SUMMARY: A brand’s job is to anticipate changes in demand and consumer behavior and adequately prepare to respond to these changes. Brands that fail to anticipate changes in demand and consumer shopping will pay a huge price in lost business.
It started with a text from Fed Ex telling me my package would be delivered Saturday between 9:20 and 1:20. When the package never showed up, the tracking number indicated that Fed Ex did not know when the package would be delivered. Then I received this response from Fed-Ex:
We apologize for the delay with your shipment. We are experiencing delays due to higher volumes than normal which have caused a backlog, including the ability to pick up and deliver in certain cities. This has prevented us from completing the delivery as expected. I am unable to provide you an estimate of when your shipment will be delivered at this time. If you do not receive your shipment by 09/10/2021, I would recommend you contact your sender to file a claim with FedEx and have them follow their replacement or refunding package procedures.
In other words, “we didn’t anticipate the increased volume in packages, and our logistics system can’t tell us where your package is or when it will be delivered.
In failing, Fed-Ex broke a rule of basic marketing; never promise and then fail to deliver.
Across the online world, people are complaining more and more about brands that are failing to deliver. It’s not uncommon to order something and be told the item isn’t in stock instead of informing customers upfront.
The problem is not unique to brands either. Finding and hiring a contractor is becoming harder and harder. When I needed a cabinet moved from the garage, I narrowed the choices down to three people. Two of them never got back to me because they said: “they were busy.”
Undoubtedly, the economy and consumer behavior is on a yo-yo trend, but isn’t it the job of brands and services to anticipate these trends? It’s not like they didn’t have any warnings. Airlines, short of employees, recently had to cancel flights; now, travelers are canceling trips because of COVID, and they are furloughing their employees again.
When someone needs a contractor, they don’t want to hear how booked up they are, and they don’t want to be overcharged because they were lucky to hire a decent contractor. Fed-Ex used to have a slogan that went something like “when it absolutely, positively needs to be there.” Still, with the increased volume, they can let delivery dates slide even if customers rearranged schedules to be home for a delivery.
With all the damn meetings that most companies subject employees to, why isn’t there more emphasis on scenario planning? The lead time to order a new bike can extend more than a year because factories in Asia are idle, but what about shifting production to the US or carrying more inventory of components?
Consumers don’t want excuses; they want results. I am leading a project to ship 1786 packages for a client to their salespeople. Under no circumstances am I going to use Fed-Ex because the packages need to arrive at everyones’ location on the same day. In fact, I will never use Fed-Ex again. True, I’m just one person, but how many more people are saying the same thing?