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Meeting this year’s festive delivery challenge head on


Rebecca Hennessy 4 minute read Data quality
Yet again, the festive shopping boom that is Black Friday has proved to be a firm fixture in the UK retail calendar. Experian and IMRG recently published data to show that this year Black Friday was once again record breaking, with pre and post-Christmas sales dates also predicted to see big rises (including an increase of 22% in online shopping spend this Boxing Day). For retailers going through one of the busiest peaks ever, it is evident that delivery is an absolute priority if the potential cost implications of misdirected deliveries are to be avoided.
Whilst there is a financial impact to getting deliveries wrong, retailers and their delivery partners also need to take into account the possible reputational damage. Last year, logistics networks suffered considerable strain from huge demand and weather conditions, which caused some larger retailers to miss their Christmas forecasts. With even more sales expected this year, there is increased potential for inaccurate data and consequently even greater risk. Bearing this in mind, retailers should consider who is fuelling the sales frenzy.

The people behind the sales rush

The first time we saw Black Friday spending peak was in 2014, when it became the biggest online shopping day of the year. Our research shows that this boom is mainly driven by two different consumer groups. 2014’s record breaking pre-Christmas sales, including over £810 million on Black Friday, was largely down to suburban and more rurally located middle income families, who are often time pressed. Post-Christmas spend on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day on the other hand, is more likely to be driven by younger, urban customers. For retailers, a major consequence of these spending habits is the increased pressure on delivery networks during the early season sales, given that the majority of online shoppers are located outside city centres in rural areas.
Another considerable issue lies in the potential strain that gets put back onto the retailer. Getting deliveries wrong means not only that the cost of redelivery will be incurred, but that businesses will also have to bear the costs associated with the time and resource spent on dealing with complaints through phone, email and social channels. Aside from these operational challenges there is also an impact on reputation and brand equity when customer expectations are not met.

Maintaining accurate data

For retailers it comes down to doing everything possible to reduce the number of missed deliveries, especially during the festive peak season when customers expect gifts to arrive on time for Christmas. Failed deliveries that result from inaccurate data are not acceptable, as it will ultimately affect the customer experience and cost retailers even more in redelivery charges and returns.
To meet such challenges, implementing procedures to validate addresses at the point of capture is a critical activity. Not only does such a measure ensure accuracy but it also makes the shopping process smoother for the customer. Retailers can also go a step further and add even more detailed data to addresses, such as Ordnance Survey Geo codes which enable delivery companies to pinpoint exact locations and deliver more efficiently. In the pre-Christmas rush, when we predict that a large number of online shoppers will be from more rural areas, this could prove incredibly useful for enabling more accurate delivery.
If anything, the staggering volume of online sales during the pre-Christmas period tells us that online shopping is now the norm for a large majority of shoppers who will turn to this channel across the year. So whilst it is true that digital channels are rapidly growing in importance, the postal address is still just as crucial as ever and that makes address validation a business critical activity for retailers. For further information, read more about how address validation can help you.