Ecommerce Order Fulfillment: Are You Ready for E-Commerce Sales this Holiday Season?
Deloitte predicts e-commerce holiday retail sales to grow 25-35% and 62% of adult shoppers planning to do all of their holiday shopping online this year, retailers and manufacturers have a lot to gain if they are properly prepared.
The team at TAGG Logistics, LeSaint Logistics’ parent company, loves the holidays! We live to ensure companies who need ecommerce order fulfillment are properly prepared to reap the rewards, regardless of ecommerce order fulfillment or omnichannel fulfillment needs they have.
Here is our list of tips for preparing for the coming e-commageddon for ecommerce order fulfillment:
1. Line up all your 3PLs for the unprecedented demand on your warehouse logistics.
Now’s the time to review your current e-commerce order fulfillment partners for scalability—both in sheer volume and in breadth of services. Do they have the people, the inventory and the warehouse space to handle a surge? As you expend more time on sales and marketing to capitalize on the opportunities, will they be able to offer the direct-to-consumer and retail-ready configurations you need to free up your time?
All options are on the table this holiday season, and your fulfillment partner needs to bring every one of them. For example, scaling up may be best accomplished by developing the inventory management activities within your own facilities. TAGG has designed a comprehensive labor and operations management solution for just this scenario.
2. Diversify to mitigate the risks of stock-outs and delays for consumer packaged goods.
Don’t let service interruptions with your fulfillment partner bring your deliveries to a standstill. Spreading the risk among partners is the way to safeguard your supply chain. Maintaining relationships with separate fulfillment providers gives you a backup. On the downside, it also requires duplicate systems, inventories, billing systems and other inefficiencies.
An alternative is an ecommerce order fulfillment partner that offers a network of fulfillment centers that spread out operations and inventory while providing the efficiency of one unified system. TAGG provides a nationwide fulfillment center network that puts small parcel delivery within 1 to 3 days anywhere in the U.S. mainland.
3. Know your inventory to know success.
Ordering online only to be told later that the product is sold-out disappoints customers. In the flurry of e-commerce order fulfillment, keeping a tight count of inventory is crucial. Having accurate visibility into product levels and communicating stock-outs and delays with buyers is key. Not an easy challenge when your stock is spread across facilities. TAGG Logistics features warehousing technology and equipment that provides real-time access to inventory levels throughout its national network of fulfillment centers.
4. Load test like your life depended on it.
It goes without saying that you should test your infrastructure to ensure your e-commerce store can manage the coming crush of visits and purchases. Test your servers to make sure they can handle a surge, and make sure your site speed is up to standards—slow page loads lead to bounces.
There’s no load test when it comes to e-commerce order fulfillment, but you can look at precedent. For example, if your e-commerce order fulfillment partner handles flash sales, like TAGG, you can be sure they can handle your surge.
5. Have a plan for the coming delivery service shortage.
Salesforce predicts that the amount of parcels shipped by the big delivery providers—FedEx, UPS and DHL—will exceed capacity by 5% between the week before Cyber Week and Boxing Day.
Fulfillment providers with strong delivery carrier partnerships have the best chance of making sure your products ship first. TAGG leverages bulk contracts to ensure delivery service and the best rates. Positioning fulfillment centers close to your best markets will help, too.
6. Protect your margin by controlling transportation costs.
Amidst all this holiday season’s e-commerce excitement, retailers and manufacturers need to keep a close eye on their logistics costs. According to Dino Moler, EVP of client solutions at TAGG Logistics, “E-commerce order fulfillment can increase manufacturers’ and retailers’ costs, and those costs can vary widely. That’s why it’s crucial to have access to transportation brokerage team that provides the most competitive rates and options for every shipment, at a service level well beyond what any freight load board can provide.”
The bulk rates and buying power of fulfillment and logistics partner are a critical hedge against high costs this holiday season. This year delivery surcharges from the big delivery service providers will also threaten margins. Finding a tactful way to pass on the $4.5 billion in COVID-19 delivery surcharges predicted by Salesforce will be a challenge facing all e-commerce merchants.
7. If you can’t be fast, be attentive by boosting customer service.
Delays this season are inevitable. Keeping customers informed of their order status and being transparent about timelines is the best policy. Proactive updates and responsive customer service are essential with today’s jittery consumers. If you don’t have enough people to answer inquiries, TAGG can help. We handle customer service for well-known brands’ e-commerce order fulfillment and flash sales.
8. Invest in customer experience to gain loyal customers.
Some of the biggest winners during this e-commerce boom will be brands who can hold onto first-time customers. As shoppers switch to other brands when their first choice is sold out, retailers and manufacturers gain the opportunity to shine.
A seamless experience can lead to a loyal customer. Similarly, a fantastic unboxing experience can create a brand fanatic. Today’s leading e-commerce order fulfillment companies are indispensable partners in designing boxes that delight and providing a wide range of value-added services that minimize your costs and support your brand standards.
9. Anticipate additional customer service requirements.
“Just because there’s no in-person sales person in e-commerce doesn’t mean there’s no customer service,” explains Moler. “In some ways, it’s more critical because it’s usually precipitated by an issue that needs resolving,”
More sales will likely mean more issues this season. NetElixir predicts that this holiday season, more than 5% of e-commerce revenue will be driven by shoppers who are new to online shopping—and need more hand-holding.
Are you ready for the returns? When consumers purchase substitutes to sold-out products, return rates rise. Anticipate the deluge with the help of an e-commerce order fulfillment partner with warehouse and e-commerce fulfillment centers across the U.S. who can also handle your returns and return them to inventory in time to be resold.
10. Be prepared to go global.
With stock-outs becoming a global phenomena and consumers everywhere having more time on their hands to shop online, expect more international customers. Seek a seamless solution to make your international commerce flow. A full-service fulfillment partner like TAGG Logistics offers international shipping as part of their comprehensive transportation and logistics brokerage services.
EXPERIENCE AND CONNECTIONS COUNT WHEN HEADING INTO THE UNKNOWN.
Whether the coming months provide your company with new opportunities or challenges depends largely on the agile e-commerce order fulfillment solutions you employ. Learn more about how TAGG Logistics can help you pivot toward the opportunities this holiday season. Talk to a team member.