Retailers need to take action now in order to avoid any disruption to deliveries during the Olympics, argues Paul Doble, group sales and marketing director at delivery firm, DX
Ever since London first won the bid for the 2012 Olympics, the media has been awash with stories about how the Games will boost Britain’s economy and the retail sector in particular. However, what many news outlets have overlooked is the potential for widespread and costly disruption during this period, especially when it comes to delivery and logistics.
In order to minimise any negative effects on businesses, DX, the largest independent mail, courier and logistics operator in the UK and Ireland, has issued a 10-point checklist to ensure that any of these problems can be reduced, and possibly even avoided.
- Arrange to receive overnight deliveries. Companies should make sure they have staff ready to receive deliveries between midnight and 6am, since many larger vehicles will only be allowed in the capital during these hours.
- Focus on the essentials. Stationery, toner cartridges and other important items should be ordered well in advance, to avoid running out if deliveries are cancelled unexpectedly. Try to amalgamate several days’ deliveries into one shipment, where possible.
- Understand delays will be the norm, not the exception. All of the biggest delivery operators have already announced a standard 24-hour delay to their usual shipping schedule. Try to find a company that offers a central ‘pick-up point’ for any deliveries, as this option may end up being quicker than waiting in for a delivery.
- Identify any routes that may be affected by restricted access. Vehicular access to certain areas will be restricted during the Games, so make sure employees, clients and visitors have this information before they travel. Additional delays are likely to be caused by various Vehicle Permit Checkpoints, as well.
- Consider the impact on ‘e-tail’ operations. Whether you are buying or selling online, you need to be aware the online purchases will also be subject to these same delays, so make sure all employees and customers are aware deliveries into these zones will be affected.
- Have contingency plans in place for delivery cancellations. It’s possible drivers will run out of their legal driving time (normally nine hours within any 24-hour period) due to heavy congested traffic, which means deliveries could end up being cancelled at short notice.
- Re-schedule any direct mail campaigns planned for this period. Royal Mail has already admitted delays will be unavoidable, so time-sensitive marketing materials may arrive too late to be usable. Consider delaying campaigns like these until after the Games.
- Be on the lookout for extra charges. A number of well-known courier companies have already announced surcharges and other extra fees for deliveries during the Olympics, so double-check any prices before committing to any one supplier.
- Encourage employees to work from home. If you have employees that are based outside the Olympic ‘hot zones’, then it may be better for them to work from home, rather than battle into the office. Not only that, but it may be easier for employees to receive deliveries at their out-of-town residential addresses, compared with city centre commercial premises.
- Find a firm that is using bike couriers to avoid the traffic. Bike couriers are likely to be a much faster alternative to big lorries for smaller deliveries, so check which delivery companies will be offering this service.
By anticipating and planning for challenges like these, businesses will be in a much stronger position to cope with any negative effects caused by the 2012 Olympics, and indeed any other large scale event that may be held in the future. Your most important priorities should be to assess any potential challenges as early as possible, create contingency plans to address them, and then continue to monitor and re-assess the situation as any issues arise.
Above all else, the 2012 Olympics are something to be celebrated, not feared. If in doubt, ask the advice of an experienced logistics company when planning your delivery strategy, as these firms will have planned for events like these for a very long time.