Royal Mail Strikes: What eCommerce  businesses can do

Royal Mail strikes: What eCommerce businesses can do


Written by David Renwick

Postal strike – the last words any eCommerce retailer (or business owner for that matter) wants to hear in the leadup to the busiest shopping period of the year.

However, that’s exactly what’s happening this year as Royal Mail workers who are members of the Communication Workers Union go on strike to protest pay and working conditions.

Read on to learn more about these strikes and what you can do as a business to ensure you get through the busy season.

Red post box on street

Recap: The Royal Mail strikes

So, when are the Royal Mail strikes taking place? December 23 and December 24. Union member postal workers also went on strike on December 9, 11, 14 and 15 this year.

This isn’t the first time Communication Workers Union members have gone on strike, either. There was another series of strikes that took place between 2007 and 2017.

There’s no pattern with strikes or way to predict them with any sort of accuracy. Basically, they’re bound to happen. But as a business owner, you don’t have to leave the success of your business up to chance – there are strategies you can put in place to ensure your operations continue to run smoothly even when one of your couriers is out of action.

But first, let’s look at some of the ways a postal strike affects retailers or eCommerce business.

How do postal strikes affect retail businesses?

Mainly, postal worker strikes mean disruption. With a large majority of the workforce out of the picture, packages and mail – regardless of type – no longer get delivered or take significantly longer. In turn, this means delays, unhappy customers and lost sales.

There are also the logistical headaches to consider. As the same businesses are struggling to get orders out to their customers, they may also find problems with getting products delivered to their warehouses. Postal strikes can impact the entire length of the supply chain.

As you can probably guess, postal strikes typically impact smaller businesses the most. When starting out, many small retailers rely on one courier to get their orders out to customers, meaning any delays can be quite severe.

The solution is simple. All businesses should implement multi-courier strategies in order to avoid the issues with postal strikes. Let’s explore this in more detail.

The solution: A robust multi-courier strategy

A multi-courier strategy is pretty much what it sounds like: Using a combination of couriers – like Royal Mail, Evri, Uber and DHL – so you can make the best decision for your business based on the requirements of each order. For example, you might use Royal Mail for your UK-wide deliveries, Uber for deliveries within city centres and DHL for your global orders.

A multi-courier strategy is a smart and safe way to run your shipping operations. You get the security of being able to switch orders to another courier in the event of a postal strike or other disruption, and you can save money by choosing the best couriers for each job.

We’ve got a full blog you can read here where we break down the benefits of multi-courier strategies and look at the best ways to implement them.

How to implement a multi-courier strategy

Automated shipping platforms are the easiest way to implement multi-courier strategies, as these platforms already feature integrations with the most popular couriers. This means you can get started in a few easy steps:

  1. Sign up for an account with a shipping platform (like Starshipit).
  2. Link your courier accounts and eCommerce platforms (in a matter of minutes).
  3. Start printing labels and shipping orders!

These platforms also come with a number of other useful tools. For example, with Starshipit, you can manage your entire shipping and fulfilment process from one dashboard. This means you no longer need to jump between different courier portals, cut and paste tracking numbers or set up customer notifications from scratch. You can also use shipping rules to assign couriers to orders based on conditions you set.

Merchant Fulfilment

One of our customers, Bulkpantry, uses Starshipit to compare shipping rates from their different couriers, and the rules engine to auto-assign couriers to relevant orders based on things like location and type of product.

Here’s what they had to say:

“Starshipit has helped us choose the most reliable and cost-effective courier every time. Integration with Starshipit means the customer’s address and contact details are pre-filled so it’s incredibly easy to create a shipping label for your customers!” – Alex Robinsion, Bulkpantry. Read the full case study here.

Other ways to avoid disruptions

A multi-courier strategy should be your first option when thinking of ways to keep your shipping operations safe, but what else should you do? Here’s a list of some of the things we think retailers should focus on:

  • Monitor the stability and reliability of your couriers: Keep up to date with how your couriers are performing. Most couriers publish their reliability statistics and disruptions on their websites.
  • Check new couriers before bringing them on: Do your research to learn how new couriers perform before you start using them. What’s their reputation like? Their coverage in your area?
  • Communicate with your customers: Keep your customers in the loop about any shipping delays or disruptions and give them options like the ability to cancel or reschedule if required.

Wrap up

The postal strikes are going to cause major disruption for retailers, their customers and other businesses all throughout the country when they hit.

To ensure you’re able to easily make it through strikes as well as other disruptions, consider implementing an automated shipping platform and a multi-courier strategy. You’ll have a safety net for your business, be able to keep customers happy and manage your shipping costs. Try Starshipit for free for 30 days (no credit card required) or book a demo with one of our helpful team members.

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David Renwick

David Renwick

David is Starshipit's Product Marketing Lead. When he's not whipping up a fresh new product update or chatting to customers for an exciting case study, you'll typically find him scoping out coffee spots and talking about what's on at the movies. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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