2022 Predictions: Shipping Experience Will be the Key to Retail and Ecommerce Success

The pandemic has brought about long-term changes for both business operations and consumer expectations, and 2021 taught us how far removed we are from ever returning to the old “normal.” Businesses continued to be put to the test over the last year, especially small business owners in retail and ecommerce. Relentless challenges including supply chain disruptions, weather disasters and a ship stuck in the Suez Canal slowed shipments and delivery of goods to consumers.

Brick-and-mortar stores, once eager to let shoppers back inside their four walls, were met with the start-and-stop of in-person shopping habits, local health restrictions and the pressure to maintain omnichannel availability for in-store and online shopping.

But it’s not just COVID-related challenges that are putting stress on the market. Business leaders have their eye on other factors like the acceleration of consumer spending and lingering economic challenges.

Shipping and delivery will continue to play a major role in how retailers, both small and large, perform and provide effective customer experiences. Here’s my take on what we can expect in the year ahead for these businesses, and what’s to come from the retail shipping and delivery landscape:


Retail resiliency requires supply chain and risk assessment.

Supply chain disruptions moved front and center for retailers in 2021, creating vulnerabilities for large and small business owners alike. As consumer spending continues to accelerate, retailers must examine how they can strengthen their supply chains to avoid issues such as low inventory and delayed deliveries.

One issue that was brought to light for retailers over the last two years is supplier diversity. Businesses that are overly reliant on one supplier or do not diversify across different geographies run the risk of losing their supply lines in the event of regional disruptions or shutdowns. For example, retailers whose sole supply chains were built on imports from China faced extraordinary disruption when the country shut down its economy as a result of the pandemic. While it may cost more for a business to spread out its suppliers, that cost protects them against the all-too-real possibility of an entire country or economy shutting down.

Retailers in 2022 will need to take a proactive approach to limiting supply chain risk and reexamine their continuity plans to improve supply chain resiliency. We’ll see more retailers taking action to diversify their supplier base to avoid concentrating their suppliers within single countries or regions, so as to not slow down delivery times and overall operations and to allow for redundancies.

Trusted partners will help meet the moment of an ecommerce Boom.

COVID-19 spurred immense growth within retail and ecommerce marketplaces, as shoppers used delivery to navigate COVID risks. While the risks are slowly abating, the acceleration will continue in the future but at a slightly slower pace. In 2022, small- and medium-sized retailers will need to closely consider their ecommerce partnerships. While many SMBs have seen the benefits of selling via third-party platforms, some have also experienced challenges such as intense price competition and reliance on platform companies. Identifying ecommerce platforms that help them deliver excellent customer experiences and don’t negatively affect their marketplace power can help position retailers for success.

The gig economy will make same-day delivery a reality for all.

Even before the pandemic, more and more consumers showed an interest in two-day and same-day retail delivery, spurring a flurry of last-mile delivery options to make this a reality. In 2022, the same-day delivery interest will continue, with more carriers exploring shared driver and gig economy options to make this a reality. As carriers explore and test these new options, transparency and communication among carriers, customers and retail business owners will be essential to its long-term success.

Consumer-driven deliveries will become the standard.

Retail and ecommerce acceleration has resulted in tens of billions of packages hitting the road. Unfortunately, this has also created new opportunities for package theft. The pandemic put a focus on the gray areas in coverage and liability between retailers or carriers when a delivery was lost or stolen, making many explore new options for secure delivery.

In 2022 we are going to see a rise in alternate secure delivery options such as delivery lockers and designated carrier-access points. Think of it like a resurgence of the P.O. box for the digital retail age. We will see more opportunities for consumers to select delivery windows and package lockers provided by carriers. Other companies will enter the marketplace, offering solutions such as secure access to mailbox/gate codes or even access to an individual vehicle’s trunk through various technology company offerings. By offering consumers more choices in their delivery options, we can help curb home delivery losses, for all participants in the space.

As we look ahead to 2022, ecommerce and retail business owners will have mountains of new opportunities in a landscape that’s been forever changed. As retailers are inspired to adapt and remain flexible, they should seek trusted partners, create strategic plans to remain agile amid supply chain disruption and embrace the ways digital technologies are transforming shipping. Retail leaders who plan ahead and tap into emerging trends will have much better success meeting their business goals and significantly improving customer experience and loyalty.

Mark Robinson is President of UPS Capital. He joined the company during its early stages in 1999. Throughout his tenure, Robinson served in sales, product marketing and operations. As UPS Capital grew from a startup business to a global corporation with over 600 employees operating in 22 countries, Robinson advanced into senior leadership insurance and supply chain finance roles. Following his experience as Senior Managing Director of Supply Chain Finance and SVP of Global Operations, he was appointed President of UPS Capital in September of 2016.

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