How Leading Retailers are Bracing Themselves for The Holiday Season

The synonym of 2020 is unpredictability on all fronts and the retail industry is no exception in this regard to experience unprecedented levels of unpredictability. Yet, retailers are relentless about being as prepared as they can ahead of the most exciting time of the year.

Here are some things that are part of the new normal and the key areas where retailers are increasing their focus on: 

  1. Digital meets Direct 
  2. Advanced Contactless 
  3. Curbside Pickups 
  4. Delivery Partner Management 
  5. Inventory Replenishment Optimization 
  6. Returns Management 
  7. Real-time actionability 

1. Digital Meets Direct

With click-and-mortar being the way forward, the omni-channel experience needs to be made consistent and optimized. Irrespective of channel, customers expect a consistent experience for home deliveries, BOPIS, click and collect etc. 

This means that whether it is the physical store or online orders, product availability, shipping options, payment mode flexibility, SLA commitment for delivery - same-day, next-day delivery, everything needs to be pre-planned. 

Walmart, one of the world’s largest retailers has taken a series of steps to address the holiday season surge. 

“The holidays are always a special time, and this year, we think the season will mean even more to our customers. As more of them turn to online shopping, we want to ensure we’re staffed and ready to help deliver that special gift to their loved ones while continuing to fulfill our customer’s everyday needs,” Greg Smith, executive vice president for supply chain for Walmart U.S.

2. Advanced Contactless Capabilities

There’s no going back to the old order where contactless was an option. Advanced contactless capabilities such as driver temperature tracking, integration with national and international compliance apps, photo-based proof of deliveries, touch-free proof of delivery etc. are basic expectations from customers who aren’t prepared to brave any risk with regard to safety. 

Retailers are heavily investing in enhancing their contactless capabilities to meet required safety standards. 

3. Curbside Pickups

While curbside pickups are on the rise, managing queues and schedules for the same is essential to not have long queues in pickup areas in stores. It also ties to inventory availability at the time of pickup. 

As of August, about three-fourths of the top 50 store-based retailers in the United States offered curbside pickup, according to Coresight Research, an advisory and research firm that specializes in retail and technology. - as reported by the New York Times. 

4. Delivery Partner Management

The first step to getting delivery-ready is partner onboarding. But, for it to not take a hit on customer experience, it needs efficient onboarding and management of partners who can deliver for you. Capacity management of partners and performance management are key tools in ensuring that they compliment your initiatives around customer satisfaction and preserve the customer experience. 

5. Inventory Replenishment Optimization

It is not just the last mile and delivery leg that needs to be transformed. Since, the volumes have been on an all-time high and stores are witnessing a massive spike in demand across all channels, ensuring that inventory replenishment happens even when there is a strain on the supply chain, in a timely fashion is essential to ensure that the right product is available at the right time on the right channel. 

6. Returns Management

The returns experience is a critical part of overall customer experience and needs special emphasis. Same-day returns, in-store returns, drop-offs in store are options which top retailers have already rolled out for customers and that is a key differentiating factor. This needs tight control on the supply chain and centralised visibility. 

7. Real-Time Actionability

The core objective of all investments made in technology is to ensure that the entire supply chain is controlled in real-time and issues can be proactively addressed rather than reactively. 

By adding features such as alerts and notifications on ETA misses, carrier performance, real-time customer feedback, retailers stand a closer chance to address concerns and complaints in real-time thereby preserving customer goodwill. 

While we have seen the key focus areas of retailers this holiday season, it needs a robust technology ecosystem that can support them and make them agile and nimble enough to handle all of these new-age requirements in a swift manner. 

FarEye, offers retailers with cutting edge capabilities to transform their control and visibility into their retail supply chain and is a key component of the technology stack of major retailers across the globe. To learn more, click here or schedule a demo. 

Wishing you a great holiday season!

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