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Here is your 3 part guide on everything you need to know on how to prepare for the eCommerce holiday season.
10 Tips When Preparing for Peak Shipping Season
As you can probably see, companies have a lot of scenarios to consider when entering into an eCommerce business. These situations are only heightened further during periods of high demand.
To help prepare, here are 10 practical recommendations that should help keep things running smoothly. Moreover, it could help you get ahead of potential problems before they even happen, saving you a ton of time, money, and heartache in the process.
1 – Cover Your Bases by Hiring Enough People
We spoke a bit about this in Part One. When companies don’t have enough manpower, it causes unnecessary stress to everyone involved, particularly your clients. Not exactly an experience you want to be remembered for.
At the same, it leads you to miss out on various opportunities. Whether in terms of sales or retaining a quality employee, you don’t want to find yourself in that particular position.
The first step to avoiding this is by knowing your daily routines by heart. On a regular day, how many workers are needed for everything to run smoothly? Moreover, what are the choke points that cause the most delays? Identifying this basic information can help you map out the key steps for moving forward.
Typically, every peak shipping season requires approximately twenty percent of additional manpower. So a few weeks before, consider hiring part-time employees and assign them to departments that experience an influx of work.
Many companies will contest that having more people around will just cause your overhead to bloat. This isn’t wrong, though. But at least you’ll have a much better chance of pushing out old inventory. Not to mention keeping morale up, anxiety down, and mistakes at a minimum.
2 – Upgrade and Improve Your Systems
General upkeep of your website, software and applications are important. More so when you’re catering to an unusual amount of traffic.
Just ask an IT personnel to modernize your existing systems. Tech can change every day, so keeping up is just as important. Even seemingly insignificant actions like deleting old files and clearing the cache can make a big difference in ensuring that everything is running seamlessly.
At the same time, check on your backend management tools and software, too. Updates are typically rolled out every two or three months. But if possible, have your provider install any new changes right before a major sales event. This way, the additional workload can be easily and effectively sustained.
These technicalities can be troublesome if not addressed. So consider hiring someone to oversee this part of your business, even just as a consultant. Once again, consider it an investment, which will allow you to focus on more pressing matters. And if you really plan on migrating to a digital platform full-time, this is definitely a step in the right direction.
3 – Enhance User Experience
Creating a pleasant experience for customers isn’t just about the quick loading speed of your website. A user-friendly layout, appealing design, engaging copy, and properly-curated photographs are all areas that need enough attention, too. Remember, with so many potential buyers out there, you want to keep them entertained for as long as humanly possible.
Now, achieving this is by no means an easy task. For rapidly-growing companies, it might be best to hire a professional, especially if their site is already quite complex. But for 75% of sellers out there that are SMEs, here are some ideas you could implement that won’t cost too much.
First is to go through the entire buyer’s journey yourself, putting a special emphasis on how well you absorb data. Try also reflecting on the following questions, which should help evaluate the quality of user experience:
● Is the site or page inviting enough to new visitors?
● Are sections laid out properly to be easily understood? Does looking at it make you feel a bit overwhelmed?
● Do the photos convey the actual item?
● How clear is the copy? Are instructions explained carefully, even to someone with no prior experience with the product?
● How long did it take you to navigate through the entire page?
● What was your general feeling afterwards?
After a bit of contemplation, just make the necessary modifications you see fit. It could be as simple as changing the color, removing redundant text, or adding more product shots.
Ultimately, user-experience has a lot to do with overall feel, so even changing up the tiniest details can make a major impact. And the longer customers stay on, the more likely they are to buy something.
4 – Stock Up on Supplies
When orders begin pouring in, the atmosphere can get extremely chaotic. And arguably, the most exhausting part comes when packing each item. Since every one of them will probably travel cross country, they need to be carefully boxed up, filled with bubble wrap and labelled correctly. To ensure proper mobilization, of course.
Shipfusion will handle all of this, including having extra supplies of cartons, cling wrap, packing peanuts and tape.
5 – Focus on Frontline Jobs
In the earlier segment, we discussed the value of having enough workers present during any peak shipping session. What’s equally crucial, as well, is assigning them to frontline responsibilities—specifically, handling sales inquiries, returns, and disputes.
It’s natural for customer queries to skyrocket during these times, considering the amount of potential closed business. But don’t be alarmed. The majority are just clients seeking clarification on certain details. Nevertheless, it would be good to assign a team to take charge of all this.
Allocating a team will greatly depend on your current sales funnels. In general, these are the areas that agents are typically assigned to and the number of people.
● Social Media Accounts – 1 or 2 individuals per page
● eCommerce Platform – 4 to 5 individuals online at all times
● Trunkline / Landline / Mobile – 2 people present
● Returns, Claims, and Disputes Department – 3 people
Now, this may seem a bit excessive at first. However, remember that how a company relates to would-be shoppers reflects largely on their culture. And as always, it’s important to radiate an aura of openness, pleasantness, and approachability.
So when assigning members to these positions, make sure they are equipped. Here are a few key characteristics to consider:
● Possesses a pleasing personality
● Understands all existing deals and promotions
● Can be an ambassador of the brand and is knowledgeable on all products
● Stands firm on rules but communicates the explanations properly
● Remains organized and responsive most of the time
TO BE CONTINUED…..
Stay tuned next week for part 3 of our 3 part ‘How to Prepare for Peak Holiday Season,” for the rest of the top 10 tips!
Shipfusion sets your business on autopilot and combines flexible, reliable fulfillment with powerful, real-time technology. Shipfusion has multiple fulfillment centers across the US and Canada– making it easy to manage your eCommerce business. For more information on how to set your business on autopilot, contact one of our fulfillment specialists today.