By James Done, CEO, Tail
There’s been a great deal of hand-wringing and discussion over the last five years about the Brexit vote and how severe the consequences would be for the UK. Now, the results are starting to materialise and they don’t remotely resemble the sunlit uplands we were promised.
There’s a full-blown crisis when it comes to fulfillment, with supply chains under serious pressure — or completely broken down — and we’re still more than two months away from Christmas. Things are going to get worse before they get better.
The government might try to paint a different picture, blaming coronavirus rather than Brexit for the current situation, but there’s no hiding from the truth. To some extent, it doesn’t really matter what we blame the problems on — it’s what we do about it that counts. For retailers and the logistics industry prompt action is vital.
After the disappointment of Christmas 2020, another challenging festive season looms. If there aren’t presents under the tree come 25th December there are going to be a lot of unhappy customers, blaming the retailers and delivery agents that have let them down.
Retailers need to think about how they can mitigate this issue. Encouraging customers to get their online orders in early is a must — but rather than simply putting a fancy banner on their website, they have to provide some kind of incentive as well. Reward customers for planning ahead. For instance, brands could create offers involving significant discounts on selected items that only become valid in the new year for people ordering before the end of November. There are bonus points on offer here; not only will retailers avoid disappointing their customers, they give them a compelling reason to come back next year too.
What else can retailers do to take the heat off their fulfillment partners? Well, how about offering similar rewards to those who select certain delivery options, opting to pick up their packages from a local collection point rather than having it delivered to their door. The fewer ‘last mile’ journeys that are made, the less pressure there will be on the couriers.
Returns is another area where retailers can change their current model. Rather than providing pre-paid packaging with each item delivered in case the customer wants to return in, offer rewards to customers who are prepared to take unwanted items to a local pick-up point instead. This way, all unwanted items can be collected in one go, rather than requiring many separate journeys to collect each individual item.
Rewarding customers for making good choices
Other than retailers, there are many businesses in other categories that will also need to change their approach to avoid customer disappointment as the limitations of Brexit become more apparent. For example, having to pay roaming fees when travelling within Europe is going to upset a lot of loyal consumers, so what can the mobile networks do to mitigate this?
Travel agents might have a hard time convincing holidaymakers that it is worthwhile travelling into the EU with all the extra paperwork and queuing involved. How can they incentivise these customers to think again?
Once again, the answer lies in providing rewards. But this isn’t just a simple case of small discounts on future purchases — that’s the lazy option. These brands need to think hard about the kind of rewards that consumers will really value.
We need to understand that customers will be suffering some inconvenience, so the key is coming up with appropriate rewards that make up for the extra effort that they have to put in. People would rarely turn down the offer of money in their pocket — especially if they are being financially inconvenienced — but there are many ways businesses can reward their customers.
It’s fair to say that a large proportion of consumers have been surprised about some of the effects of Brexit. It’s far too late to point fingers or say that ‘we told you so’ — consumers and businesses are going to have to face up to the fact that some things will never be the same again. A great reset is required, with customers having to adjust their expectations and businesses up and down the country need to be prepared for this.
Making changes now — and encouraging consumers to change with us — won’t just help us overcome the challenges of Brexit, but other challenges too. Climate change can only be tackled by making great strides towards responsible consumption, and it’s only right that businesses should lead the way here. Resetting the way we do things is the only reasonable course of action here, and the businesses that best manage to mitigate the consequential inconveniences caused to the customer will be the ones that come out on top.
About the author: James Done is CEO at Tail, a mobile app that partners with banks to enable customers to earn cashback with participating merchants. James is responsible for leading the development, expansion, partnerships, and strategy of the business. He has previously held key positions at Cornercard UK, Thomas Cook Money, American Express, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Carnival Cruises and HMV.