Small and medium businesses (SMBs) often feel like they can’t compete with mega-retailers during the holiday peak season. Without massive delivery volumes, it can be difficult to secure affordable same- and next-day local delivery, especially when traditional carriers reserve most of their demand for those giant competitors. 

But don’t worry; all hope is not lost. With the right preparation, partners and tools, SMBs can position themselves for success this peak season. 

Crowdsourcing helps growing businesses level the playing field with larger competitors and offer the ultrafast delivery customers want. Using Roadie virtually any business can access a network of 200,000 crowdsourced drivers to deliver up to 100 miles from your location. 

In addition to ultrafast delivery, crowdsourcing can help SMBs face the challenges around peak season, like inventory management, route optimization, carrier diversification, surcharges and the labor shortage. Here are a few ways Roadie can help your business.

Prioritize optimized inventory management 

One of the biggest peak season challenges — for businesses big and small — is the sudden increase in demand. Companies must be able to efficiently handle these spikes by ensuring they have enough stock to meet the demand without overstocking. Businesses with poor inventory management are at risk of huge losses when inventory goes unsold, as well as from backorders, returns and slow delivery. 

That’s why accurate demand forecasting is critical for a smooth peak season. By analyzing last year’s data and current market trends, businesses of any size can make sure they have the right product, in the right hands and at the right time. It can also streamline the shipping process by identifying patterns that help you proactively address bottlenecks and project who and how you need to deliver this peak season. 

Optimized inventory management is essential to containing costs, driving revenue and creating happy customers. Using the Roadie crowdsourced delivery platform Roadie is the perfect complement to your current delivery channels to ensure inventory arrives where it needs to go, fast.

Maximize capacity with better route optimization 

Demand forecasting is also critical for route planning. Not knowing how many deliveries you can make in a day or how quickly you can deliver can be detrimental during peak season. Route optimization ensures you are driving the fewest miles possible, resulting in fuel savings and on-time deliveries. This helps you get the most out of your existing truck capacity while also delighting the customer with shorter delivery times and fewer errors. 

Roadie’s batching and routing algorithm ensures that as volume for fast deliveries increases, driver routes are optimized for speed from dock to door. Roadie’s technology creates optimized routes designed to limit backtracking and trips across town, while avoiding potential slowdowns, saving your team time and money while reducing customer wait times. 

Have a backup plan 

Another way SMBs can meet peak season frustrations head on is by creating a diverse last-mile network. Working with multiple partners and solutions creates a contingency plan for when capacity is tight. 

Diversification is about more than your delivery partners and carriers, it’s also about selecting the right delivery models for your customers. With crowdsourcing, hot-shot shipping, buy online, deliver from store (BODFS), delivery from distribution centers versus retail locations and more are open to SMBs looking to compete with large retailers that already have the money and capacity to offer them. 

Avoid peak season surcharges

Traditional parcel carriers and even some of the biggest retailers have made it common practice to implement peak season surcharges — sometimes as early as September. As consumers continue to expect faster delivery, these surcharges are being used to make up for a number of factors, including urgency, weight and even waiting charges. 

These surcharges have a huge impact on the budget of most SMBs and often result in higher shipping fees, higher free shipping thresholds or incentivizing customers who choose slower shipping methods. In a marketplace where two-day shipping is considered the minimum and free shipping is king, implementing any of these scenarios can discourage customers and keep you from making a sale. 

With Roadie, there are no fees for rush delivery requests. Simply tell them where your item needs to go and when it needs to be there. Schedule a delivery, and Roadie’s technology will match you with a driver who can deliver door to door — no surprise.

Don’t let labor shortages slow you down

On top of juggling inventory, capacity and delivery speed, SMBs are also increasingly worried about finding labor this peak season. In the retail industry, there are currently 5.5 million more job openings than there are workers to fill. The logistics sector is struggling too, with a shortage in truck drivers expected to grow to 160,000 by 2030.

While the numbers seem grim, there are still options available to retailers looking to maximize the employees they do have. Outsourcing delivery, for example, can be an impactful way to increase capacity when you’re short-staffed. This starts with: 

  • Assessing employee workloads
  • Identifying tasks that must be done in-house
  • Rethinking when work needs to be done 
  • Outsourcing the rest

Using Roadie allows you to get your same day delivery offering up and running in a single day. There are no setup fees, and a predictable delivery cost gives you the ability to price accurately no matter what you are delivering. With on-demand delivery up to a 100-mile radius, Roadie helps you leverage a network of 200,000 independent drivers to keep your employees in-house and even reduce your headcount needs.

Take advantage of crowdsourcing 

The retail landscape may be more competitive than ever, but there is room for everyone this peak season. By leveraging crowdsourced last-mile delivery, SMBs can tap into additional capacity when they need it to handle changing customer demand all year round.