11 ECommerce Fulfillment Tips for the Holiday Shopping Season
Like it or not, the holiday shopping season arrives earlier and earlier each year and no one feels its effects more than online retailers. Ecommerce sales are expected to rise an additional 15.1 percent over last year, with a projected $61.8 billion spent in November and December alone. The time is now to prepare for the holiday rush and keep your brand on shoppers’ “nice list.” Here are 11 tips to help get you through the season.
1. Optimize Your Warehouse Operations
Reconfigure your warehouse layout and picking locations to improve peak volume throughput. Position top sellers in the most efficient locations to enhance product pick time and consider creating a temporary work station for customization such as gift wrapping. A few easy modifications will help reduce costs and ensure order turn time is achieved.
2. Keep Close With Suppliers
Brands should keep frequent contact with their suppliers to understand when their shipments will arrive. This allows for more efficient staffing of workers to unload and stock inventory. When timelines and expectations of suppliers are managed properly it alleviates stocking delays and the negative impact of product unavailability during the holiday rush.
3. Offer Multiple Delivery Options
Give consumers the flexibility to choose where their purchases are sent. Fulfillment providers should work closely with retailers and manufacturers to offer a variety of shipping and delivery options including ship from store and ship to store in addition to traditional home delivery. Giving consumers a range of choices translates into a better brand experience and frequent repeat buyers.
4. Provide Customization Services
Separate yourself from other retailers by offering customized services that give consumers the opportunity to put their individual spin on your product. Value-added services such as gift wrapping and unique kitting assortments are just a couple ways to give your brand an edge over the competition.
5. Deliver A Solid Returns Program
Reverse logistics are often an afterthought for many e-retailers, but it may be just as important as the on-time delivery of your product. Be sure to have your returns policy clearly stated on your website and offer consumers a simple product returns process. Once the items are back in the fulfillment center, returned products should go through a detailed process of inspection, re-allocation and quick shipment of new product, when required.
- Efficiency and accuracy are more critical than ever as consumer expectations increase along with their online shopping.
- Bowen Smith, SVP, Sales & Marketing, PFC
6. Make Customer Service a Top Priority
Customer service is the cornerstone of a solid ecommerce program, and is especially important during the holiday season as consumers seek help finding the perfect gift for their loved ones. In addition to staffing a highly-trained contact center, be sure to offer a robust online FAQ section to allow consumers to self-service and help reduce your call volume.
8. Keep the Consumer Informed
The holidays can be stressful, which is compounded when shoppers are left in the dark regarding their purchases. Be sure to send several emails or mobile messages including order confirmation, tracking updates and delivery status. Allow consumers the ability to track their orders online to avoid unnecessary calls to your contact center.
9. Provide a Multi-Channel Experience
Consumers are no longer tied to their computer when it comes to making holiday purchases. Mobile commerce will account for 16 percent of all online sales this year with tablet devices leading m-commerce sales at 62.5 percent. Shoppers use mobile technology not only to buy things, but also to comparison shop between online retailers and traditional brick and mortar stores. Make sure your site is mobile ready so shoppers can find you when making their holiday buying decisions.
10. Prepare for Rush Orders
Consumers now expect e-retailers to have the ability to deliver orders closer and closer to the holiday. They are also looking for brands to change or add orders midway through the fulfillment process. Having the scalability and flexibility to adapt quickly allows you to meet consumer demand with fewer errors and faster turn times.
11. Capture Data and Be Even Better Next Year
Online retailers who don’t learn from past mistakes are doomed to repeat them. Be sure to track campaign performance throughout to holiday season to gain insight into marketing trends, manufacturing issues and areas for process improvement.
According to the National Retail Federation, the holiday shopping season can comprise up to 40 percent of annual sales for retailers. With so much at stake, it’s critical that e-retailers develop and execute solid fulfillment strategies that will provide the best possible consumer experience, while ensuring a fruitful holiday for your brand.
About Promotion FulFillment Center
At PFC, our clients’ success is our number one priority. Since 1974, PFC has delivered outstanding results, with turnkey solutions in fulfillment, e-commerce, rebates, sweepstakes, coupons and contact center – all backed by leading technology. Brands who partner with PFC have historically achieved considerable cost savings in excess of 35 percent and have significantly improved their turn times. PFC allows clients to focus on their big picture business goals, while skillfully managing all the details. For more information call (800) 493-7063 or contact us.
Sources: Internet Retailer, Voxware, Inc., eMarketer, US Department of Commerce