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America’s shopping season is always busy. It’s a stretch for shippers and carriers and an increased demand across many markets bringing forth all kinds of challenges. This prime time retail season begins mid-August and goes on until Thanksgiving. High demand and freight rates, back-to-school shopping, and increased labor costs affect supply chains during the holiday season.

America’s e-commerce and retail market overview

Back in early 2020, the e-commerce industry skyrocketed with the coming of the pandemic. A worldwide lockdown, combined with public-health concerns for both businesses and consumers, made digital sales boom in a very short period of time. Those who were able to adapt and innovate amidst this crisis kept afloat, those who couldn’t keep up scrambled and eventually dissolved.

Cut to 2022, online sales figures have only gone up and the signs of sales reverting to pre pandemic levels seems unlikely. There’s been a 70% growth from 2019, and by the year 2023, e-commerce will make up 22% of global retail sales while U.S. e-commerce revenue rises to $740 billion. In fact, forecasts suggest that online sales will account for nearly half of all retail revenues by 2024.

On the surface, this sounds like great news for businesses, but growth of the e-commerce market does not guarantee growth for companies. If anything, increasing congestion in urban areas, steep customer demands, and stiff competition make growth more elusive than ever before. It may look like an uphill battle but a sustainable growth is possible, as long as we have a data-driven approach to last mile excellence. Our Founder and CEO, Nishith Rastogi, believes that last mile has the potential to evolve from a cost center to a growth center.

Who are your shoppers?

The modern consumer is not easy to pin down. They exist under growing economic pressures with an increasing number of competitive options and their loyalty isn’t easily earned. The American shopper is also more diverse than ever before. Not only do race and ethnicity bring in this diversity, factors such as income, education and geography add to this multifariousness as well.

Out of these, millennials make up the most diverse generational cohort, with nearly half of them belonging to ethnic and racial minorities. As the Gen Z cohort rises, this diversification will only continue. American households are also making a lot more revenue which translates to a greater spending power. People in every age cohort and income group spent more of their money, although year-over-year spending growth was highest among millennials (17 percent) and high-income consumers (16 percent).

Inflation came knocking earlier in 2022—the period between May 2021 to March 2022 recorded the highest inflation in ten years, though it did not stop US consumers from loosening their purse strings. US consumers spent 18 percent more in March 2022 than they did two years ago, although the nominal year-on-year spend was less than in late 2021.

Where are the consumers spending?

The recent Ukraine war and inflation may have dipped in February 2022, but overall consumer spending is still going strong. What has inflation changed? More and more people are looking for value and price remains at the top of the consumer list to keep their motivations from dipping. This makes innovation and agility a non-negotiable for businesses.

What does the modern customer want this peak season?

There are no tricks or a tried-and-true hack to get customers on your side. Customer preferences are ever changing and dependent on demand, supply, price, quality of the product, price sensitivity and purchasing power, among others.

Loyalty is not easily promised by today’s fickle-minded customer so they need to be wooed every step of the way. This means making the shopping journey seamless from the start to the finish. No opportunity with the customer should be missed, simply because there are very few to begin with.

Businesses must make the best use of data from all sources to get an insight into customer spending. This knowledge will determine content and creative planning, buying and optimization and will be key in fuelling long-term growth for your business. Speed and efficiency are also important to keep the customer happy and data must be used as a guide to understand customer patterns.

Sustainability practices, which were previously only somewhat important to customers have grown to become a business imperative. Two-thirds of global consumers cite sustainability as a major contributor to purchasing decisions and this number grows when you isolate the data for young shoppers. Shipping methods that have a low carbon footprint and recycled packaging are the obvious steps forward.

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Why is the last mile complicated?

Each last-mile delivery connects, depends on and relied upon by various stakeholders in the supply chain. Unpredictability sits at the center of last-mile deliveries and fulfillment timelines are constantly tightening. The last mile is an expensive affair with visibility being a common and persistent issue.

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What makes last-mile more complicated in the US? For one, retailers find themselves unable to meet peak season demands due to limited fulfillment capacity. Then there is the driver shortage problem which is exacerbating the already strained supply chain. Inefficient route planning leads to extra miles, extra fuel, and thereby an extra burden on drivers and dispatchers. Very often, resources are unavailable at customer’s preferred times and even if they are, planning tasks for specific time windows is difficult with human intelligence alone. Other than this, many retailers still rely on disconnected systems to plan, manage and monitor last-mile operations.

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Six hacks for handling peak season logistics better this year

Start planning ahead

Leverage data and insights to forecast peak season consumer behavior and plan your distribution networks, sourcing locations, and additional fleet requirements well in advance of the holiday season.

