The Christmas season is well and truly here, with sales events popping up left, right and centre. We asked a series of experts for their advice heading into the sales events season, and how to reduce strain.
The National Retail Association came out swinging, telling Australians to ‘shop early, shop often’ in the lead up to the peak season. This comes as the industry body predicted that $60 billion will be spent throughout the festive season, with $8 billion anticipated to come from online shopping.
“Our number one message to Australians this Christmas is to get in early to ensure you get your preferred items under the festive tree in 2021,” shared Dominique Lamb, the CEO of the National Retail Association. “The NRA is forecasting a total of $60 billion to be spent during the Christmas trade period – the second half of November and all of December – and that includes an online spend of over $8 billion.”
According to a report from CouriersPlease, 96 percent of shoppers said they would allow more time for deliveries and shipping during the Black Friday weekend and Christmas, in an effort to reduce the strain for retailers.
Black Friday is expected to be the largest sales event in the lead up to the holiday season, with 41 percent of Australians forecast to splurge on the day. This is roughly 8.2 million people who are expecting to make a purchase during the event. As 24 percent plan to also spend on Cyber Monday, the courier service is warning that there will be extra pressure put on last-mile services.
“Our findings reveal that shoppers are becoming increasingly aware of the surge in orders retailers receive during these busy sales periods and the pressure this puts on the supply chain,” said Paul Roper, the CCO at CouriersPlease.
Consumers are Happy to Wait
The report found that 96 percent of consumers are willing to wait a little bit longer to get their parcels on time, with 52 percent happy to wait an additional two or three days for their items to arrive. Seventeen percent said they’d be prepared to wait an extra four to six days for a parcel if need be.
Roper explained that as the e-commerce boom continues, consumers are more understanding of these delays. “Customers are willing to wait additional days for delivery as long as their delivery company is effectively communicating with them and managing delivery time expectations,” he said.
Last year’s Christmas saw more than eight million parcels handled by CouriersPlease, and the team are expecting to add on an extra 30 percent of parcel volume this year. As such, he has offered advice for retailers heading into the holiday season.
“During major sales events, retailers would be wise to set realistic delivery timelines as well as setting conservative cut-off dates for Christmas orders to avoid unnecessary anxiety for their customers throughout the holiday period. Regular communication is key in establishing accurate delivery times and managing consumer expectations, reducing customer service enquiries and complaints,” he said.
Lockdown Flow-On Effects
The ongoing lockdown measures throughout much of 2021 across Australia caused a backlog of deliveries, which is sure to increase as the holiday season progresses. RMIT Univeristy’s Associate Professor, Vinh Thai explained that those who plan to purchase items that feature electronic chips may end up paying more and waiting longer.
“I have no doubt customers in Australia will experience a shortage of products for this Christmas and pay a higher price, especially those that require chips,” he said. As such, he warns consumers that if they want an item to arrive by Christmas, they should do so as early as possible. “The current shortage of supply is largely due to a shortage of empty sea-going containers, as most consumer products such as electronics, clothing, and white goods are transported in these containers,” he said. “Increasing supply capacity requires investment in infrastructure and this takes time.”
A logjam of issues has arisen as a result of the pandemic, including disruptions to the supply chain, a reduction in port workers and vessel crews, a ‘mismatch’ between Australian truck drivers and ships at sea, and many others.
Discretional spending is often going into electronics, Thai explained, which may contribute to this logjam. “There is currently a backlog of empty containers at container parks in Australia, which desperately need to go back to the high-exporting countries but have no ships to take them,” he said. “The economic recovery in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic will be slowed down due to current supply chain issues. Think about switching to alternative products available in the market, shop local, or think about how to celebrate the festive season differently.”
The e-commerce landscape is changing. With a Power Retail Switched On membership, you get access to current e-commerce revenue and forecasting, traffic levels, average conversion rate, payment preferences and more!