Don’t look now, but the holiday shipping season is right around the corner!
That means it’s crunch time for eCommerce companies looking to fulfill and ship orders. Even though its bound to be a chaotic and hectic time of the year for any online merchant, adopting the right fulfillment strategy can go a long way towards ensuring that your fulfillment process is smooth and efficient - even in the middle of the craziness of the busy holiday shipping season!
Without further adieu, here’s a quick look at 10 fulfillment tips so your business can have a happy holiday season!
1. Keep Your Inventory Well-Stocked
Your inventory should always be well-stocked - especially during the holidays!
However, all holiday season stock should be ordered and maintained well before peak shipping season. Stay in touch with your suppliers to know the exact delivery dates. Order in time to get the products before you start your seasonal promotions.
This is also very important for the warehouse operation optimization, resulting in better staffing of workers to complete assignments. Fast order fulfillment is also possible because of good inventory management. Also, try to estimate your previous number of orders in the same season and order stock accordingly.
2. Stock Up on Enough Shipping Supplies
In addition to preparing your inventory well before the busy holiday shipping season, always order enough shipping supplies well in advance!
The last thing your business needs is to run out of shipping supplies in the middle of the peak shipping season, so always stock up. There’s no harm in ordering what you’ll believe will be a surplus too, just to be sure you have enough on-hand.
3. Offer a Sensible and Seamless Returns Policy
All too often, online merchants are (understandably!) caught up in the business of the holiday shipping and fulfillment process and neglect to craft a sensible, seamless return policy for the inevitable rush of post-holiday returns.
This is a critical mistake. Instead, always implement a sensible returns policy well before the holiday season and communicate it effectively to your customers on your website as well as in your product pages. Offering prepaid return labels to your customers in all their orders is a great idea too!
4. Stay on Top of Your Customer Service
When it comes to handling the holiday shipping rush, customer service is key!
Having an FAQ section on your website and using chatbots are both great ideas. Your customer service representative should also have the proper training and information to handle every kind of query that comes their way.
This can be done through a centralized system for inventory management, tracking shipments and website. When these are integrated together, customer service issues will be able to be handled quickly and accurately.
5. Know the 2019 Holiday Shipping Deadlines
Knowing all the holiday shipping deadlines is also crucial for staying on top of your fulfillment process. Understanding them can help you better prepare your fulfillment strategy and plan in advance to make the best use of your time and resources.
Be sure to check out our 2019 Holiday Shipping Guide so that you know exactly what the 2019 holiday shipping deadlines are!
6. Outsource Your Fulfillment Process
The order fulfillment process, as any other online merchant will tell you, is time-consuming, expensive and requires a lot of energy and attention to detail from your staff. However, outsourcing the process to third-party professionals can help to ease this burden and let you focus on sales, marketing, onboarding temp workers for the holidays and the like.
For merchants looking into this, Amazon FBA is just one popular option to explore. Find out more about how to sell on Amazon FBA with our guide here!
7. Stay Ahead of the Marketing Game
Your marketing strategy should start way before the holiday season!
Start your promotions early and make your target audience aware of them via email newsletters, social media campaigns, blog posts and paid ads.
8. Prepare in Advance
Preparation - even beyond maintaining a well-stocked inventory - is the key to success when it comes to having a happy holiday shipping season.
Always do a stress test of your website in advance to make sure it can handle the surge of holiday orders. In general, also make sure your site runs smoothly and quickly, has an intuitive navigation structure and the checkout process works flawlessly.
It’s also a good idea to brief your staff of what’s expected of them ahead of the holidays and double check that your website has up-to-date and clear information regarding all of your shipping, delivery and returns policies.
9. Bring in Extra Helping Hands
Take a look at your historical data and current sales projections. When does your peak season really hit?
That’s the best time to consider bringing in temp workers to handle the holiday shipping rush. Yes, it’s an additional expense, but often worth the investment to have an extra set of helping hands to push orders out quickly!
10. Communicate Clearly with Customers, Suppliers and Couriers
Finally, communication with your customers, suppliers and couriers is crucial.
If a batch of customer orders is delayed due to inclement weather or backlogged shipping supplies, be sure to let the impacted customers know right away via email blasts, social media updates and blog posts. Likewise, always stay in close touch with your suppliers and couriers and coordinate issues like shipping deadlines, delivery times and inventory levels clearly so that there’s no miscommunication that could hamper your holiday shipping and fulfillment process.
The Holiday Shopping Season Can Be Cheerful with the Right Fulfillment Strategy!
Often, it seems like the holidays are merry for everyone except online merchants! Fortunately, having the right holiday shipping process and fulfillment strategy in place can help ensure that the peak fulfillment and shipping season goes smoothly and efficiently.
Easyship is the partner you need for the busy holiday fulfillment and shipping season. We partner with 20+ warehouses worldwide and offer dedicated fulfillment support to help your business ship orders globally.
Be sure to sign up for Easyship today to get the fulfillment assistance you need for a happy (and profitable!) holiday season.