Peak season is around the corner. And it starts earlier each year. Major retailers are kicking off their holiday promotions well before Black Friday. And customers are filling their carts sooner, too. 

Small and midsize businesses need to be ready to capture those dollars. But their success this holiday season may hinge on how quickly they can deliver. Two-thirds (68%) of shoppers in one survey said fast shipping would motivate them to complete an online order. Meanwhile, another study found that nearly half (46%) of shoppers would leave their virtual carts if shipping times were longer than expected or not provided.

We all know that a successful peak season requires having enough inventory to meet demand and the capacity to get those orders to customers where and when they want them. And with demand for same-day delivery growing, small and midsize businesses can’t risk missing out on an opportunity to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty — and, along with it, their brand’s reputation. 

That task could be especially challenging this year, as the combination of cooling demand and high fuel and labor costs challenges retailers with an unpredictable peak season. Many organizations are looking for more efficiency as a result. And that may mean outsourcing non-core business functions, including store-to-door delivery. 

Now is the time to equip your entire operation for a successful peak season, whether that comes from updating your processes or forging new partnerships. Read on for our tips on how your business can thrive during the holiday surge, and learn how crowdsourced delivery using Roadie can help.

3 tips for local delivery success this peak season

Start your peak season early.

Black Friday isn’t the shotgun start to peak season that it used to be. Instead, both retailers and shoppers have pushed the season earlier and earlier: 61% of consumers were holiday shopping by early November last year, compared to just over half in 2011, according to the National Retail Federation

That means now is the time to start talking with your customers about peak season product offerings, promotions and order deadlines. Make sure your channels — from social media to email to your website — are updated with the latest information in each of these areas. 

And it’s never too early to think about personalization. Will you offer gift wrapping, custom notes with each order or even let customers send gifts same-day for hand-delivery to recipients’ doorsteps? Those touches can have a big impact on customer retention. Four in five shoppers are more likely to return to brands that personalize, McKinsey found

Make sure inventory is where you need it.

Having the right inventory in the right place can make or break your peak season. Stock up on the products you expect will move fast, get rid of deadstock and make sure your inventory is well-organized so your team and customers can find what they need quickly. 

Now is a great time to check in with your suppliers. Are they anticipating delays? Having a heads-up on potential product availability issues gives you plenty of time to adjust your peak season strategy. (When delays do happen, we’ve prepared a guide for how to keep customers in the loop.) 

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You can also move inventory as close to customers as possible. If you have retail stores, consider using them to hold inventory for delivery so you can reduce the time it takes customers to get their orders. With crowdsourced delivery, you can deliver from your brick-and-mortar locations using local drivers. Crowdsourcing can also help you move inventory between locations, and deliver right from your warehouse.

Be ready to deliver any item, anytime, anywhere.

Whether you’ve offered delivery or are considering it for the first time, working with a mix of delivery partners ensures you’re ready to handle any kind of order. Local couriers and traditional carriers continue to be solid standbys. But their capacity and scheduling limits mean they can’t reliably handle overflow and last-minute orders, or efficiently send products that are bulky, heavy or oversized.

That’s where crowdsourcing can help. Crowdsourced delivery uses drivers already on the road in your community. You can use that delivery capacity only when you need it, so you’re not paying for vehicles and drivers you don’t need. And Roadie’s algorithm will match your order with a vehicle that’s right for the job. Plus, crowdsourced drivers are available on-demand, meaning you can dispatch orders as they come in — no matter the size, shape or weight — and offer your customers the option of same-day delivery for every item.

Other features that make crowdsourced delivery with Roadie stand out include being able to:

  • Communicate directly with drivers in the Roadie app and provide detailed information about pickups and dropoffs as well as special considerations for delivering orders. Drivers are pre-screened, so you can feel confident that your products are in good hands.
  • Use less packaging than when sending in traditional channels. But if you’re sending perishable items, remember to consider the length of the delivery journey and include hot/cold bags or other handling instructions to ensure orders arrive safely.
  • Upload orders in bulk to make sending high volumes easier on your team, and use Roadie to batch several orders with one driver to save money. Consider this: Businesses sending more than five deliveries per day using Roadie can save an average of 25% on delivery costs. 
  • Offer at-home returns pickup to give customers top-notch service in all their interactions with your company.

Make the most of crowdsourced delivery by gearing up your operations for smooth order pickups. That includes clearly labeling orders to ensure drivers take the correct deliveries, staging the order in a location that is easy for drivers and staff to find, and clearly labeling your store or facility so drivers can be in and out quickly.

Delivering on-demand using a crowdsourced delivery platform can give small and midsize businesses the flexibility, scalability and speed they need to compete with national retailers during the peak season rush. And you’ll be shielded from today’s rough market headwinds, freeing you up to focus on what truly matters to your business. 

Crowdsourced, on-demand delivery can be affordable, too. Consider whether you’ll charge your customers extra for same-day delivery or offer it as a free perk. You can also set cart minimums for same-day or make it available only to certain customers, like those in your loyalty program. Roadie works with retailers to find a price for same-day delivery that works for both the sender and their customer. 

Ready to crush peak season? Click here to learn more about how crowdsourced, same-day delivery with Roadie can help you give customers a holiday shopping experience that keeps them coming back.