With the holiday shopping season only a few months away, it’s time to ready the supply chain for what might be the highest peak in direct-to-consumer delivery the retail world has ever seen. Research from Forrester predicts that ecommerce sales will rise to $780 billion this year, which exceeds earlier estimates by 40%.

As sales rise, so do consumer expectations. Before last year’s holiday rush, a Voxware survey found that 86% of consumers have higher expectations for correct and on-time delivery of items for purchases made online or over the phone during the holiday season than they do at other times of the year. Last year’s survey also found that 16% of respondents were likely to quit shopping with a brand altogether after just a single late or incorrect order.

So what can retailers do to make sure customers receive their gifts in time? Optimizing the supply chain is a perfect place to begin. Promises of next-day delivery, right up until Christmas Eve, become the responsibility for those in the supply chain to execute and to deliver the correct item on-time.

Delivering an exceptional customer experience doesn’t happen by accident—it’s the result of strategic planning and results-driven technology deployment. Here are 3 key results to aim for:

  1. Increase picking speed by 30%: With last minute orders and high expectations for on-time delivery, fulfilling orders quickly is absolutely critical.  Implementing a voice-directed picking solution is one of the best ways to improve overall efficiency; Gartner reports that most companies experience a 30% improvement in efficiency and Voxware’s own customers report similarly high improvements after deploying voice.
  2. Make data-driven decisions in seconds: Before the rise of ecommerce, distribution centers could afford to make decisions over the course of days. Now, DC managers and supervisors need to allocate inventory, fulfill an order, load and ship in a matter of hours in order to get it to the customer in time for next day delivery. Hiccups like nasty weather or traffic delays can’t be dealt with tomorrow—they must be accounted for now. Predictive analytics tools like Intellestra tie the supply chain together.
  3. Drive Fast Time-to-Benefit with the Cloud: The holiday season is right around the corner so time-consuming buildouts are impractical and undesirable.  However, with Cloud-based solutions, companies can start experiencing the full benefits of faster picking, loading and shipping, along with powerful data, within days.

The holiday season is bearing down upon us—and the time to implement the systems that will make it a successful one is now.