It’s gone incredibly quick, but believe it or not, Xmas holiday season is just around the corner. With under 80 days until Black Friday kicks it all off with a frenzy of online shopping, it is now time to start your preparations. We understand that it is hard to start thinking about Christmas when your head is still in the sunshine, but for retailers this is the perfect time to look ahead and get your fulfilment operations mapped out.
Without a plan, you are running the risk of failing during a critical trading period. Delivery cut off times and returns policies are just two among the many variables to consider, yet the definitive goal is leaving your customers happy and satisfied. Here are a few tips from 3P Logistics that may help you in planning for fulfilment success this season.
So, You Want Happy Customers?
Review 2015 – Autopsy
Take a look back at how you did things last year, how busy were you? What went well? What didn’t go so well? If you’ve yet to go back over last year’s performance, then now is that time. Analysing data and creating reports may help you understand where you need to focus your time in 2016.
In short, over stocking is better than ‘that message’ no consumer wants to see – ‘Out of Stock’. If your marketing campaigns are successful, Black Friday and Christmas may lead to a flood of orders that could see your more popular items disappear quicker than originally thought. The main message, happy customers. Don’t let your customers be disappointed by outages.
With Black Friday becoming a worldwide phenomenon over recent years, a lot of carriers, couriers and postal services have found it difficult to maintain their usual level of service. And with so many eCommerce sites now offering Next and even same Day Delivery to their customers, it isn’t that hard to believe. Therefore last year, many retailers (and carriers) announced that they would be slightly altering their delivery policy over the peak order periods. Customers will appreciate that reassurance of knowing when they can expect their order, whereas unexpected delays and empty promises can cause a fair amount of upset.
Returns – Under Estimate At Your Peril
November to January is a period that sees a much higher rate of returns than the rest of the year. Whether it is not quite what the customer expected, or it doesn’t fit, that’s just the way it is. This is why you need to make sure your returns policy is clear and your operations can handle such an increase in volume. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to collect some data on your returns, analysing the causes and how they can be avoided.
In light of the last point made, ensuring your operations can handle such an increase in demand may prove difficult. This is where outsourcing to a third party fulfilment house comes in to play. This could be the time to consider t outsourcing all of your operations to a third party specialist. From extra warehouse space to extra staff, these peak periods are not easy to plan for. With a trained team and enough space to accommodate for the largest of operations, a third party is most likely the best path to take.
If you are interested in outsourcing your operations over this holiday season then why not talk to us here at 3P Logistics. We cater for any businesses looking to outsource their whole fulfilment process.
Written By Ian Walker - Managing Director