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How Retailers Can Prepare for a Delivery Surge Ahead of Black Friday


When it comes to Black Friday, high sales figures and a top-notch customer experience don’t always go hand in hand. While it’s often the busiest weekend (or week) in the calendar for driving revenue, pitfalls inevitably arise that can have a major impact on how customers perceive a brand. 


The odds of customer disappointment and frustration are considerably heightened in peak periods. Delivery arguably holds the most responsibility on its shoulders as the final step of the customer journey. So avoiding delivery disappointment is key in safeguarding your customer experience over the course of Black Friday/Cyber Monday.


In this article, we’re looking at some of the key ways that retailers can review and tweak their strategy in order to prepare for the delivery surge that’s due to hit in just a few weeks’ time.

1. Should You Switch Off Next-Day Delivery?

Controversial, we know. Let’s break this one down. There’s obviously a fear that if you don’t offer your customers next-day or express delivery as an option, they are going to shop elsewhere. It’s a valid concern. But here’s the thing – as far as Black Friday/Cyber Monday goes, next-day delivery isn’t always a top priority for customers.


If you can proceed as normal with a next-day delivery option over the week/weekend, by all means, go for it. But you need to make sure that you can come good on your promise. Because if there’s a doubt that you can’t, offering next-day delivery could do more harm than good.


Dig into your delivery data from 2020. What percentage of customers chose next-day delivery on their orders? What was the success/failure rate of those packages being delivered on schedule? Now stress test the figures. If there’s a further 10% increase in sales this year, will you be able to achieve the same results? What about if there’s a 20% increase? If you’re unsure about whether your business can handle offering next-day deliveries over Cyber Weekend, your data will have the answer.


2. What Does Standard Delivery Mean, Anyway?

You can still give your customers plenty of delivery options over Black Friday/Cyber Monday – even if next-day delivery isn’t one of them. 4 in 5 consumers (86%) prefer when retailers offer a variety of delivery speeds. This could be standard delivery, click and collect, timed delivery slots, express delivery, you name it. 


Display these options on your site (not just at checkout), and make it crystal clear what each one of them actually means. For example, the term ‘standard delivery’ is quite vague in that it could be 5 days for one brand and 15 for another. So be sure to indicate an estimated delivery window when listing standard as an option. The same goes for express delivery. It might be the case that offering next-day delivery is a bridge too far during a busy sales period, but a 2-3 day window is doable. Customers should quickly and easily be able to see and understand what options are available to them to make an informed decision and also set up realistic expectations. 


Elevate this further by highlighting the environmental impact of some/all delivery options at the checkout. For example, you could include a note that says ‘choosing next-day delivery equals X carbon emissions; standard delivery has an estimated carbon emission of Y.’


By applying context and educating them on the ramifications of those choices, you might actually notice a shift in customer delivery preferences well beyond Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

3. Where’s My Parcel? Delivering Updates...

These days it’s pretty rare for a package to land on a customer’s doorstep without any advanced knowledge of its arrival. Providing regular tracking updates to customers is a real opportunity for retailers to build brand trust


Remember, Black Friday could very well be the first time a customer is shopping with you, so it’s important for them to feel confident that a) their package will arrive safe and sound, and b) they have as accurate an estimate as to when that will be. 


45% of UK shoppers expect an estimated day or time of day delivery for their online orders. Not only that, it’s really not enough to simply send a confirmation email with a tracking code once an order has been placed and expect the customer to follow the progress of a parcel themselves. Ideally, customers should be notified when their order has been dispatched, when it’s due to arrive, and when it’s been delivered successfully (side note – this could double up as the perfect time to include a delivery survey or request feedback).


It goes without saying that it’s vital for brands to communicate with customers if and when any delivery issues occur. Deliveries will fail. Customers will have questions. It’s a given that there to be a few bumps in the road over the course of Black Friday/Cyber Monday. But you can certainly pre-empt some of these surge problems by letting your customers know your delivery schedule/options ahead of time.


Consider sending an email a week before your Black Friday campaign launches (and their inboxes overflow with promo emails) with a handy infographic that highlights delivery information, including any notable changes (for example, switching off next-day delivery for environmental reasons). Be transparent and communicate with your customers every step of the delivery journey.


As Black Friday/Cyber Monday 2021 approaches and retailers are busy getting their promotions and marketing campaigns ready to launch, remember this – getting a delivery is the only part of the customer journey with a 100% open rate. Now is the time to ensure that a delivery surge only impacts the customer experience in a positive way. 

Want to improve your tracking and reporting to discover what your customers really want from deliveries? Talk to us!

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Michelle McSweeney Content Marketer

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