Just when we thought ecommerce peak season couldn’t get any bigger, 2021 is on track to break all the records set in 2020. How can retailers manage demand while upholding their competitive delivery experience? We spoke to Cheyney Cartwright, a commercial leader at Amazon Shipping, and Nick McGinn, Carrier Business Development Director at Metapack, about pathways to shipper contingency.

What are your expectations for this upcoming ecommerce peak season?

Cheyney, Amazon Shipping:

After the seasonal period we had last year and the social impact for many, I think customers are eager to return to the traditional seasonal spirit and optimism is far greater ahead of festive peak in 2021.

December will of course bring the usual last-minute gifting ideas demanding fast delivery to arrive with recipients on time, but overall customers are starting to think about their seasonal shopping list even earlier, with industry data suggesting more people than ever likely to wrap up their buying before December even starts.

Nick, Metapack:

This year, we’re predicting even bigger peak delivery volumes than last year. Although growth will slow down slightly, we’re still predicting an 11% YoY increase across the entire peak 2021 period (you can find out more about our predictions for Peak 2021 in our interactive guide).

What do you think the biggest challenges will be for retailers? How can they overcome them?

Cheyney, Amazon Shipping:

Customers expect retailers to be reliable all year round but this becomes harder to achieve during peak periods like the one we’re expecting this year. Customer trust is hard earned and easily lost with a bad delivery experience. They will be hoping for festive magic once again, purchasing gifts that are delivered on time and with speed.

We know from RetailX online research that 80% of customers buying in gift categories believe next-day delivery is important for all or most of their purchases1, and retailers need to have confidence in their delivery partners to meet these needs, delighting customers in their gifting experience.

If retailers can deliver a successful peak season in 2021, it creates a strong platform going into next year for customer retention and growth. 95% of customers will purchase again from the same retailer if they receive an order quickly, so it’s important to work with a provider giving that option2.

Nick, Metapack:

Another record-breaking peak is good news for retailers, but volumes like these will place additional pressure on supply chains and carrier networks. According to our research, 81% of consumers had a bad delivery experience in 2020, which was a five time increase on the previous year. Consumers were understanding of shortages and delays at the beginning of the pandemic, but poor performance at this point runs the risk of putting off customers for good.

Contingency planning is imperative when pressure is combined with uncertainty. Retailers need access to a full suite of carriers to safeguard their delivery proposition in case their usual network becomes overloaded. They must also offer a broad range of delivery options, especially as we get further into peak season and time pressure mounts.

Do you think ecommerce peak will change permanently as a result of the ecommerce boom we’ve seen since the pandemic?

Cheyney, Amazon Shipping:

During lockdown many customers have seen the benefits of convenience and speed that online shopping can offer when done well, meeting a variety of shopping needs across a range of different categories.

Next-day delivery is more important than ever, with RetailX finding that 47% of customers saying it was important for all or most online purchases yet only 25% of retailers promote this via their website. Customers will expect delivery partners to continue innovating and find new solutions to provide trackable, quick shipping with greater convenience.

For example, at Amazon Shipping we started enabling weekend collections in the UK, so that pickup operations on Fridays and Mondays could be smoothed out. This also allowed us to start making some weekend deliveries as well.

Nick, Metapack:

Even though households have saved around £200 billion during COVID, credit data from the Bank of England shows consumer spending hasn’t picked up yet. Spending trends will not be uniform across the community. It has been suggested that the recovery, post-Covid may be K-shaped rather than V-shaped. Where some groups will have pent-up spending, the experience of those just making ends meat through the pandemic will have little cash to spare as we come out of it.

With spending caution coming into peak season we predict that fast, flexible delivery will be an essential component to entice last-minute shoppers.

Why is Amazon Shipping a great shipper contingency partner for online retailers?

Cheyney, Amazon Shipping:

Ultimately success in peak comes down to strength in planning. Amazon Shipping build their plans centered around providing a brilliant experience during the busiest periods. We plan our peak capacities many years out, and keep these under constant review.

Amazon Shipping is customer-obsessed and innovation driven. The last mile delivery is the crucial last leg of the race, so you need to find a shipping partner that is constantly thinking about ways to improve capacity, increase speed, and ensure reliability. We have a track record of performance excellence in on-time delivery through peak, working with a variety of retailers.

We are focused on getting it right first time by sharing both 2-4 hour predicted delivery windows, keeping customers informed via SMS and email notifications, then making up to 3 customer delivery attempts to ensure your packages successfully reach the customer. We ensure confidence in recipient and shipper tracking by including GPS location of delivery for all deliveries, and believe in treating our shippers’ customers as if they were our own.

Find out more about Amazon Shipping, and how you can start using them as part of your Metapack Shipping Software, here.