The holiday season is hectic already, full of family gatherings, celebrations, and gifts. The last thing that overburdened retailers, manufacturers, and businesses need is an interruption to their supply chains and shipping procedures.
While most companies have some form of long-term logistics plan in place, or a team to implement good logistical strategy, life comes at you quickly. Sometimes you need to employ a quick fix to address emergencies as they arise.
We’re going to look at the top five emergency situations that can affect your shipping procedures and the immediate interventions that you can put in place to address problems as they arise.
1. Lost products
The number one problem that occurs during the shipping cycle is lost packages. Whether those packages were shipped to the wrong recipient, fell off the back of the truck, or are still sitting in some dark corner of your warehouse, they all have the same end result: a ruined holiday for your customers, and negative reviews for your company online.
2. Damaged products
Sometimes the problem isn’t whether or not the package arrives, it’s the state that it arrives in. Broken or damaged products are a last-minute emergency that can ruin the gift-giving season for your customers. Determining who is actually at fault, the shipping agency or you the vendor, can be a point of contention, but damaged goods require immediate action on your part nonetheless.
3. Inclement weather
Sometimes the problem isn’t a missing package; it’s a delayed shipment. For many parts of the country the holiday season is synonymous with snowy, slippery weather that makes travel and transport unsafe When blizzards happen, shipping doesn’t.
4. Spike in demand
Mistakes and errors aren’t the only reason behind shipping delays. Sometimes the holidays bring with them a spike in demand that puts undue strain on your company’s fulfillment infrastructure. This is a good problem to have. On one hand, it means that business is thriving and your products are known to be high-quality. On the other hand, you’re left with the headache of trying to accommodate an influx of customers.
5. Wrinkles further down the supply chain
In rare cases, shipping delays might not have anything to do with you. Many manufacturers work on a continuum, getting parts and supplies from other manufacturers. If you employ a just-in-time model (JIT) for your inventory where you only stock the amount of material you need at any given time, you are especially susceptible to these kinds of disruptions. If one of your suppliers is behind, that means that you are behind, and your customer can expect late deliveries.
The quest for immediate solvency
Proper logistical planning ahead of time can help mitigate some holiday disasters, but other emergencies are not so easily resolved. They require an immediate, emergency response. What are some strategies that your company can use to handle shipping issues immediately?
The best way to respond to any shipping crisis is with communication and transparency. Be upfront with your customers. You stand to lose more by trying to cover up issues or shift the blame than you do by addressing problems head on.
In the case of a shipping error that can’t be corrected in time for the upcoming holiday, you may be able to retain customers by offering incentives and discounts. Give them a promotional price on an upcoming order, or extend credit or a gift card for them to use at their own discretion.
Sometimes you just have to swallow your mistake and eat the cost. Offering customers expedited shipping on replacement merchandise can serve as an adequate olive branch in exceptional cases.
If your supply chain hits a snag somewhere downstream, sometimes the only course of action is to address it directly with your supplier. They may be able to partner with you on customer retention measures as a last resort.
Supply chain management experts
Emergencies happen. They have an uncanny way of happening at the most inopportune times like the holiday rush. If you are faced with an emergency, the secret is to stay light on your feet and adaptable. The best way to head off a potential disaster this holiday is to partner with a manufacturer who has experience in logistical planning, a manufacturer that can keep the supply chain moving when you need it the most. To learn more, please contact us today.