Logistics Solutions for Small Businesses at Christmas
December 6, 2017 by Susan Brooks
In many ways, the festive period can be like harvest time for small businesses. The peak in demand across so many business and service sectors during this time means that a lot of small businesses look to earn a significant portion of their yearly revenue during this relatively short period.
However, if you are to maximise your profits potential during this time, effective logistics planning is a must. Set plans in place early to ensure that you can deliver your product in a timely fashion – and keep your customers happy!
Most customers are savvy enough to know that delivery times can increase over the festive period, especially as the big day itself approaches, and last-minute panic buying takes place!
Don’t promise the earth to your customers because you are simply setting yourself up to fail – and also foot the bill! Remember the golden rule of logistics at all times – fast is expensive, cheap is slow. Finding a happy middle ground is going to keep your customers happy and your profits healthy, provided you are open and upfront.
Communication is Key
Talk to your customers to keep them happy. Tempers can fray, especially around Christmas. If people are worried that their product is not going to arrive on time it is going to rapidly spike their blood pressure – and that is bad news for you and your business!
Frequent e-mail updates will reassure the customer they have not been forgotten and that their product is on its way. Reassurance in this way can often mean more than a particularly rapid delivery – and cost you a heck of a lot less money!
Fix that Returns Policy
For a small business at Christmas, to receive is as important as to give – at least in the immediate aftermath of the festive period. Around £200million of gifts are returned (usually in secret!) after the big day. Research amongst consumers also shows that if the returns policy of a company is a pain, this will have a seriously negative impact on their overall opinion of a business. If you don’t want to alienate future customers, make sure you are just as well set-up to receive back orders as you are to dispatch them.
Defend Yourself on Social Media
The world we live in today is absurdly social media savvy, and if your small business is to thrive then you should be too. One of the key reasons that people take to social media like Twitter to complain about a company is in fact with regards to delivery – a recent consumer survey suggested that around 26% of online complaints revolved around this.
It important therefore that you have a joined-up logistics plan so that you can respond effectively to online complaints. This also ties in to the tip above about being open and honest about delivery times. People are not going to complain about, for example, about waiting 5 working days for their delivery if they are prepared up front that this is the delivery window.
If they do complain, you have the ammunition to defend yourself and minimise any damage.