As we approach Black Friday, retailers and brands are sharpening their strategies to make the most of the upcoming peak season. In 2021, delivery volumes are predicted to grow 11% on last year. And this time around, the industry can add labor and supply shortages to their list of challenges.

Metapack’s VP of Marketing, Heather Boyd, sat down with Zaeem Batavia, Head of the Ecommerce Division at Descartes to discuss the most important levers their top customers are using to stay on top of what’s shaping up to be an epic peak season.

Metapack X Peoplevox Peak 2021 predictions

Safeguard delivery proposition with carrier contingency

When pressure is combined with uncertainty, then contingency planning is imperative. A key reason why retailers rely on Metapack coming into peak season is in order to access a full suite of carriers to safeguard their delivery proposition in case their usual network becomes overloaded.

“We see things right now like driver shortages or general carrier capacity limits, we’re also seeing peak surcharges that carriers are implementing,” says Heather.

“These are going to impact retailers’ delivery plans. Retailers that only have one or two carriers are going to have problems. When that peak volume pressure combines with uncertainty, ensuring you have a strong carrier network is going to be imperative.”

Meanwhile, on the front end of the business, Heather says a range of delivery options can help retailers convert, especially as we get further into peak season and time pressure becomes more of an issue.

Fulfillment as a key differentiator

At Descartes Peoplevox, the focus is more on the role of the warehouse, a step before delivery. Zaeem says the company’s most prepared customers are realizing the increasingly important role fulfillment plays in the overall online shopping experience and looking to take back control of this process.

“One major trend we’ve seen in the last 18 months is brands and merchants are wanting to wrestle back control and deliver on their own customer promises,” says Zaeem.

“As people have pivoted towards online, they’ve realized that letting a customer down in ecommerce is totally different than letting a customer down in retail and wholesale. In ecom, if you send the wrong product to the wrong person, it’s usually disastrous.”

Given the rising cost of customer acquisition, ecommerce retailers need to protect their investment by retaining these hard-won customers. And according to Zaeem, fulfillment is a make or break when it comes to customer loyalty.

Make stores work harder

Online might be booming right now, but that doesn’t mean offline can’t help to meet demand. Heather says many of Metapack’s top customers are responding to rising online volumes by transforming their physical stores into micro-fulfillment centers.

“Another trend we’re seeing is retailers getting their physical stores to work harder for them. Tactics like ‘ship from store’ are crucial for our most prepared customers,” says Heather.

“If someone does leave their holiday shopping to the last minute, ‘ship from store’ can help them get their order faster, while the retailer can use that store as a pseudo warehouse.”

By implementing ‘ship from store’, in-store items can be picked to fulfill online orders, reducing strain on warehouses. On the other hand, using ‘click and collect’ as a fulfillment method has the added advantage of driving footfall into physical outlets, where many customers go on to make additional purchases. In fact, our research shows that 52% have made an additional purchase when collecting orders in-store.

The difference between a great peak season and a disastrous one is a retailer’s ability to provide uninterrupted convenience and reliability to their customers. The backbone of experiences like these is a resilient fulfillment network – from the warehouse right through to delivery. Thanks to the integration between Descartes Peoplevox and Metapack, customers from both companies can gain more control over this entire process, and in turn win back better experiences for their customers. Find out more about the integration here.