It’s no secret that the holiday season is a critically important time for online sales.
In fact, many ecommerce companies can attain as much as 30 percent of their annual sales during the holiday season! And while increased sales are great, a spike in sales also bring with them increased demands to deliver holiday orders in the most timely and cost-effective manners.
Online merchants must figure out how to manage a wide array of challenges, including increased inventory, labor, costs, payment processing, freight, logistics, and most notably, the increased pressures of delivering on customer expectations for low cost/free shipping.
That means there is a great deal to accomplish and a limited window of time remaining to put solutions in place. With consumers shopping for the holidays as early as August, now is the time to put in place a winning holiday strategy.
Focusing on your fulfillment strategy now, during the slower summer season, can streamline holiday operations and simplify your workload by allowing you to boost holiday sales and increase customer satisfaction.
Here are 3 important ways that outsourcing fulfillment to the right partner can boost holiday sales for your business:
1. Inventory Management
Increased levels of inventory are required in order to meet increased demand. However, many retailers find themselves with a fixed storage space that may not allow for scaling the business during these peak times. By outsourcing fulfillment to a multi-house fulfillment provider, you can attain the ability to scale up or down as needed to meet demand during peak seasons, without incurring additional overhead costs.
A qualified order fulfillment provider can manage inventory from the time it is manufactured, to the time an order is placed and shipped to your customer. A team of experienced freight specialists can help ensure your inventory is safely, efficiently, and cost-effectively transferred into storage at your fulfillment center. Once in storage, inventory levels are monitored with real-time order data and inventory counts, to provide complete transparency.
2. The Importance of A Flexible Workforce
Fulfilling in-house leaves you with little room to scale your operations, and a limited workforce can further compound the challenges. Simply put, there is not enough time in one day to complete your order fulfillment tasks, when your daily volume triples with holiday orders. The additional labor force required to keep up with increased demand often leaves online merchants with only two options:
Hire extra help and absorb the higher labor costs, or risk negative customer reviews, by not meeting customer expectations for fast and accurate fulfillment.
Outsourcing order fulfillment not only allows merchants to scale their storage space up or down as needed, it also alleviates the challenge of forecasting labor requirements. When you outsource your fulfillment you also remove the headaches of hiring, training, supervising and firing to meet increased demands, or compensate for slowdowns. Hiring seasonal employees can be costly in more ways than one. Merchants who decide to do it all in-house often spend the majority of their day packing and shipping, with no time left to promote the business or quickly respond to customer inquiries.
3. Fast Shipping
The indisputable fact is that consumers now demand fast delivery of their online purchases. Studies have confirmed that the average online shopper expects to wait an average of 4.8 days for delivery. Offering free shipping gives merchants extra time to deliver—this is accomplished because, the number of consumers willing to patiently wait more than 5 days for delivery drastically increases when free shipping is offered, thereby giving businesses more time to deliver accurate purchases.
Outsourcing to a fulfillment provider with multiple locations can help merchants overcome the fast, and free shipping hurdle. An experienced third-party fulfillment provider can arm you with same-day order processing, fast delivery options, and reduced shipping costs. With 87% of online shoppers identifying shipping speed as a key factor influencing repeat purchases, online retailers cannot afford to risk meeting fast shipping demands.