That time, of course, is the almost annual launch of Apple's latest iPhone. People around the world go into a frenzy to get their hands on one. The ubiquitous smartphone gets pre-ordered in the millions, with countless devices needing to be shipped to both consumer and retail end-points in just a few days.
"An iPhone launch requires extensive planning for logistics providers, which is made difficult by the fact that Apple likes to be secretive about launch dates," says Margaret White, Key Account Executive looking after telecommunications clients at StarTrack.
"You need to be on your game, as it's always a much-anticipated release and consumers want their deliveries to arrive on-time. You've got to plan everything – from aircraft uplift, to road transport and your last mile delivery fleet – down to a tee," says White.
"Then, when each handset is hand-delivered to consumers, it's the delivery company's job to activate the handset via a data feed. There'd be nothing worse than opening your brand-new iPhone and discovering that it hasn't been activated so you can't use it. Every element of the system needs to work seamlessly."
Whether it's an iPhone or another product, all shipped items in the telco industry require a watertight supply chain and delivery strategy in place. The challenges vary, but can generally be grouped into four key areas: stock levels, returns, fraud and speed of delivery.
There can be high turnover of phone handsets and other products at telco retail stores. These retailers want the right products in store, and are very mindful of stock replenishment time frames. StarTrack helps retailers manage their stock levels with detailed reporting, daily and weekly updates, and a live feed.
With launches like the iPhone, some over-eager consumers place orders with multiple websites to ensure they'll get at least one device. So there's inevitably a lot of returns. Just like in other industries, StarTrack assists with this process.
Unfortunately, fraudsters exist. StarTrack can help by actioning requests. It's all about working with telcos to minimise the impact of fraud on the industry.
Consumers can be impatient, particularly when they're waiting for a new phone to replace a broken one, or a new model to replace their old. StarTrack works with telcos to innovate when it comes to delivery; and of course offers a wide range of delivery options including carding to Post Offices to give consumers more convenience.
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