If you work for a retailer or an ecommerce brand, it’s been a challenging couple of years so far. You have undoubtedly looked for ways to cut costs, make more money, and keep customers happy.

We’re lucky enough to work with some of the most exciting, innovative retailers in the industry, and we get front row seats when they’re undergoing operational shifts or process changes. These are the trailblazers and the trendsetters.

The Sorted team regularly sits down to review the themes and trends we’re seeing in our customers’ plans, which provides a unique list of things retailers are beginning to focus on, and that all retailers should be thinking about.

In these video clips, our customer success director, Paul Hill, runs through some of the key best-practice tips that are constantly evolving, so you can get a head-start on the competition.

Product-led delivery management

We all know that carrier managers are thinly stretched players in the logistics team. More and more retailers are recognising that managing delivery operations, especially the delivery technology that powers the ops, is a job in itself. This is why product managers are moving into place, to have an overarching view of the delivery tech stack.

Product-led delivery management.

Split shipments

Let’s talk about shipping-related dreams and fantasies for a moment. A customer order comes in through the website, and all the products you need to fulfil the order are only an arm’s length away. You can pick, pack, label and send them on their way.

Now, wake up, stop dreaming. In reality, products are spread around – maybe in deep storage, maybe they’re fast-moving, maybe they’re in opposite ends of the warehouse, maybe some are in boxes in store and some are hanging garments in the distribution centre. All the items for each shipment need to be consolidated, but you can’t always get them to the same packing station.

For larger retailers, especially in the “two man” delivery world, there’s sometimes a deal to be done. Paul has seen retailers work with carriers to create a model that works for everyone.

Split shipment optimisation.

Getting clever with date and time expressions

Without getting too philosophical, do we really understand time? “Date and time expressions sound super geeky,” says Paul. But we’re all delivery nerds here, right?

There’s really only one answer for time in delivery technology, under the bonnet, and that’s Coordinated Universal Time (or UTC, for short). This notes time markers, offset by local time differences, enabling worldwide translation of accurate time readings. For example, New York is UTC-05:00 and Beijing is UTC+08:00.

This is the way software understands it. Of course, clever carrier management software will take the UTC time in the back-end and show the user the local time in the front-end. And this becomes really important when shipping internationally, or when sending parcel traffic through different time zones. But one thing we all have in common is that there are 24 hours in a day, right?

Well, yes. We all have the same 24 hours in each day cycle, but what if this is an outdated way of thinking about the shipping operation? Paul says that many retailers are starting to think so …

Date and time innovation.

Consumer-driven demand for carriers

That old juggling act. How should your checkout be configured, and who decides the strategy for carrier services? Is it driven by the customer? Perhaps it’s led by commercial negotiations and carrier contracts? Or maybe the Board actually sets the direction?

In short, how do you get your carrier mix right? In this clip, Paul talks us through the best practice we’re seeing many retailers adopt.

Consumer-driven demand for carriers.

Shipping empty air

You may be protective of your budget at the moment, so you probably don’t like the idea of handing over money for nothing. This is something many of the biggest retailers are tackling at the moment, and the battleground is set on “shipping empty air”. Quite literally, paying to ship nothing.

In carrier networks, it’s all about cubic capacity. There’s a finite amount of space in each vehicle in the post-purchase journey. From the 45ft articulated lorry, to the intermediate bulk vehicle, to the smaller CND (collection and delivery) vehicles that do the rounds in the suburbs and the cities – as you move down the delivery chain, space becomes tight. If you’re shipping boxes or packages with lots of spare space, you’re taking up (and paying for) more of that cubic capacity than you actually need. This is inefficient for the retailer, the carrier and the environment.

So, how are clever retailers currently thinking about this “empty air” problem?

Empty air reduction.

Tech that keeps up

What is underpinning the best retail results? The answer is hard-working, easy to manage and innovative tech partnerships. In this clip,  Paul outlines the balance between IT project workload and innovation when it comes to delivery and shipping technology.

Retailers asking for control.

When thinking about best practices, trends and themes in retail planning, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed. Being inspired and forming a wish list of the perfect post-purchase can be productive but daunting. Paul helps break it down with a starting point. From the retailers yielding the best results, what is their “square one”?

Tech keeping up.

Bookmark this blog and get ready to return – you’re going to need it.

As you look to the remainder of the year, think about your peak preparations and have 2024 planning on the distant horizon, it can be difficult to know where to prioritise. Especially when things change so quickly, we’re here to support you and help you form your ideas and your strategies for shipping, delivery communications and tracking, and even returns.

Hopefully the ideas in this article have acted as inspiration. And we’d love to have a chat with you to see how you can take some of these ideas forward. Get in touch with us below.