A successful peak season is a constantly evolving, not a set-it-and-forget-it, proposition. You’ve already put significant effort into aligning your product mix, customer communications and last-mile logistics strategy. Now you must be ready to adjust your plans in real time as peak season unfolds — and your forecasts show their accuracy.  

To help you do this, we’ve collected best practices for staying on top of your operation’s midseason activities. From handling events you know are coming down the pike (like processing returns) to being ready to pivot for when and where customers want delivery, these tips can help you deliver a consistently positive experience for your customers now and well after the holiday decorations come down. 

1. Start with safety

Equipping your team with the right gear can prevent injuries from sidelining your staff when you need all hands on deck. Work gloves, protective eyewear and back support belts are useful for team members that unload trucks, stock shelves or pack orders. Register operators can benefit from floor mats to help alleviate the stress of long shifts ringing up customers. Check in with team members regularly to make sure everyone follows safety procedures at all times.

2. Share last-mile logistics processes with your team

Shoppers have learned to love the convenience of same-day and next-day delivery. But this time of year especially, traditional shipping platforms are operating at max capacity with inflexible schedules that can leave customers waiting for items or overpaying for faster delivery. Crowdsourced delivery is an ideal solution, offering convenient last-mile fulfillment both for ultrafast same-day or next-day orders, and for less urgent timelines. When you bring crowdsource partners on board, make sure your members are trained on how that relationship will work. Sharing plans and processes for a smooth order handoff is essential. Your approach should include everything from accurate order picking instructions to clear signage so drivers know where to pick up orders. 

3. Maximize crowdsourcing value with batched and routed deliveries

On-demand ordering builds convenience and reliability into the shopping experience. Maximize the value that crowdsourcing brings to your business with batched and routed deliveries. Pay attention to ordering patterns, and set pickup deadlines and delivery windows that let you get multiple orders out the door with one driver on a streamlined route. Working with a partner like Roadie gives you the convenience of tweaking these schedules as needed, such as adding an additional pickup windows as order volumes increase. By batching and routing deliveries, and using crowdsourcing to fulfill them, you can get orders to customers quickly and affordably.

4. Stay on top of inventory

Accurate orders require accurate inventory counts. Half of shoppers report that out-of-stock items are among their biggest holiday-season concerns. Keep your inventory counts up to date so you can deliver a top-notch experience. Watch high-demand products closely and communicate with suppliers to plan restocks before inventory gets low. And leverage crowdsourced delivery to replenish store shelves on demand by sending items same-day between stores and from warehouses to stores.

5. Communicate delays early

If inventory issues do crop up, let customers know as early as possible. Social media, email, texts and website updates are all important ways to keep customers informed. Include supply-chain delay notifications, ordering deadlines for specialty items, anticipated restock timelines and suggestions for alternative products. We’ve crafted examples of language you can use to help manage expectations and create positive shopping experiences, even when things don’t go according to plan.

6. Get ready for peak season returns

The holiday shopping season doesn’t end when the gifts are unwrapped. In 2021, consumers were expected to return nearly 18% of retail merchandise sold during the holidays, according to the National Retail Federation. Returns are an essential component of a great customer experience, and crowdsourcing can help you make the process easier on your customers and your team. On-demand pickups right at customers’ homes and order tracking to keep tabs on returns are just a few of the perks of crowdsourced reverse logistics. Whatever return policy you develop, post it clearly on your website where two-thirds of customers will look for it before they even make a purchase.

7. Above all, communicate with your teams

No retail manager is an island. Your team will spend peak season interacting with customers, picking and packing orders, and making sure your retail spaces are clean and inviting. Make yourself available to them frequently to ensure they have the tools to do their jobs successfully and to find out what they’re hearing from customers. While you keep your eyes on the larger retail landscape, your employees are on the ground and able to report back to you about customer perspectives. Equip your employees with the tools they need, and take their feedback to fine-tune your peak season approach on the spot.

It’s not too late to add crowdsourced delivery and all its benefits to your peak season plan. Whether your goal this peak season is to grow your footprint, your bottom line or both, Roadie’s batching and routing algorithm and crowdsourced delivery platform are here to help. With 90% of U.S. households in our reach for same-day and next-day delivery, we can help you keep orders moving when it matters most. Download our peak season playbook to learn how you can make it happen with Roadie.

How crowdsourced delivery can help businesses win and keep customers in the last mile