The Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend is a huge opportunity for consumers and business owners alike to cash in on some sweet deals. The Adobe Digital Economy Index recorded $10.7 billion was spent on goods on Cyber Monday in 2021, and the forecast for this year is even higher.
For eCommerce business owners, it’s no secret that the holiday season can be the most stressful (but the most profitable) time of the year. Your company has to focus on top-notch marketing, competitive pricing, and high-quality customer service. At the same time, your fulfillment team needs to be prepared for the spike in order volume.
This year, you might just survive peak season. Be on the lookout for ways your business can thrive on Cyber Monday next year:
First and foremost, you need to know what to expect. Once you’ve made projections for next year’s Cyber Monday sales, those numbers need to be shared with your fulfillment partner. Clear communication is critical for keeping fulfillment operations running smoothly.
Staffing for peak season is a tricky thing, but it can be much less stressful for both your business and your fulfillment team if you share careful, regularly updated sales projections. If you are outsourcing your fulfillment, your 3PL partner can cross-train employees and flex its labor between accounts that experience peak season at different times. This way, you receive the support you need during peak season and the warehouse team can plan for labor more efficiently. Win-win!
In the month of November, your fulfillment partner may need to handle several times the number of orders they picked, packed and shipped in previous months in just a few days. Will they be able to handle it?
“Consumers’ expectations have universally shifted, becoming more demanding on order processing and delivery times.” says WSI sales manager Ryan Brewer. “In order to meet the rising demand, you need to pick, pack, and ship orders as quickly as possible.”
Automation and AI technology can be used to make order fulfillment faster and easier in a variety of ways. Warehouse management software can help with batching orders, optimizing pick paths, and other behind-the-scenes processes that help fulfillment operations be fast and efficient. Speaking of efficiency, we can’t forget the importance of a reliable order management system (OMS). Finding an OMS that suits your company’s needs can increase efficiency by automating many of the processes your employees may currently be doing manually. An OMS can improve the overall customer experience by accepting and tracking orders from several channels (such as on your website, in-store, or via social media advertisements) at the same time. It allows both you and your customers to track an order from beginning to end.
If you’re partnered with a third-party logistics provider (3PL), they may be able to integrate you with an OMS they already use. For example, WSI uses a state-of-the-art OMS to manage orders in our warehouses.
You can expect the number of online orders placed to your business to rise dramatically in the week leading up to Cyber Monday. Having enough inventory to support those orders over the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend is critical.
This year, did you have enough inventory to meet demand? Did you end up with overstock? Using past and current sales projections can help you avoid inventory management mistakes. This also requires good visibility into your inventory and accurate data from your warehouses.
We have to acknowledge the inevitable: Some holiday gifts will be returned. Investopedia estimates that two out of three consumers returned at least one gift following the 2021 holiday season.
Your business must be prepared to handle an influx of returns after the holidays. Some items can be put back into inventory and resold, but other items have to be destroyed. You need to let your 3PL partner know what to do with the goods that come back!
Having a clear return policy that’s easy to find is fundamental for a comprehensive returns management strategy. Your 3PL may have some advice on how to handle eCommerce returns.
“A business is only as strong as its warehouse,” notes Ryan Brewer, “Without the proper systems, processes, and staff in place, Black Friday/Cyber Monday can either make or break your business.”
If this year’s holiday rush doesn’t go smoothly, it’s time to consider other options. WSI has eCommerce facilities across the United States, so, your products are never too far from where they need to go. Our large footprint gives us the ability to flex labor across our sites, so staffing to support your business during peak season is never an issue.
On top of having the staff to get the job done, fast, reliable delivery is at the crux of eCommerce business. That’s why our small-parcel delivery network can get packages to customers’ doorsteps within 2 days anywhere in the contiguous United States.
Want to learn more about your options for tackling Cyber Monday fulfillment? Get in touch with WSI today!