Coping with Christmas - the strain on delivery networks

With Christmas on the horizon couriers are bracing themselves for their busiest period yet.

And for delivery networks it’s likely to be bigger than ever before - more people are predicted to shop online, store closures are rife and retailers are making their most ambitious promises yet about delivery.

But many feel the delivery industry is heading towards breaking point - it’s barely coping with the sheer volume of orders and has become reliant on stressed-out drivers trying to meet unrealistic expectations.

We take a look at the perfect storm that’s being created this Christmas by rising expectations about delivery in an poorly-resourced industry under pressure. We’ll ask what the issues really are and how they can be overcome at Christmas to ensure a happier festive time for all.

Home delivery - the saving grace of modern retail

Not a week goes by without news of store closures or a retailer going into administration. But while it seems like trouble is rife on the High Street, online sales are still in growth. It’s estimated that retailers will see a 11.5% rise in sales online during 2018 with a high percentage of these transactions being delivered to shoppers’ doors between Black Friday and Christmas Eve.

The success of online retailing is a lifeline for retailers - a welcome break from missed targets for an industry fighting for survival. To keep customers coming, online retailers are claiming more outlandish promises about delivery - shop with them all they’ll get their good in your hands faster than any of their competitors. It keeps customers online but all these promises are taking their toll on the delivery networks.

Delivery claims - upping the ante

Many orders have to be processed and delivered by a finite amount of people with lots of retailers relying heavily upon the the same delivery suppliers. But in this game of chicken no one is going to back down - delivery networks aren’t going to tell retailers they can’t deliver the goods on time and shops aren’t going to tone down their delivery promises through fear of losing customers to competitors.

And all you need to do is look at the news to prove it. In the US this week Walmart and Target have all started to offer two-day shipping to compete against Amazon. Amazon retaliated by offering Prime members free same-day shipping on selected items and all other customers free standard shipping on all orders over Christmas. All this seems to be have been offered with little thought to the criticism recently faced by Amazon about false delivery claims or the congestion this will cause on delivery networks.

Couriers - coping with a crisis of conscience

No one wants to tell their boss they can’t make the deadline - they think they’ll be ditched for someone who says they can. It’s exactly why delivery drivers are absorbing the pressure piled onto them. But the cracks are beginning to show - there are more stories in the press about worsening work conditions, driver stress and low pay.

If delivery networks don’t do something about it now then the whole industry is headed for a meltdown. And there’s public perception to take into account too - ethically-minded shoppers are becoming far more aware of delivery drivers’ working conditions and the news stories will soon play a part in some consumers’ purchasing decisions.

Technology - stepping in to fill the gap

There is help at hand in the form of technology - it’s not the delivery drones or driverless cars that we’ve been promised for years but reliable and accessible software that’s available today to improve productivity and relieve stress.

One such tool is better route planning technology - cloud-based software that doesn’t just get the driver to their drop-off but makes sure they’re taking the most efficient route with realistic arrival times which take into account traffic and weather conditions as well as vehicle restrictions. And when last minute orders come in it’s the same software that will add deliveries to the driver’s schedules remotely without having to replan routes manually or causing chaos to their day.

It’s something we’re proud to offer at Maxoptra. By using our technology you can cut your costs without putting even more strain on delivery drivers or deadlines. And as Christmas approaches you can’t ask for more than that - a tool that will not only make your lives easier but spread a little festive joy too.

Request a free trial of Maxoptra today to make light work of heavier workloads.

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