- Nowadays, consumers are spoilt for choices and expect fast, and often, free delivery, even during peak periods.
- Small businesses competing with retail online giants need to plan their delivery capability and scalability ahead of time.
- Employ extra manpower and get the tech team ready to fix issues during busy seasons, learn from your lessons and differentiate your offerings or service from competitors.
With online retail giants such as Amazon and eBay as competition, it’s never been more important for small businesses to provide fast and reliable delivery across Australia. Industries such as food and clothing are feeling the pressure as large-scale businesses grow even bigger and consumer expectations rise.
Although the demand for delivery services in Australia isn’t quite as high compared to other countries such as the United States, research from Roy Morgan showed in just three months, nearly two millions Australians aged 14 and above used food delivery services including Uber Eats, Menulog and Deliveroo.
Small businesses in niche fields such as gifting understand that consumers want shorter delivery times and more often than not, free delivery.
As the COO of The Hamper Emporium, a gift hamper delivery service across Australia, we have the challenge of keeping up with fluctuating demand year-round because our business is heavily impacted by seasonal trends.
For instance, demand for deliveries increases dramatically around special occasions and holidays such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas and Valentine’s Day.
This year, there were 51% more sales during the lead up to Valentine’s Day, and in 2018, hampers were sold every 14 seconds on peak days leading up to Christmas with more than 102,900 gifts dispatched.
Since launching The Hamper Emporium nearly 12 years ago, customer service has been a priority and that means delivering a great user experience from the moment a hamper is ordered through to delivery.
Here are a few of my tips to get your delivery to speed.
1. Always be prepared
The first step to making sure your business, particularly your team, can handle the demand and scale of your delivery operations is to plan and prepare.
The expected busy season might be weeks or even months away but preparing ahead is the most important strategy to making sure your business runs successfully.
Examples of good planning include:
- Hire additional staff to help during expected busy seasons
If you know your business will receive increased orders during holidays, or because of internal forces such as sales, have extra staff on hand to complete jobs including packaging products, maintaining the warehouse and delivering orders. In the lead-up to Christmas, our team usually expands from 25 to close to 100 people to handle the demand.
- Have staff available to handle the digital side of the business
Sure, you might have extra staff to help with packaging and delivering, but if your website crashes due to heavy traffic, you need to have someone ready to fix the problem immediately, or you’ll be losing sales in seconds.
Putting the time in to plan not only sees you being better prepared before business booms, it also allows you to assess risks, allocate more time to revise and update your plan and offer an opportunity to improve your business’s performance.
2. Learn from previous years
No one likes when mistakes happen but it’s important to learn from them and find what needs to be changed.
As there are many factors involved in the delivery process, you need to analyse your business’s performance and identify exactly what worked and what could be improved. Take notes while you’re in the thick of it to help with the analysis post-peak.
Was your website hosting platform not processing orders? Were products being forgotten from orders? Or were orders being lost in transit? Did certain processes waste time or money?
Look through all information, including figures and customer feedback to help identify and analyse what may have gone wrong. This will also help you find what worked in previous years to see how this can be used to your advantage.
3. Differentiate yourself from competitors
According to the most recent data from the Australia Bureau of Statistics (ABS), there are more than two million small businesses operating in Australia. It’s not only important now more than ever, but necessary for businesses to stand out from their competitors and show consumers why their service or product is better.
A great way to achieve this is by supporting other local businesses. Many of our hampers at The Hamper Emporium feature products from Australian businesses including The Woods Farm Jervis Bay, The Brewer’s Nut Co. and Kangaroo Island Produce Co. These products are undeniably a key contribution to separating ourselves from competitors as we can ensure customers will receive gourmet food, champagne and wine in their orders.
Depending on your service, you may also be able to offer express delivery or delivery at a suitable time for the customer. If this is an option you’re looking towards, it’s imperative your business can deliver on what you’re offering.
With the delivery demand in Australia only expected to increase over the next few years, small businesses need to start adjusting to the expectations of consumers and the pressure of large-scale competitors sooner rather than later.
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