How COVID-19 is Impacting Retail Fulfillment
COVID-19 has turned the world of retail upside down. Hundreds of millions of Americans have been ordered to stay home during the pandemic, resulting in thousands of shuttered brick-and-mortar businesses and a surge in online shopping. In the face of all this uncertainty, retailers are trying to understand how COVID-19 will impact everything from maintaining sales to navigating supply chain disruptions to delivery.
To help retailers get a sense of what the future may hold, Convey analyzed tens of millions of packages shipped during the second week of March from more than 500,000 U.S. locations across the company’s client base. The subsequent data provides invaluable insight into shipping volume, order fulfillment time and delivery time.
The data showed that shipping volume for cleaning and household supplies is up 52 percent from the same period last year. Fulfillment time has also increased almost 40 percent over the past three weeks — the same order that used to take 15.1 hours to fulfill now takes 21.2 hours to fulfill. It’s even worse for large-format deliveries, more than doubling from 20.1 hours on Feb. 23 to 44.4 hours as of March 16. This all results in slower shipping times downstream as the overall percentage of parcels missing their estimated delivery date rose from 12 percent as of March 1 to 17 percent as of March 24.
The disruptions would be easier to bear if retailers had deeper insight into exactly how this increased demand and limited supply is impacting supply chains. Carrier timetables were inaccurate before COVID-19 sowed chaos. Knowing exactly how long it takes to fulfill an order and ship it to its destination would give retailers a better understanding of internal processes, enabling them to take actions to speed deliveries and improve the customer experience. Communicating accurate shipping time to customers would also go a long way toward easing customer anxieties in this difficult time and building brand loyalty.
That’s why Convey is giving retailers free access to its Discover product through the end of April. This allows retailers to identify and triangulate the root cause of network transportation issues and speed order fulfillment and delivery time. We can make sure people get the food, household products and medical supplies they need while essential needs such as medical equipment manufacturing and protective gear production can continue unabated. Working together, we can beat this. But it all starts with gaining visibility into unreliable supply chains, order fulfillment and shipping times.
Carson Krieg is co-founder and director of carrier operations at Convey, a leader in delivery experience management (DEM) solutions.