Volume affects everything during the busy Q4 shopping season, and makes the process of shipping more costly, and more unreliable. Have a plan in place for increased shipping costs. For example, for the 2017 peak season UPS and Fedexannounced surcharges. Brands should be determining how much surcharge they’ll be able to absorb and what amount to pass through to their customers.
It’s also critical that brands understand value shipping options and closely monitor delivery track record in order to have a record of how reliable that particular method is. Value shipping options from major carriers typically complete the last leg of their journey in the hands of a USPS letter carrier. While this “last mile” delivery option offers significant savings, it’s not guaranteed and should not be relied upon during peak. By closely monitoring the performance of such shipping options, brands will be able to determine whether to upgrade to pure ground or pure air services.
Labor scheduling is a big deal right now, as commerce giants are setting up fulfillment and distribution centers in major hubs, driving up the cost of labor, and hiring from a finite labor pool. It’s important to have partners in place that can reliably forecast and plan for labor fluctuations. Brands should also be looking at ways to either maintain the labor force they have or invest in ways to streamline the order fulfillment process so that they can be more efficient with the workforce they currently employ.
Leverage data from your customer service team to identify recurring themes. Look for negative trends. Are your packages arriving late, or not arriving at all? Have your customers been receiving damaged goods? Share this information with your fulfillment partner so they can address the root of the issue ahead of peak.
Keep your fulfillment team informed about all marketing campaigns you’re running during peak. This will help with sales planning, as well as meeting increased fulfillment demands. Promoted products will need to be slotted so that picking is fast and efficient. This will save time and money, and more importantly, create happy customers that are more likely to be repeat buyers.
Handling fulfillment in house can seem like an attractive option on the surface. When considering this, ask yourself- Am I able to handle the planning and management of operations during peak, as well as the significant overhead (fulfillment center, labor, and supply chain expenses)? If you’re not sure, speak with a third party logistics company (3PL) about your situation. Working with a 3PL can offer significant benefits, like forecasting systems, scaling (up or down) depending on the market, paying only for utilized space, and of course, benefiting from years of industry experience.
A 3PL partner like Dotcom Distribution has a deep understanding of eCommerce and omnichannel fulfillment, with proven processes that will help make sure your holiday peak is a success. To learn more about peak planning best practices and specific tips to help your business, contact us here.