The retail sector is currently facing some of the toughest economic times it ever has. With the UK looking at the prospect of an extended lockdown many will have no choice but to close and lay off staff. Although the £350 billion package proposed by the UK Government may bring relief to some, it is hard to see to entire sector escaping unscathed. All of this comes as online retailer Amazon reports a surge in demand for its services and is struggling to keep up with the volume of orders.
Joe Farrell, VP of international operations at PFS commented on the reports.
“The news that Amazon is facing huge demand due to the coronavirus pandemic is just the beginning of what will likely be a new world order for online retailers and distribution operations. The industry is used to dealing with clearly defined peaks and troughs around religious festivals and changing seasons, but as the entire country begins to isolate and shut down, demand will only increase, indefinitely.
“With so much chaos, it is important that retailers do not lose sight of the customer. Retailers and their fulfilment teams and partners cannot control ‘the unexpected’, but they should always be able to keep the customer front of mind. Agents must temper customer expectations as demand for e-commerce fulfilment is surging, while last-mile delivery is being heavily impacted by the ripple effects of the Coronavirus.
“For drivers, reps and any touchpoint of the customer journey it is imperative to remain transparent with consumers on the progress of fulfilment and be upfront on any possible delays. While no shopper wants to hear their package is being delayed, being kept in the dark is potentially worse. From checkout to each point along fulfilment, retailers need to have a system in place to update consumers on where items are and rationale for any delays that may occur. Training agents to handle these inquiries with appropriate sensitivity to the frustrating circumstance can help ensure a positive brand representation.
“Lastly, it’s vital that all businesses remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint. We must do everything we can to look after, protect and care for our people. In these exceptional times, it’s better to push back delivery times than push our people to the limit. Communication is key.”
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