Streamline Order Fulfillment During Peak Seasons
The holiday season is that wonderful time of the year when people enjoy time with their family and friends, exchange gifts, and celebrate the festivities. It is also the busiest time for eCommerce brands, with more people doing online shopping in 2020 than in any year prior.
While the Retail trade group experienced healthy growth in holiday sales of 5.2% in 2020, online shopping surged by 25%-35% YoY as per Deloitte’s annual holiday retail forecast. Following the trend of online shopping in 2020, it’s safe to assume that online purchases are not going down any time soon. The key to success for the eCommerce brands is a highly competent order fulfillment system, as it is more hectic during the holiday season than any other time of the year. For many brands, Fourth Quarter sales volumes surpass volumes seen over the rest of the year.
Here are three major ways to efficiently fulfill your surge in orders during the holidays:
Effective Inventory Management
The first step towards successful order fulfillment during the holiday season is to plan your holiday inventory as accurately as possible based on previous volume trends, industry trends, and demand forecasting. Be thorough in categorizing, labeling, and positioning your product(s) to make it easy for fulfillment teams to pick, pack, and ship during the season.
You can set up tracking tools to monitor inventory across all locations, with daily notifications regarding stock levels during the holiday season. Setting up automated inventory management workflow will also contribute to handling other aspects of the business, such as customer service, fraud prevention, and merchandising.
With a steep rise in customer demand and a major increase in order volume during holidays, it can become challenging for many companies to fulfill orders according to SLAs, keep track of stockage levels, and other order fulfillment activities with their normal staffing.
One option is to hire a Third-Party Logistics [3PL] partner to take care of logistics while you focus on the overall customer experience. It can save time packing and shipping and gives you the freedom to scale up or down according to the needs of the business. You do not have to worry about warehousing or managing a distribution network as these get managed by professionals. The right 3PL partner will help grow your business by understanding your brand, the needs of your business and customers, and becoming part of your team.
Choose the Correct Shipping Options
Shipping can feel like a herculean task for smaller eCommerce brands or retailers because of the high standards set by the eCommerce giants such as Amazon. So, it becomes extremely important for you to select the correct shipping options.
Here are some tips to consider while choosing your shipping options:
- Use ground shipping as much as possible, versus air
- Position your inventory at multiple locations for easier and cost-effective fulfillment
- Plan carefully to see if you can offer free shipping using a minimum spend threshold, to increase order volume and basket size and reduce cart abandonment
- Speed up or upgrade your shipping as required
However, the most efficient shipping option is to hire the correct 3PL partner who will take care of all your logistics to include shipping.
The ideal 3PL partner for your brand should:
- Have several fulfillment centers so they can deliver to your customers from the nearest center thus saving time of delivery
- Be technologically equipped to align your stores with their fulfillment network
- Understand your brand so well that they can help you meet and exceed your customer expectations
- Have advanced inventory management tools coupled with a proficient data analytics system
- Collaborate professionally with other systems or partners you work with
- Commit an account manager to support your business
Once you tie-in with a 3PL partner, share with them any forecasting data you have and discuss with them their process of handling the holiday rush. It also helps to know their cut-offs for the holidays well in advance.
In sum, the holidays can be a challenging time for eCommerce brands. However, the surge in sales can be enjoyed by planning carefully well in advance. It requires a lot of precision and a professional level of execution for smooth order fulfillment. The best and safest bet for any eCommerce brand is to focus on their production process and let the 3PL experts do their work to ensure top-notch order fulfillment.