Are you experiencing a summer slowdown? Chances are, your online product sales see a bit of a dip between the months of June and October. But then the holiday shopping season comes along and the demand for holiday order fulfillment hits you like a ton of bricks! Take the extra time now to focus on improving the holiday shopping experience for your customers.
Instead of stressing over the summer slump, how about focusing on preparations to make this upcoming holiday season your best one yet? This is the perfect time to plan your holiday marketing strategy and an even better time to prepare your holiday order fulfillment strategy.
Here are 3 Reasons to Plan Holiday Order Fulfillment Now:
1. There is a LOT to Do in a Short Period of Time
The holiday season, from October to January, can increase sales dramatically for sellers. This spike in product sales also means a significant increase in holiday order fulfillment. Plan for your shipping and fulfillment strategy now. Your strategy should include inventory, storage, packing materials and staffing . If you anticipate the need for additional staff to cover the increased holiday order volume, start looking early. Last minute hiring, even for temporary or seasonal workers, can prevent you from having enough time to train workers properly. Plan your shipping strategy and know all the important shipping carrier deadlines.
If you’ve been on the fence about outsourcing your fulfillment, RSL VP of Operations Mary Marriot, offers the following advice, “Partnering with a fulfillment company prior to the holidays allows clients to focus solely on their marketing strategy and product mix in anticipation of a volume spike. They don’t have to focus on how to deliver the influx of orders.” In other words, you don’t have to do all the heavy lifting by yourself!
2. Customer Experience During the Holidays Can Make or Break Customer Loyalty
Part of holiday order fulfillment is the customer support that goes with it. A undesirable customer experience is likely to send 89% of customers to a competitor. Think about your current processes and platforms. Put in place a strategy that can keep up with the increased inquiries for product details, order tracking and returns. Reevaluate your returns policy and develop a policy specific for the holidays, if necessary. If you’ll be putting in place a new system, such as a chat feature, be sure to give it at least 30 days to ramp up!
As Mary notes, “The right fulfillment partner will provide a consistent customer experience every day, and this is something that can be especially tough for businesses during the holiday season”. Remember: the customer experience does not stop on your website. Be ready to provide exceptional customer experience from your online store, to your customer’s doorstop. Have all your bases covered to ensure happy customers and return visits after the holidays.
3. If You’re Thinking About Outsourced Fulfillment, You Must Start Now
Outsourcing holiday order fulfillment can relieve you from the stress that comes with handling the spikes in holiday retail orders. If this year’s holiday season is finally the season to outsource order fulfillment for your online business, understand the process involved and start now. Don’t let the opportunity to get holiday order fulfillment off your plate pass you by!
The average onboarding time for an online store to fully integrate its operations into a new fulfillment center is 30 to 45 days. If the holiday season is a busy time for online retailers, you can imagine how busy the fulfillment centers handling the increased order volume are! For this reason, an established fulfillment company will prepare for the holiday order fulfillment rush as early as October, delaying new client onboarding until after the holidays.
Enjoy Your Holiday Sales and Enjoy Your Holidays
Don’t let the frenzy of in-house holiday order fulfillment get the best of you! Explore your options for outsourced order fulfillment and determine which fulfillment model is right for your business.
Request a free shipping and fulfillment consultation with a fulfillment advisor to learn more about outsourcing order fulfillment here or give us a call at 866-955-7793. We’d love to hear from you!