Peak Season Preparation

Feature Writer  |  October 15, 2021   |   Home Delivery, Third-Party Logistics, Parcel Delivery, Final Mile Home Delivery, Delivery Service Provider, E-commerce Delivery,

The arrival of the 'bers signals a huge change in final mile processes for Delivery Service Providers (DSP).
Are you partnering with a company on the right side of that change? 

 

On a cool October night, Maria and Dan have just finished their dinner. Suddenly Dan gets a call, and while Maria starts to corral the kids for bedtime, Dan puts on his reflective safety vest and mask to head out the door. A long and tiresome night has just begun for Dan, who works as a sortation supervisor at a Delivery Service Provider (DSP) specializing in Final Mile Home Delivery. His company is subcontracted by a large Third-Party Logistics (3PL) group responsible for the supply chain management of multiple retail clients. Peak season has begun - a critical time of year where volumes increase significantly.

 

Peak-Performer-SealOften referred to as Peak, this period of hyperactivity is one of the most hectic times in the home delivery logistics sector. For final mile delivery service providers, in particular, it is during this time that customers shift into purchase overdrive to get ahead of the holiday season. This is amplified in our current Peak season as the uncertainty surrounding the fourth wave of COVID-19 has many on edge. 

 

There is a temptation for DSPs to over-promise as they aim to make up for prior months of operating under capacity. Many commit to more than they can deliver which has a domino effect of dissatisfaction from both DSP clients and their more vocal consignee customers. There is a need for a level head and experience to navigate Peak effectively. Products cannot be rushed through the critical Final Mile without sufficient planning and preparation.

 

So what does that planning and preparation look like? Let's take a closer look as we examine four key Peak season focus areas:

Staff Expansion, Technology Integration, Enhanced Standard Operating Procedures,
and Increased Measurement.

#1 - Staff Expansion

OK, seems simple right? More orders, more staff, more capacity to deliver. Unfortunately, it is not that simple. Drivers need to be given the relevant training and supervision to understand the behavioral patterns of customers and how to communicate effectively during each stage of delivery. Client-customized trailer dock release (TDR), sortation, and pre-load processes must be absorbed in order to minimize service disruption.


STRESSING THE SYSTEM
Onboarding too many new staff at once can overwhelm the system. The delivery service provider’s capacity to train, combined with the new staff member’s capacity to absorb new processes gets stressed. Often, in an effort to keep things moving ahead, the result is a compromise to either one or both. This is where things can get problematic.

 

GETTING AHEAD OF PEAK
Before Peak settles in, the experienced delivery service provider ramps up staffing, fortifies relationships with agencies, and organizes training into digestible components that can be delivered to new staff. Each new driver or warehouse associate may need to un-learn old processes and recalibrate to new ones, and this takes time and support.

 

Varied delivery modes are added to make learning continuous and measurable. Digital screens, mobile messaging, dispatcher dialogue, and GPS tracking are employed to onboard staff responsibly and ensure they don’t hit a performance wall that is too steep to climb. New staff members are monitored closely and given every opportunity to keep pace during critical Peak season.

GOLO routing image-1
#2 - Technology Integration

With the availability of modern systems and hand-held devices, the work done by final mile delivery service providers has become easier, while at the same time increasing in its complexity. Setup and Maintenance of technology systems are of utmost importance. Without proper knowledge and implementation across a number of monitoring systems, personnel will not be able to cope with the heightened demand associated with Peak.

 

This can result in chaos at the worst possible time for e-commerce, retailers, and manufacturers. The common requirement for each of them being high visibility into orders — knowing where items are at each stage of final mile delivery and having absolute certainty of delivery time windows to customers. The Delivery Service Provider must be flexible with technology integration, especially as customer expectations for quick delivery are amplified as many are working from home awaiting their package from their home office window.

 

Infographic: Pandemic Accelerates Shift to Online Retail | Statista You will find more infographics at Statista

 

With the successful deployment of warehouse management and transportation management systems, e-commerce providers, manufacturers, and their end-user customers gain greater visibility into orders. This includes information on order status and possible causes for delay. Customer expectations continue to increase, especially as many boast same-day and next-day delivery online simply to compete. The result? Zero-tolerance for any form of delay. Combining this with the increase in order volumes due to Peak, the delivery risk component increases exponentially. While this can be a catastrophe for some, it presents an opportunity for others.

#3 - Enhanced Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

During Peak, it is essential for delivery service providers to update and adhere to enhanced standard operating procedures. This is critical to avoid delivery failure or the dreaded "return to station" (RTS) that accompanies an unsuccessful delivery. A heavy volume of purchase activity should not Driver Thanks Campaign_8equate to a dip in the delivery experience. It is precisely at this moment that customers lean on delivery guarantees promised by their retailer whether in-store or online. The right final mile Delivery Service Provider is stress-tested with a track record of Peak season integration success. Recruitment efforts get amplified while at the same time, onboarding and training become rigorous for new associates. 

There is no room for a dip in service, or added time for contingent staff to struggle to internalize standard operating procedures. For proactive Delivery Service Providers, alterations to the standard operating procedure are internalized well ahead of Peak. The eye must be fixed on the prize of maintaining a high standard for delivery
at this critical time, and this is where it is critical for
e-commerce,  retail, and manufacturers to select the
right DSP.

#4 - Increased Measurement

analytics_iconThe importance of proper measurement of performance metrics such as Net Promoter Scores (NPS), Delivery Completion Rate, and Safety Protocol adherence cannot be overstated when it comes to Peak season preparation. Tracking performance consistently with a standard measure evaluates Delivery Service Providers on a series of factors which in turn determines their outlook and market performance. During Peak, customers get excited and anxious about items they’ve ordered. This can stem from various factors – from gifting, to taking advantage of time-limited seasonal offers.

 

During appliance deliveries, generally, a purchase that is not made frequently, the customer looks forward to the delivery associate explaining the installation procedure and more importantly, following any delivery instructions provided. This can be a challenge when a delivery team is pressed for time and navigating around road closures to complete their route. Adherence and understanding of these guidelines when a customer has a degree of stress about the process, helps ensure a higher satisfaction level and in turn higher NPS (and related) ratings.

Taming Peak Season

In summary, Peak can be both welcomed and satisfying for the DSP and their e-commerce, retail, and manufacturing clients if planned correctly and executed with repeatable processes that cover the four key areas of consideration: 

Staff Expansion, Technology Integration, Enhanced Standard Operating Procedures,
and Increased Measurement.

Topics: Topics: Topics: Topics: Topics: Topics: Home Delivery, Third-Party Logistics, Parcel Delivery, Final Mile Home Delivery, Delivery Service Provider, E-commerce Delivery,

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