With the first day of fall yesterday, the holiday seasons’ just around the corner. More customers are shopping online than ever before and e-commerce retailers need to prepare for their peak season. Even for brick and mortar companies, shipping is a big part of whether you’ll be successful during the busiest time of the year, or fail in the eyes of your customers.To handle increased volume, plan ahead now!
Follow these simple tips to maximize your shipping just in time for the holidays.
- Forecast demand early - Predicating the peak-season demand as closely as you can is crucial. One way is to track fast movers during promotions earlier in the year and dovetail that with prior experience. Track early orders and results of promotions and digital advertising as an early indication of how things might go.
- Plan your discounts and specials - Depending on what specials or discounts you’re offering, planning ahead will help you prepare order fulfillment. Market data tells us that prior and during thanksgiving, customers are more geared towards buying for themselves to take advantage of the offers. Try to move purchasing by your loyal customers further ahead through promotions. To help order fulfillment, try splitting up promotions geographically. Doing so will help you avoid overstressing your web servers, fulfillment, and the transportation processes.
- Think about your shipping strategy - You want to give customers full transparency to the shipping specifics. Are you charging for shipping, setting cart thresholds, or offering free shipping? Also, keep them in the loop by letting them know the specific delivery day not just the number of days. Research shows a vast majority of customers prefer a specific date.
- Prepare your supply chain - Preparing your supply chain for the holiday season is the most important step. It is crucial to communicate your marketing and promotion plans to prepare your supply chain. The last thing you want is to be out of stock at the time you need it most. Make sure your inventory is staged where is needs to be. Look at using warehouses or distribution centers where product can get to your customers quickly. Being flexible and fast on your feet will help prepare you for rush orders.
Planning ahead for the holiday season will help operations run smoothly. Look into partnering with a 3PL to help optimize your supply chain. They have the resources along with the best practices to manage inventory levels throughout your supply chain to ensure order fulfillment. Most 3PL’s have the technology for network planning, warehouse management, and inventory planning. Although not all 3PL service providers have the expertise or technology, one that does can prove to be a big asset for handling your business this holiday season. A 3PL will also have options in both service and cost to meet the flexibility needed during your busiest shipping days.
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Are you looking to optimize your supply chain? Visit www.onestopshipping.com for an online quote or let GTS build you a custom solution.