Brace yourself. We’ve now entered peak holiday sale season.
And it’s not just Christmas we’re talking about.
In Australia, there are three major eCommerce sales events that are set to break records (and fulfilment chains) all across the globe.
Before Christmas, you’re probably already preparing for some of the world’s most viral sales events, including:
If you’re wondering about how you’re going to get through orders from these events as well as your regular Christmas orders, fear not!
We’ve put together a few fulfilment tactics to help you get through the busiest time of year without pulling your hair out.
Replenish warehouse stock levels now
Now’s the time to ensure your warehouse is fully stocked.
Go through your warehouse aisles and check to see you’ve got stock of each SKUs. Think about your most popular colours, sizes and variations and be sure to stock up on as much as you can.
If you’ve got a bit of spare time to kill, do a quick shuffle of your warehouse to ensure your most popular items are as close to your packing station as possible. This will drastically reduce the travel time of your pickers and could potentially save hours everyday.
Remember, it’s the calm before the storm. You’ll want to be as prepared as possible and high stock levels are your best bet to reducing delays and frustrated customers.
Organise your stock for priority orders
If you need a few tips on the basics of picking and packing, we’ve covered everything you need to know here.
Want to understand a better way of managing priority orders in a time when everything seems like it’s a priority?
Firstly, let’s define what a priority order is.
Priority orders have a tight shipping deadline, and depending on the delivery options you offer, they’ll need to be fulfilled and delivered within set timeframes, including:
- Within 90 minutes
- Within 3 hours
- On the same day
- The next day
- On a set time determined by the customer
Customers that use these delivery options aren’t willing to wait as long as customers who opt for free, slower shipping.
It’s a must to prioritise express shipping deliveries.
This means you may need to make a few changes to your warehouse setup, including:
- Creating a new picking section for your most popular items
- Creating a priority packing station with quick and easy access to all your shipping/packing supplies
- Ensure your workflow for priority orders is seamless – for example, ensure you don’t keep couriers waiting by packing all orders before booking them
- Notify your customers that their order has been shipped as soon as possible as this will reduce your inbound enquiries
Set realistic shipping expectations
Most customers are reasonable people, and as long as you set realistic expectations from the get go, they’ll be willing to wait for their orders if delays occur.
Be transparent that delays may occur, and set longer delivery times than usual
Promise fast delivery when you don’t have the capacity to deliver on time.
Review your returns process
A staggering 53% of customers check out a retailer’s return policy before they commit to a purchase, so without a clear and transparent refund policy and process, you could be losing over half of your expected revenue.
One of the first things to consider is how well your warehouse is optimised to handle both inbound and outbound deliveries.
Here’s how they differ:
Anything going out of your warehouse to a customer.
Returned items that need to be unpacked, checked and authorised for a refund or exchange. And during online events like Cyber Monday and Black Friday, you can expect your return rate to increase by at least 30%.
Without a consistent returns process across all businesses, the returns process can be frustrating for both customers and retailers:
- Sometimes customers can return items without order or return details.
- Sometimes retailers will reject a return once it’s already been shipped back to the seller.
- Sometimes it just takes a long time to process and customers get frustrated.
One of the easiest ways to avoid these situations is by offering customers the ability to lodge a return on their own. This gives customers control over the return process and removes confusion at your inbound sorting station.
If your store uses Shopify or Magento, then you’ll qualify to use Shippit’s latest returns product. Learn more about it here.
Get your shipping labels in order
Shipping labels are often the last thing fulfilment staff consider.
The truth is though, shipping labels are the most important asset when delivering an online order.
Shipping labels aren’t just a piece of paper, they:
- Serve as a portal of communication between the customer and your courier
- Store detailed information about the status of a delivery
- Are the only reference for where and who a parcel needs to be delivered to if the delivery is lost
Many new business owners make a few critical mistakes when they print their shipping labels:
- They print them on A4 paper which is not easy to scan and is easily damaged in transit
- They cover the barcode with sticky tape which makes it harder for the courier to scan
- They use a variety of different printers and shipping labels for different couriers which is really, really time consuming
- They laminate A4 labels to prevent damage in transit – but this takes a lot of time and wastes a lot of resources
During peak season, especially during online shopping events like Cyber Monday, you’ll want to reduce as much time printing and attaching labels as possible.
You’ll need a one-stop printing solution that removes the headache from attaching shipping labels to packages.
Look for a solution that can:
- Print shipping labels for all couriers (while ensuring couriers still accept the packages)
- Use thermal ink to reduce costs
- Print on adhesive shipping labels to slash your packing time
- Print both outbound and inbound shipping labels (if pre-printed return labels are a must for you)
Shop for printers here.
Just remember: ‘Tis the season for sales, not stress
Order fulfilment is without a doubt the least sexy part of eCommerce, but it’s also the most important part of the customer journey.
Warehouses, distribution centres, basements and brick-and-mortar storage spaces all have the power to make or break the happiness of an online customer.
Avoid Cyber Monday fulfilment craziness by getting more prepared than ever before:
- Inventory. It’s better to have too much than to run out and cause fulfilment backlogs
- Prioritise. Customers that pay for fast shipping expect fast shipping.
- Be realistic. Don’t over promise and deliver late. Set expectations before customers purchase.
- Returns. Give your customers the choice to lodge self-service returns.
- Labels. Cut the fat from your shipping label printing process by streamlining all labels into one solution
Need a bit more help getting your warehouse ready in time for Cyber Monday and Black Friday? Download our step by step guide to better shipping here.