Eight out of 10 SME retailers say they do not feel prepared to face shipping delays and uncertainty over the peak Christmas shopping period, according to research published this week.
The research by Temando, a shipping platform for ecommerce, surveyed 200 Australian small, micro, mid-size and enterprise retailers and asked if businesses felt confident about satisfying customers over the peak period.
Temando defines micro retailers as those that ship less than 20 deliveries per week; small retailers as those that shop between 21-100 deliveries per week, mid-size retailers as those that ship between 101-20,000 deliveries per week; and enterprise retailers as those that ship more than 20,000 deliveries a week.
It found 83% of the businesses surveyed feel they not well prepared to handle delays and uncertainty with shipping.
The survey also found 80% of the retailers feel their back-end logistics systems are not up to scratch in terms of dealing with an influx of sales orders over the Christmas period.
High courier rates were cited as a key concern among retailers, with 37% overall indicating it is the main shipping difficulty they face. Smaller retailers expressed more concern about this than larger businesses.
When it came to offering multiple shipping options, such as same-day delivery and express options, more than three quarters of the retailers surveyed (77%) said they are not organised in what they ware currently offering.
Temando co-founder and chief executive Carl Hartmann said the Christmas period throws up its own set of unique challenges for online retailers and being prepared is vital.
“Shipping and fulfilment are highly complex and important processes not only for business operations, but for keeping customers happy, especially as many online stores hit their peak sales period when customers are prone to be distressed and unsatisfied if gifts arrive late,” he says.
Temando’s head of marketing Hamish Grant told SmartCompany this morning the report highlights a number of difficulties for small retailers when it came to shipping over the Christmas period.
Also, Grant says the findings are consistent with what Temando has found in the past regarding larger retailers having the advantage over smaller retailers.
“It’s not surprising to us that the research would come back and say smaller retailers are struggling to compete,” he says.
Grant says larger retailers have been quick to adapt to changes in consumer behaviour, implementing faster shipping systems and turnaround times.
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“What we’ve found in the past is that enterprise retailers in the market are in the position to take advantage of these changes,” he says.
“They have the operations and resources to take advantage of trends (toward faster turnaround times).”
Grant says smaller retailers face increasing challenges when it came to shipping during peak periods because of the expectation consumers have developed from dealing with large retail shipping processes.
“Once they’ve (the consumer) had it, they expect it,” he says.
“It can be really hard for smaller retailers to keep up.”
Grant says the lead-up to Christmas is the busiest time for retailers across all segments
“What does a smaller retailer do one week out from Christmas when those orders start coming in?” he says.
“There’s a highly likelihood of not meeting their customers’ expectations.”