How retailers may have the ‚perfect storm’ of COVID, PEAK & BREXIT

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It’s been a difficult year for eCommerce businesses. In a year where they should have been preparing for Brexit, the Covid19 pandemic and national lockdowns meant that online stores have had to balance an unprecedented surge in sales, social distancing in warehouses and reduced staff numbers. Online sales are now at a 10 year high and this peak season is set to be the biggest yet. But Brexit is still looming, leaving businesses facing a perfect storm of balancing Covid19, peak and the upcoming changes to cross border selling.

Peak on top of Peak: A Peak Like No Other

As the world went into lockdown, customers turned to shopping online and retailers had to fulfill peak level orders whilst also changing the way they worked. Some of the biggest brands in the country were forced to shut their online stores or limit the amount of orders per day. Those that were able to continue trading were facing delivery delays of up to 10 days as carriers struggled to keep up with demand.

The Christmas period is set to be the busiest ever for online sellers, as shoppers’ stick to online ordering rather than braving the stores. Carriers already warned retailers that capacity would be limited, and they may end up switching off non-essential services (such as bulky, heavy items) that could slow down networks. They also may be forced to turn away new customers to protect capacity. Social distancing will still likely cause issues and capacity in warehouses will be limited, so the retailers that have the flexibility and contingency in place will be best placed to weather the storm.

Tackling Brexit and Complication with Cross Border Selling

As of the 1st of January, Brexit will be facing the end of borderless trade as Brexit is fully implemented. We may not know the full details yet, but there will be significant changes to duties and taxes, and custom processes. In addition, those selling in the EU will need to have the right paperwork ready such as an EORI number and HS codes for products.

Retailers must ensure that their technology and processes are set up to tackle Brexit. The right technology can help at the point of sale by providing transparency over additional duties and taxes for customers, an important factor when 68% of international consumers check if there are any additional fees to pay.* Technology also helps you streamline your warehouse and ordering process, and make sure all your customs documentation is up to scratch to avoid fines.

Returns – The First Post Brexit Challenge

2nd of January is known as National Returns Day, where customers start to return unwanted Christmas presents. Returns already present a real headache for retailers due to lack of visibility and can cause delays in resalable stock getting back into the supply chain. Delays like this can be very costly, and cross border returns are set to add another layer of complication. But returns are important to consumers with 1 in 5 abandoning a purchase if they don’t like the returns policy. * Retailers need to ensure they have a robust process in place so that returns can be handled swiftly, provide value for money and offer the same customer service as deliveries. Find out more about how you can prepare your supply chain post-brexit.

Don’t Put Your Delivery Eggs in One Basket

Businesses can’t rely on just one carrier to fulfill all orders. It is far too great a risk, especially at times of such uncertainty. Should issues occur or your carrier can’t keep up with demand, your parcels may be disrupted and delayed, causing a backlog of orders and unhappy customers. It’s essential that businesses work with multiple carriers so that they have contingency is in place should one carrier fail. This can result in more work for retailers to manage all the carriers, which is where the right delivery partner can help relieve the heavy load.

With the coronavirus pandemic ongoing and online shopping at peak levels, retailers face a huge ‘peak on peak’ this year. For many businesses, 2020 has exposed the lack of contingency measures within their supply chain and the need for a robust multi-carrier approach. Businesses must be prepared for the unexpected and put in place the backup to be able to adapt fast. This is the backbone to a successful period every year but is especially important with the challenging times we are facing ahead.

*IMRG Returns Review

Bobby Ttooulis is a dynamic and commercially-focused marketing leader with 15+yrs B2B experience driving brand awareness & targeted demand-gen for high-value Technology SaaS services & solutions into global Enterprises. She is the group marketing director of Global Freight Solutions Ltd.

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