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Ten tips for avoiding Olympics delivery disruption

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The London 2012 Olympic Games have potential for “widespread and costly disruption” over the coming months, especially when it comes to deliveries, says logistics provider DX.

The independent mail, courier and logistics operator has issued a 10-point checklist for retailers.

“By anticipating and planning for challenges like these, businesses will be in a much stronger position to cope with any negative effects caused by the 2012 Olympics, and indeed any other large scale event that may be held in the future,” said Paul Doble, group sales and marketing director at DX. “The most important priorities should be to assess any potential challenges as early as possible, create contingency plans to address them, and then continue to monitor and re-assess the situation as any issues arise.”

Arrange to receive overnight deliveries. Companies should make sure that they have staff ready to receive deliveries between midnight and 6am, since many larger vehicles will only be allowed in the capital during these hours.

Focus on the essentials.

Stationery, toner cartridges and other important items should be ordered well in advance, to avoid running out if deliveries are cancelled unexpectedly. Try to amalgamate several days’ deliveries into one shipment, where possible.

Understand that delays will be the norm, not the exception.

All of the biggest delivery operators have already announced a standard 24-hour delay to their usual shipping schedule. Try to find a company that offers a central ‘pick-up point’ for any deliveries, as this option may end up being quicker than waiting in for a delivery.

Identify any routes that may be affected by restricted access. Vehicular access to certain areas will be restricted during the games, so make sure that employees, clients and visitors have this information before they travel. Additional delays are likely to be caused by various vehicle permit checkpoints, as well.

Consider the impact on e-tail operations. Whether you are buying or selling online, you need to be aware the online purchases will also be subject to these same delays, so make sure that all employees and customers are aware that deliveries into these zones will be affected.

Have contingency plans in place for delivery cancellations. It’s possible that drivers will run out of their legal driving time (normally nine hours within any 24-hour period) due to heavy congested traffic, which means that deliveries could end up being cancelled at short notice.

Re-schedule any direct mail campaigns planned for this period. Royal Mail has already admitted that delays will be unavoidable, so time-sensitive marketing materials may arrive too late to be usable. Consider delaying campaigns like these until after the games.

Be on the lookout for extra charges. A number of well-known courier companies have already announced surcharges and other extra fees for deliveries during the Olympics, so double-check any prices before committing to any one supplier.

Encourage employees to work from home. If you have employees that are based outside the Olympic ‘hot zones’, then it may be better for them to work from home, rather than battle into the office. Not only that, but it may be easier for employees to receive deliveries at their out-of-town residential addresses, compared with city centre commercial premises.

Find a firm that is using bike couriers to avoid the traffic. Bike couriers are likely to be a much faster alternative to big lorries for smaller deliveries, so check which delivery companies will be offering this service.

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