The summer holidays are over so it must be time to worry about Christmas. And, after the debacle of black Friday last year, it will be particularly worrying for some.
Manpower’s Employment Outlook Survey highlights the fact that transport companies are on the lookout to boost their staff. “Last year, retailers and delivery companies took a lot of flack for the backlog of deliveries caused by Black Friday and Cyber Monday discount events,” said Simon Edwards, operations director at Manpower.
“As a result, we’re seeing many delivery networks re-evaluating the levels of their seasonal workforces – and also engaging them earlier – to handle the extra demand generated by pre-Christmas sales.”
Manpower’s study is supported by The Close Brothers Business Barometer which found that a quarter of transport SMEs have put business growth at the top of the agenda for the next 12 months.
Nevertheless, last week Royal Mail warned that up to 3.1 million SMEs run the risk of not being able to meet their delivery promises and may undermine customer satisfaction on Black Friday,
It surveyed 250 small business owners and found that while 95 per cent are making preparations of some form, but only 38 per cent had extended their ‘delivery window’ to allow more time to get deliveries to consumers and just 36 per cent were working with their delivery provider to forecast volumes.
It’s worth pointing out at this point that The latest figures from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index have revealed that UK online retail sales were up 12 per cent year-on-year in July. Excluding travel, the Index recorded growth of 15 per cent. Sales made via a mobile device saw a 42 per cent annual growth. And a study by Yodel in July found that four times as many shoppers are planning to place online orders this Black Friday compared to 2014.
Of course, some organisations are well ahead of the curve when it comes to planning. Royal Mail started planning its temporary facilities for this year back in February, for example.
Yodel has brought in Mark Horrobin as peak programme director to strengthen and oversee its planning and execution for the Christmas peak.
And John Lewis has just set out plans to bring it more than 3,000 temporary staff to meet demand at its distribution centres and stores over the Christmas period. Last year, John Lewis was one of the big winners. The week of Black Fridaywas the biggest for sales in John Lewis’s 150 year history – up 22 per cent on last year, with johnlewis.com experiencing a 300 per cent increase in traffic during the early hours of trading on Black Friday itself.
The message is clear, it might only be the start of September but companies that have not yet got their peak plans in place are in danger of being overtaken. Christmas starts now.