Personalize communication

Stand out from your competitors with clear, real-time communication with customers throughout the shopping experience. This is the time to personalize communications as well as set delivery timing expectations right with the customer as demand goes up.

Get closer to the customer

Set up your fulfillment centers closer to high density order areas and urban localities to reach customers faster.

Equip your drivers for excellence

Equip your drivers and delivery partners with accurate location and routing tools, and incentivize them for better performance.

Plan your last mile better

From order capture to dispatching, rider allocation and fleet management, plan your last mile logistics better to avoid last minute hiccups in deliveries.

Watch and learn

Monitor your on-ground logistics with live visibility tools, prevent errors in real time and learn from ground data to make better decisions.

A dispatch management platform to meet your peak season needs

Businesses need to solve for more than just speedy deliveries. Customers flock to brands with carefully considered fulfillment journeys and those that extend their brand ethos into customer homes with branded delivery experiences. Customer service needs to be ahead of delays, cancellations and disruptions to manage customer expectations. Maintaining real time visibility of driver and order status is essential to maintaining compliance with optimized routes. Here’s how Locus’ Dispatch Management Platform can help you meet these needs:

Schedule deliveries automatically

Businesses can obtain last-mile excellence through the automated stages of order fulfillment. The DMP integrates order processing by automatically grouping and shipping across multiple channels and business units in a single dashboard. It automates fulfillment workflows by pre-configuring rules to automate deliveries for diverse fulfillment models, returns and cancellations. It can track the health and progress of tours from the beginning to the end, even at the order level.

Power frictionless delivery experiences

The DMP can help process cancellations, re-attempts, and returns with configurable workflows. The platform makes use of reconfigurable rules to define how orders are managed and automatically process cancellations and automates the re-initiation of failed deliveries with minimal human intervention.

Deliver exceptional customer experience in the first attempt

Locus’ Dispatch Management Platform helps you schedule deliveries based on customer experiences by automatically accounting for customer delivery time preferences as well as allocate and route on-demand orders to best-suited drivers.

Access a vast carrier network

The DMP helps source real-time quotes and SLAs from carriers for all order types to find the best one for the job. It also helps deliver orders with varying sizes and SLAs by leveraging a diverse carrier mix to accommodate a broader range of order types.

Maximize deliveries per vehicle

Using Locus’ DMP, businesses get to fulfill more orders and scale with fewer vehicles, save costs and boost productivity. The platform’s dynamic and zone-based routing can allocate resources to different zones and minimize overlap between service areas and overcome the infamous vehicle routing problem. Its powerful automation can plan and dispatch over 5,000 orders daily with minimal human intervention.

Eliminate routing errors with Locus’ geocoder

The DMP helps to map addresses precisely and eliminate inefficiencies, saving time and cost. It deciphers even the fuzziest of addresses to convert them into accurate geo-coordinates for seamless routing. Locus’ proprietary geocoding engine alerts dispatchers in case of poor address accuracy and the platform’s strategic routing unlocks zone-level SLA and resource management to maximize driver efficiency.

The Locus Dispatch Management Software is your constant companion from the moment the order is placed to the moment it reaches the customer’s doorstep by tracking on-time performance, distance, cost and other business insights, Locus’ DMP uncovers deep lying inefficiencies and helps businesses achieve their maximum potential, equip workforces for excellence, and enables companies to scale with lower emissions.

Mrinalini Khattar

About the author

Mrinalini Khattar

Mrinalini is an editor and writer at Locus. She reads whatever she can get her hands on and, more often than not, it happens to be Harry Potter.

Resources

Blog

Hyperlocal Delivery – Then and Now [2021 Future Trends]

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Blog

Zone-based routing is the need of the hour

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Blog

How Delivery Logistics Software Improves On-Time In Full (OTIF) Delivery Score

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Blog

Last Mile Customer Experience: It is no longer about reaching destinations

Read more

Get in touch with our experts for a quick tour of our solutions

Schedule a meeting with Locus

How can Locus help manage your logistics?

  • Locus’ proprietary geocoding engine converts the fuzziest of the addresses into precise geographical coordinates thereby helping your on-ground executives locate addresses easily.
  • Digitize all your operational variables such as fleets, delivery persons etc. to come up with the best route plan every day.
  • Track your orders in real-time with the Locus Live Dashboard. Locus’ last-mile delivery app Locus On The Road (LOTR) helps delivery partners process orders.
  • Visualize and tweak your scheduled plans via three key metrics— geography, time, & vehicle (fleet)—with a birds-eye view of your entire operations.
  • Build your own reports and analyze important parameters that you need to make key decisions.

Join Industry Leaders:

43m+ miles

Reduction in distance traveled

18m+ tons

Reduction in GHG emissions

$200 m

Savings in logistics costs
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