Don’t let the Christmas rush crush your mailroom
There is an old saying that ‘Christmas comes earlier every year’, and you’ve no doubt already seen some form of Christmas related sales or promotions in the shops or online. Thanks to ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday’ deals, this saying is increasingly becoming a reality
If last year is anything to go by, 2018 will be another bumper year for sales. The amount spent on UK online retail sites on Black Friday 2017 was up +11.7% to £1.39bn, according to data from IMRG and, according to the British Retail Consortium, online sales grew by 7.6% in December.
Of course, fulfilment of many of these transactions puts a burden on businesses as employees increasingly have their purchases delivered to their place of work – some estimates predict that nearly two thirds of parcel deliveries in the workplace are personal, and some firms have deemed it necessary to implement additional controls and restrictions during the festive period in order to help ease the strain.
What’s more, free delivery offers make choosing online shopping over a visit to the busy high-street shops even more appealing. This year it’s been predicted that more than half of online orders during this time will include free shipping.
Dealing with all these extra parcels and packages puts pressure on centralised mailrooms that have to manually sort and process incoming items. The complexity is increased when organisations span across multiple physical locations, meaning that post must be managed throughout internal transit, while there is also an increased risk of packages going missing or becoming delayed.
Thankfully, there are two important ways for organisations to cope with the additional demands that the Christmas rush puts on mailrooms.
Mail and Package Tracking Systems
A system that automatically scans, tracks and records the exact position of a parcel within a business can also be used to notify the final recipient via automated email messages. This removes the need for manual, time consuming categorisation, with systems able to allocate where items need to be and how to get them there. Providing the recipient with real-time updates is very effective at ensuring that they are around to sign for packages if required. As those signatures are collected electronically with handheld scanners, it completes a digital chain that ensures the entire process is easily referenceable if needed.
Information including time, date and serial number are all recorded and stored in a central database, and this data can be very important in enabling businesses to easily analyse their processes, identifying where bottle-necks exist and how best to remove them.
Intelligent Parcel Lockers
Parcel lockers are an ideal solution for alleviating strain on postal departments. Automated, electronic locker systems can enable businesses to securely store and distribute large volumes of inbound parcels and automatically inform recipients of their arrival. Lockers mitigate the requirements for internal post distribution and logistics, as recipients can pick up parcels at a centralised location at convenient times, massively reducing disruption throughout the working day.
As with mail and package tracking systems, parcel lockers can also provide valuable data, including delivery and pickup status and locker occupancy rate, providing insights that can be leveraged to improve business processes.
One final issue that is exacerbated by increasing volumes of mail, is that of security risks. There have been several high-profile incidents in recent weeks, both in the UK and USA, where packages containing powder have been received at government organisations. Whenever the number of packages received by an organisation increases, it is important to apply the same security checks, regardless of whether this introduces delays in deliveries. This means that, should your organisation expect to receive items that could threaten employee safety, security scanning equipment that also mitigates disruption is an essential consideration.
With the correct systems in place, Christmas needn’t be a cause for concern over mailroom strain and capacity. One final positive thought is that the increased traffic could even draw attention to inefficiencies that might go unnoticed under normal conditions.
If you’d like to find out more about how Neopost can help you tackle the demands that Christmas places on your postal processes, click here to find out about mail and package tracking, and here for more details on intelligent parcel lockers.
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