‘Tis the season for overloaded postal operators … but it doesn’t have to be.
Every year, we read about e-commerce’s overwhelming effect on posts or consumer fears about Christmas gifts arriving late.
Well, e-commerce is the new normal, and the holidays aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. It has become imperative for posts and couriers find ways make deliveries more manageable during the holidays.
Of course, it takes more than good cheer to make this happen. The postal industry is in a state of transformation, which means postal business leaders are making strategic decisions while also combating market realities. For instance, despite rising parcel volumes, posts are also managing rising operating costs as well.
Fortunately, there are good tidings. What’s good for posts’ holiday business is good for their year-round business, too.
During the holidays, posts face two major pain points.
Unlike the average consumer, a post can’t simply toss all its parcels under a tree. They have dedicated storage areas. But when your postal infrastructure is specifically optimized for regular season parcel volume, what do you do when the holidays arrive?
The traditional option: Acquire more space. Sadly, this is an example of being penny wise and pound foolish. While it addresses the short-term urgency, it introduces a long-term problem, since posts now have all this idle space increasing operating costs during the regular season.
In the postal world, “third time’s the charm” simply doesn’t cut it. Even “second time’s the charm” is way too expensive.
Redeliveries cost postal operators over USD$1.2 billion. Keep in mind that any instance where the recipient doesn’t personally receive the package counts as a failed delivery. For instance, if a package is dropped off on the consumer’s front step, technically, this is a failed delivery or, if we’re being generous, an unsecured delivery. Sure, there are a number of strategies carriers use to address this that have been used for many years, including leaving the package with a neighbor or returning it to the depot, but all of these alternatives result in two things:
Time for those good tidings. Fortunately, there are solutions to the issues described above.
Parcels are a handful for both consumers and postal operators. But there’s a way to make this easier for both parties.
Arranging for pick up, drop off (PUDO) locations with third-party retailers, on university campuses, or at train stations is a smart solution and there’s technology that makes this very easy for posts and the third party. For consumers, PUDO locations take the hassle out of shipping and picking up parcels, especially during the peak season when holiday shopping becomes a source of stress. Instead of going out of their way to pick things up or anxiously worrying that an expensive package might be snatched off their doorstep, consumers can drop off parcels on their way to work and pick up their packages on their way back. The longer operating hours and convenient locations make this an even more compelling option for consumers.
This also alleviates the pressure on posts. Redeliveries and lost or stolen packages are unfortunate at any time of year, but these bad experiences are magnified during the holidays when customers are sensitive to errors and the media is on the lookout for mishaps. PUDO outlets allow posts to ramp up quickly before peak season and then quickly return to normal operation after the peak season without having any huge, unnecessary upfront or ongoing fixed costs. Plus, the retailer will appreciate the extra foot traffic to their stores!
And these PUDO locations can also come in the form of pop-up shops and postal lockers in malls or apartments. So there’s a PUDO solution for almost every situation.
Today’s customers expect digital-first customer service. For posts, this means that customers expect self-serve options for accessing real-time information about the status of their deliveries.
During the holidays, this is especially important. With more mail and packages circulating during the holidays – around 16 billion through the U.S. Postal Service alone! – there’s a serious spike in call volumes, potentially overloading your customer service team. By providing a way for customers to get quick answers to common questions like, “What’s the ETA on this package?” or “Can I schedule a pick up?” you can free up your customer service teams to deal with thornier or more complex issues.
But how exactly can you do this? You can start by implementing the following.
Parcels don’t have to be a pain, and the holidays don’t have to be the time of year posts dread. With the right technology and service options, posts can look forward to the holiday season and the increased revenue it brings.