Inclusive lingerie retailer Big Girls Don't Cry Anymore (BGDCA) is encouraging consumers to be patient with retailers this Christmas, due to the ongoing impacts from COVID-19.
With Australia Post anticipating that this holiday shopping season will be a $4 billion eCommerce event, BGDCA founder Karen Edbrooke is asking consumers to remain calm and patient when it comes to their digital orders.
"Please be kind to retailers this Christmas," she said.
"We are trying our hardest and we are going to need your help to get through this extraordinary festive season.
"The last eight months has been difficult for everyone, especially retailers.
"Because a lot of our customers have been avoiding going to the shops, they have increased the number of items they are buying online. Our online sales have increased by over 50% since March this year," she said.
Edbrooke adds that ongoing disruption in international freight transportation has delayed orders, making it challenging to buy and plan stock.
"Like many businesses, we have had to increase staffing levels to cope with increased online demand.
"We have also had to increase the volume of stock we are ordering.
"We have had to scale up really fast to meet demand and continue to provide high levels of service. We have done a great job, but like a lot of retailers, we are faced with challenges.
"We source our stock from both Australia and brands all over the world. Stock coming from overseas would normally arrive by plane and only take a few days.
"Now, because there are not as many planes in the air and the cost of air freight has gone through the roof, most of our stock is now coming into Australia by ship. This is taking months," she said.
Edbrooke continued and said that because retailers have to be vigilant about COVID safety, predicted staffing arrangements can also be disrupted, meaning the business has to operate with less staff, impacting fulfilment.
"If staff have the slightest sniffle, they are not allowed to come into work.
"When you schedule to have a certain number of staff in place and only a portion are able to turn up to work due to COVID risk management, this affects the number of people available to process orders.
"This impacts our ability to process and ship items to our valued customers in a timely manner. We have to keep everyone safe," she said.
These delays may then have a knock-on effect, with some consumers expressing their frustration by leaving negative reviews, which can further add pressure to retailers, Edbrooke adds.
"A lot of retailers are being badly affected by online reviews from angry customers.
"It is so upsetting and stressful to see negative reviews especially when the circumstances are out of your control.
"A lot of business owners I speak with are really stressed and upset.
"When we order stock we are given expected arrival dates from our suppliers.
"Unfortunately at the moment, we are encountering delays on arrivals due to congestion at sea.
"At Big Girls we are trying to avoid delays by ordering greater amounts of stock at once but this is harder to carry financially," she said.
Edbrooke said that another way customers can express their concerns is to contact the retailer directly to garner information on estimated arrival times.
"We are trying as hard as we can to get your items to you as quickly as possible.
"Rather than voice your frustration at the retailer in the form of a negative review or angry comment, ask them whether they can provide you with an ETA on delivery or whether there are other options available to you to secure the item you need.
"Please hold off making a negative review. I know it can be frustrating but many of these issues are out of our control.
"In every retail business there are staff working hard, doing their best to make customers happy.
"This year, let’s give our retailers and their staff some slack. We are all in this together," she said.