The festive season puts an enormous amount of additional pressure on supply chains and logistics. So much so that the likes of Argos have opened new fulfilment centres to keep up with the swarm of expected same day deliveries, whilst ASOS has gone even further by planning to be the first in the UK to offer same-day-returns, just in time for Christmas. This will be ground-breaking for consumers, who will be able to book, via the retailer’s app, collection of unwanted items at a time and place that suits them. In order for retailers to optimise their supply chain strategies, a lot of planning and investment has been put into these new initiatives to ensure they can actually deliver on their promises.
Often around peak periods such as Christmas, retailers and logistics companies look to hire additional manpower to cope with extra deliveries. While this will likely always be the case for several years to come, support can also be provided by optimising supply chain systems and networks through technology to streamline fulfilment and delivery processes.
Businesses will need to be smarter in the way they work, to ensure these processes are as efficient as possible, or risk feeling the wrath of demanding consumers. So, what should they be considering to deal with an increase in orders during the pre-Christmas season?
With consumers mainly making purchasing decisions based on convenience, the race is on for retail businesses. Having an all singing, all dancing, slick website or app will no longer suffice as a differentiator. Speed of fulfilment is now the battlefield and companies cannot afford failures in the warehouse or in delivery services. With on-demand shopping becoming the norm, more and more businesses will feel the pressure to adhere to this trend too or risk losing out on customers. Companies should be implementing technologies and processes that will enable them to be more efficient all year round, and build agile infrastructure to cope during peak periods with great ease.
Prasad Satyavolu, Chief Digital Officer, Manufacturing, Logistics, Energy & Utilities, Cognizant