Peak season staff squeeze: 44% of retail leaders fear they don’t have enough staff to cope with next ecommerce rush


44% of retail leaders say they don’t have enough staff to support the upcoming peak season, and need to staff up. That’s according to new data from Delivery Experience Platform Sorted, which found that retail customer service and operations managers believe they are understaffed for the upcoming ecommerce rush, with 52% fearing service levels will drop as a result.

The survey, consisting of 500 retail leaders across the UK and US, revealed that 50% of surveyees say the employee shortage will make the peak retail season a difficult period. When asked what the biggest concerns were, fulfilling orders was ranked as the top. As fears grow around a recession, this was closely followed by internal budget constraints threatening the customer experience. Drops in customer satisfaction, a rise in WISMO (where is my order) enquiries and coping with an influx of returns were also identified.

Unsurprisingly, three quarters of respondents expect WISMO to increase during peak season by more than 10%, while over half think it’ll increase by more than 20%.

The research also revealed that 37% of respondents think peak season will be busier than any other, perhaps down to the importance of discounts during rising costs. To cope with demand, 48% plan to tackle the customer contact centre rush by hiring more staff, while 47% plan to provide customers with more self-serve information on their orders.

Carmen Carey, CEO at Sorted commented: “Potential staffing shortages, with peak season just around the corner may present unwanted challenges for retailers this year. Peak is often a time when retailers will up spend on customer service staff, to deal with the influx of seasonal WISMO and WISMR enquiries, so added challenges around customer service and customer delivery experience will be worrying for many. Ensuring proactive measures are in place, including regular customer communications regarding delivery status, will provide a strong line of defence in preserving a positive delivery experience. At a time where inflation is soaring, competition is high and brand loyalty can be fragile if not actively managed, going the extra mile on customer engagement is key. With the right data and customer service tools, consumers can be kept happy while retailers reap the benefits of efficient and cost-effective operations. Preparation and investment now will help ensure a great peak experience for the future.”