As you’re soaking up the last bit of summer, hopefully you’ve already started thinking ahead to the chillier holiday season and the rush of customers it brings. August only seems too early if you haven’t suffered through a holiday season for which you didn’t prepare enough!
So this year, we present this Holiday Fulfillment Challenge. Challenge yourself to complete each of these items with time to spare before Halloween, and you’ll be all set when Black Friday rolls around. Let’s get started.
Use history to your advantage
Customers can be a little unpredictable, but it’s not entirely a mystery. Before the holiday season hits in full swing, take an in-depth look at your customer buying histories to see which products have been popular. Try to determine the following:
With this information, you should be able to make an educated guess about which products will be popular this year, whether it’s your reliable best sellers or a new release you have planned. Make sure to schedule ordering extra inventory far in advance, if you can, so that you can have a buffer in stock already for those anticipated surges.
Once you have the legwork done on that, you can use this information in a couple of different ways. If you do fulfillment in-house, this can help you prepare for how much space you’ll need to stock all your inventory and even reveal that you need to change up the layout of your warehouse to make things more efficient. If you use a third-party fulfillment center, share this information with them so you can both get on the same page.
Hire a team
If you do your fulfillment in-house, now is the time to start looking for extra warehouse labor. With the time it takes to get the word out, go through the hiring process, and onboard and train your new employees, you should not be waiting until October to start.
A great warehouse staff can be your best asset when demand is high, so it’s important to start hiring early. A delay in hiring and training can mean catastrophic delays in shipping your products, and by the time you realize you could use some extra labor, it’s already too late.
Holiday promotions have a lot going on beyond “20% off!” It’s best to plan out every aspect of the promotion now, especially with respect to how it’s going to affect your logistics. Start by going through this checklist:
This is all going to affect how you handle your order fulfillment, if you do it all in-house. Any promotion that has a different process than your typical products will require preparation for how to handle it in the fulfillment center, whether it’s giving certain items shipping priority, preparing for that order deadline date, or handling the increase in returns.
Shrinkage and errors happen, as much as we don’t want them to, and now is the time to reset and start with a clean slate. As you’re stocking up on your products, make sure you have an exact count of how many you have. The more accurate you can be going into the holiday season, the better, and there’s no better time to check than now, when the warehouse isn’t overrun by extra workers, extra orders, and extra stress.
This is vital in the days of omnichannel selling. Customers can probably buy from you at least two different ways, in some combination of brick-and-mortar, online ecommerce store, and social selling. The worst thing you can do is not have your inventory management system accurately updating! A well-run omnichannel inventory management system will translate to a seamless experience for the customer and a stress-free experience for you.
Have an Easy Breezy Holiday Season
With all the work it takes behind the scenes to have a successful holiday fulfillment experience, it can feel like it’s never too early to start preparing. By starting to work out the kinks in the summer, you can count on having a smooth fall and winter holiday season. What have you been glad you did to prepare in the past?
The post Holiday Fulfillment Challenge: what you should have done in August for a Happy Christmas appeared first on Get Elastic Ecommerce Blog.