We count on them to inspire us and to engage in an ongoing, two-way “listen and learn.”  They make us better, and it’s our mission to use our customers as a catalyst to continuous improvement.

To every Logistyx customer: thank you, once again, for your partnership with Logistyx Technologies.

2. We are thankful for our partners.

From our software partners… to our system integration partners… to our carrier and carrier network partners, Logistyx is part of an amazing parcel shipping ecosystem.  Our partner community includes global supply chain leaders that have a track record of excellence and a proven commitment to the customer.  They’re experts in e-commerce, warehouse management, shipping, and more… and together, we provide a complete and customized supply chain solution that enables manufacturers, retailers, and logistics service providers to ship around the world – faster, smarter, and for less.

Our partners truly believe in our product roadmap, and they’re quick to make a referral, participate in a joint case study, and present our collective results to any and all who will listen. This is truly just the beginning for distribution – e-commerce, omnichannel, and otherwise – and we look forward to continually innovating parcel shipping software in conjunction with our partners that powers on-time delivery in full at the optimal cost.

To our partners:  thank you for being part of our journey.

3. We are thankful for our team.

To the employees who come in everyday and often stay late, who share their positive attitudes, and whose tireless efforts make Logistyx’s success possible: we are grateful. The men and women who work at Logistyx are intelligent, dedicated, and take pride in the fruits of their labor. They embrace new ideas, rise to the challenge, examine problems from a new angle, and recover quickly when results aren’t as planned. Their hard work and commitment to our customers and to each other is unparalleled.

From Chicago to St. Louis… from Tulsa to Toronto… from Amsterdam to Singapore… from London to Peru: thank you.

4. We are thankful for our success.

Nothing makes us happier than when our customers and partners come together to share our mutual successes.  Our case studies and press releases represent a cornucopia (Thanksgiving pun intended!) of learning and achievements, and the opportunities and results highlighted therein are an important part of who we are.  We’re proud to have broadened our customers’ possibilities, and every time we read the latest case study or see the newest headline, we’re reminded we’re doing something right. Bringing people and technology together to define best practices in parcel shipping?  That’s irreplaceable.

To the employees, customers, and partners who work so diligently to ensure our results: thank you.

5. We are thankful for our history.

Almost three years ago, ADSI, Agile Network, and Pantechnik International (all with roots in supply chain leaders like Tandata, Tracer, Kewill, and more) came together to form the world’s first global parcel analytics platform: Logistyx Technologies.  And we are particularly proud of the expertise and insight this history affords us.

With 1,500 years of parcel shipping-specific experience under our belts and 1,000+ global customers, what Logistyx unequivocally knows is for large enterprises tackling complex distribution scenarios and same-day/next-day delivery expectations, there is no “one size fits all” approach to parcel shipping. Carrier networks vary. Fulfillment scenarios differ. Customs and cross-border regulations diverge from one region to the next. But one thing always remains the same despite these nuances, and that’s our history in the industry – and as a direct byproduct: the necessary expertise to help shippers maximize profits per shipment.  What’s more, we are prouder than ever to continually build on this expertise by hiring trailblazers, strategists, developers, and relationship-makers to help us write our next chapters.

To all of the characters, past and present, in our story: thank you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

As stated at the beginning of this post, we couldn’t possibly highlight everything; we’ve simply accomplished too much this year.  But we wanted to seize this moment and thank the people who impact us every day and shape our trajectory.

So…

Eat.  Enjoy friends and family.  Watch football.  Eat again.  And have a happy Thanksgiving!