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Logistics training and early shopping could make for a smoother Christmas

By: Elizabeth Smythe
21 February 2011

The public are being asked to do their online shopping earlier this year, to avoid repeating the delivery delays of last Christmas, according to a survey by an independent freight solutions firm.

The survey, cited on ifw-net.com, revealed that the first occurrence of heavy snow proved to be a logistical nightmare for courier companies; and the weather in turn prompted shoppers to make purchases from their PCs at the last minute, rather than venturing outside.

The unprecedented levels of online shopping were as much to blame for the backlog as the snow. The research found that an extra £6.8 million was spent in the Christmas period, an increase of 25 percent on 2009 - which accounted for an additional four million parcels a day. 

Companies could invest in logistics training ahead of this year's festive season, in a bid to help their workers manage any increase in demand more effectively.

The managing director behind the survey, Neil Coty, said: "People knew that Christmas would involve an increase in shipments. It appears that both carriers and their customers were simply not well enough prepared."

"Failure to fulfil customer orders and deliver parcels on time has significant cost, both in terms of business and damaged reputations. Yet subtle changes to the way carriers and clients operate at this time of year could mean big improvements," he added.

"Having carriers working extra days in the run up to Christmas, just as retailers commonly do, would relive some of the strain."

The white paper created from the research, entitled 'The Big Chill, Parcel Carriers, Customers and Christmas', made several recommendations.

These included suggesting consumers should shop early so that parcels can be shipped in time, improving communication between carriers and clients, and carriers introducing contingency plans for when emergencies arise.  

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