The holidays are often a peak ordering time for e-commerce businesses in the retail sector. Today's holiday shopper considers order turnaround speed and delivery convenience as a differentiator between brands.
In the current highly volatile marketplace, the ability to get products quickly into the hands of a customer is a competitive advantage for most e-commerce retailers. Unfortunately, the massive growth of e-commerce, increased customer expectations, low inventory levels, and overburdened shipping carriers combine to raise the stakes high for most e-commerce retailers this season.
To maintain customer satisfaction and loyalty, diligent preparation for the holiday rush is a must. This blog provides tips that can help you accelerate and optimize order fulfillment, so you keep pace with surging demands this Christmas season.
Some E-Commerce Holiday Statistics to Consider
- In 2020 holiday online shopping grew by 32.2 % from 2019 to reach $188.2 billion. Ecommerce sales in November alone, which included Cyber Monday, reached $100 billion for the first time.
- A 2020 study by Deloitte reveals US households spent an average of $1,387 during the previous Christmas holiday season.
- Another 2021 report by MuchNeeded shows holiday shopping can account for up to 30% of total retail sales.
Peak Season Shipping for Direct-to-Customer (DTC) Brands
Traditionally, the holiday shopping season commences after Thanksgiving and extends throughout December into the New Year. However, some brands start offering deals as early as October. Peak shopping season can be a stressful moment for shippers. Typically, consumers try to maximize the deals and promos available to them, leading to a surge in order volume.
Some specific pain points that DTC brands face during peak season shipping includes:
Increased consumer activity: E-commerce has been experiencing an upward trajectory in the last few years. The 2020 holiday season saw a massive growth of 49% and is expected to maintain this growth this year. Although the popularity of online shopping is good news for e-commerce retailers, it brings with it several shipping issues. DTC brands need adequate preparation to handle increasing volume orders and prevent delays that could lead to customer dissatisfaction and loss of revenue.
Customer expectations and demands: Today's customers consider shipping time, unboxing experience, and shipping costs when purchasing. Unfortunately, not all businesses in DTC e-commerce have the resources to offer same-day or overnight shipping that bigger players like Amazon provides.
COVID-19 restrictions: Despite the vaccine rollout, the new surge in COVID-19 infections can still affect the peak shipping season of 2021. Most consumers will ultimately shift online, meaning third-party carriers might get overloaded with demand for deliveries leading to massive delays. The usual shortage of inventory from suppliers during peak season and the current shortage of truck drivers may combine to worsen the problem.
Halt in supplier operations: Several manufacturers limit their operations during the holiday season. Shutdowns can significantly delay the shipment of inventory. Since inventory sourcing is integral to the supply chain, any delays occasioned by a shortage of inventory will eventually affect the entire shipping and order fulfillment processes for DTC operators.
How to Improve Your Christmas Shipping Process
Improve Technology and Software
Embracing the power of automation is the first step to optimize and streamline your Christmas shipping process. DTC brands that have robust technology and automation in place can track inventory, forecast demand, organize fulfillment, and provide accurate shipping updates to customers.
Essentially, by replacing manual processes with cloud-based e-commerce order fulfillment systems, DTC brands can increase their speed, agility, and accuracy to avoid delays and meet customer demands and expectations.
Prepare for Shortages
Inventory shortages can result from many avenues, such as a greater demand than anticipated, supply chain interruptions, COVID-19-related delays, and more. When you prepare for these shortages and have more supplies than you need, you're ready for these delays when they happen.
Deploy an effective inventory management system to track your in-stock inventory and undertake demand forecasting. Order all your items in time and constantly communicate with your suppliers to know the exact dates they intend to deliver.
Having a well-stocked inventory as you approach the holiday peak shopping season is one way to make extra sales while avoiding costly stock-outs that can leave a negative shopping experience in the minds of your customers.
Communicate Carrier Shipping Dates
Even with the most diligent preparations, delays can still happen. It is advisable to manage consumer expectations, especially with delivery and shipping dates, by communicating carrier dates with them.
Provide a reasonable allowance to transit duration and keep the customer in the loop on any new development. When you and your customers understand carrier cutoffs, you have a better chance of delivering on these expectations while building as much customer trust as possible.
Take Advantage of Cyber Monday
The popularity of the Cyber Monday shopping holiday has been growing in recent years. The 2020 Cyber Monday saw shoppers spending a whopping $10.8 billion, an increase from the $9.4 billion spent in 2019. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the busiest shopping days in the US, with millions of excited shoppers surfing the web for hot limited-time deals.
Start peak season right by preparing for holiday fulfillment and thriving during Cyber Monday. You can drive your Cyber Monday sales by offering hot gifts, Cyber Monday exclusive discounts, promotions, and more.
Partner with a 3PL Provider
Partnering with a 3PL provider can help ease the pressure of a demanding holiday shopping season. The ideal logistics provider can relieve you of the burden of the order shipping and fulfillment process by taking over the entire supply chain process.
Partnering with a 3PL or upgrading from your current 3PL allows you to accomplish all the above and improve your Christmas Shipping Process.
Whether you are a small or big-sized business, you can expect a remarkable uptick in your sales during this Christmas season. Data reveals the holiday season is the most profitable time in the entire year making over 25% to 30% of a business's entire annual profits.
However, these holidays are also the most challenging peak shipping season for most DTC businesses. The massive rise of orders and the rising customer demands and expectations for smooth and fast online shopping can put undue pressure on even the most diligent e-commerce retailer.
If you need help to prepare for the holiday rush and maintain customer satisfaction and loyalty, don't hesitate to contact Smart Warehousing today. We leverage premium technology and automation to provide a powerful back-of-the-house solution that ensures our clients enjoy peace of mind to focus on their brands, knowing they are staying ahead of the industry's demands.
Our solution ensures your brand is always one step ahead of your customers' expectations. Contact us today to learn more.