Brexit, COVID and an ongoing supply chain crisis: How retailers can navigate the challenge of the Christmas peak 2021

Last year, Brexit uncertainty and coronavirus cast a higher degree of uncertainty over peak season than ever before.


Last year, Brexit uncertainty and coronavirus cast a higher degree of uncertainty over peak season than ever before. This year, the combination of these events has really come to the fore. Retail bosses have been warning for some time now that the industry faces a shortfall of 90,000 lorry drivers, as this dual perfect storm continues to strange supply chains. This, alongside a potential labour shortage in high street workers, could spell disaster for retailers and brands trying to keep up with demand and deliver goods in time for Christmas.

Many will need to have more than one contingency plan if they are to overcome these challenges and maintain resilience during peak. Multi-node fulfilment operations and temporary pop-up, or micro-fulfilment centres across various locations (including in-store) are just a couple of solution considerations. These infrastructures enable brands to spread inventory and avoid further delays further down the line. Shortening the supply chain can vastly reduce the transit time for goods, removing much of the uncertainty involved in last-mile delivery, minimising shipping delays and avoiding increased transportation costs ‘ at a time when this is needed more than ever, looking at the news.

Keeping up-to-date real-time inventory records will be crucial to staying one step ahead. Last year, a lack of visibility and supply issues meant 53% of retailers felt they had difficulty locating available stock during peak. To overcome this, an advanced Distributed Order Management (DOM) system will ensure your order management system (OMS) can divert orders to the appropriate inventory pool ‘ depending on several factors ‘ including delivery address and product type. Regular comparisons of in-store data with digital channel information will have a significant impact on your ability to keep orders moving to meet consumer demand.

It’s safe to say we are in for yet another tough peak season ‘ one that will push retailers to the very limit as they try to keep up with customer demand against a backdrop of challenges. We all know that famous saying, ‘Fail to prepare, prepare to…’ but this couldn’t be more accurate right now. In 2020, just 50% of retail businesses felt they were adequately prepared for the recent peak season, and this resulted in over one-in-six (17%) missing out on critical sales. 

Retailers must act now to not only navigate peak waves, but to ensure success in what has been a turbulent year for the industry. Those who come out on top during the season ‘ and this peak in particular ‘ can expect a fruitful 2022.

Christophe Pecoraro
Christophe Pecoraro

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