‘Tis the season! The holidays are upon us and it’s time to make sure that you have all your ducks reindeer in a row with your order fulfillment system. Expectations of shoppers are high this time of year, and you don’t want to let your customers down with slow order fulfillment or shipping. We’ve put together a list of seven fulfillment tips that will help you make it through the holiday season smoothly. With these holiday selling tips you will keep both you and your customers happy.
#1 Keep Your Inventory Under Control
It’s always important to know exactly what you have in your inventory, but the holidays call for even more control than the rest of the year. There isn’t much that is more frustrating for holiday shoppers than a desired product being unavailable, or worse yet, a refund having to be issued due to an oversell.
If you don’t keep your products stocked during the holidays, customers won’t wait. They will simply shop with one of your competitors – and they may not be shy about sharing that information in reviews or feedback for all your other customers to see. If you follow these holiday selling tips you’ll be on the right track to success.
Don’t get caught with low or out of stock inventory; make sure that your online inventory management software is accurately updated and that you have enough product to satisfy your customers. But if there is a mistake made, communicate quickly with your customer and fix it fast.
#2 Scale Distribution Processes
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your normal distribution process will be sufficient for the holiday season. It’s likely that it won’t. Now is the time to step up your distribution methods to meet higher demands. Ideally, you will already have a distribution process that is scalable in place, but if you don’t, start working on it immediately.
Ecommerce veterans will tell you that you need to have a process in place that you can quickly adjust to accommodate up to 20 times greater than average order volume for the holidays. Learn more about what it means to make your business scalable.
#3 Sustain Strong Order Fulfillment
When customers shop online, they expect their purchases to arrive on time and be exactly as described. While you always want your customers to be pleased with your products and your service, the holidays call for you to strive for near-perfect accuracy on order fulfillment. It might not be easy, but online retailers who pull it off will earn trust from customers, and those customers will shop there again. And it’s those loyal, repeat customers that can make an online business successful.
#4 Monitor Fulfillment Centers
If you use 3PLs rather than fulfill the orders yourself, you don’t have much hands-on control. What happens at the warehouse (while still your responsibility as far as your customers are concerned) is mostly out of your hands. You need to pay close attention to how your fulfillment partners are performing by monitoring key metrics including throughput, quality and supplier performance.
This data can help you identify areas that you might need to address with your fulfillment centers and warehouses for improvement.
#5 Watch the Weather
The weather doesn’t always cooperate with holiday schedules, especially in areas with a lot of ice and snow. Stay updated on issues and locations where there might be an impact due to weather conditions. This will enable you to update your shoppers about any weather-related delays or longer shipping times. Remember, you must watch the areas that your products are shipping from (warehouses, etc.) and where they are shipping to.
#6 Expect Busy Weekends
If you have a staff that works for your online store, make sure that they know there will be some busy weekends coming up. Starting the weekend after Thanksgiving, most successful online stores will be slammed with sales. November and December are the busiest shopping months of the year.
If you’re prepared and you approach the season with gratitude for the extra business, you will make through the rush just fine (although likely very tired).
#7 Be Full of Joy and Good Cheer
The holiday season, however hectic it gets, should be a time of joy and happiness. Nothing ruins that feeling as quickly as an online business that you can’t keep up with, and you don’t want to start the new year being burned out and run down. That is why we put together these helpful holiday selling tips, we want you to succeed.
Plan ahead, gear up, and get extra help if you need it so that you have all the success you can during this busy season. By following these holiday selling tips you’ll see the difference in your bottom line, you’ll be glad you did!