There’s something about the last few months of the year that’s true for every brand: it’s the busiest, most hectic shopping season by far. Say hello to the retail and ecommerce peak season.
Between Black Friday, Cyber Monday, the December holidays and more, calling it “peak season” is an understatement. So, knowing what’s on the horizon, how should you prepare? Continue reading to learn about 10 ways you can set yourself up for ecommerce success when it matters most.
Why is the end of the year so busy?
Needless to say, there are peaks and valleys when it comes to the retail and ecommerce industry. However, it’s safe to bet that the end of the year is packed for almost all brands. Why?
Many major holidays are bunched together around this time of year, leading to surges in traffic, sales, shipping, and returns. Some key dates to note include:
- Halloween: October 31, 2023
- Black Friday: November 24, 2023
- Cyber Monday: November 27, 2023
- Christmas: December 25, 2023
- Hanukkah: December 7 – 15, 2023
Of course, this is not the complete list of major shopping periods. There are other shopping holidays that fall outside of this time period including Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Valentine’s Day, to name a few. These are all periods where you can expect to see a surge in traffic and, ideally, sales.
Black Friday, Cyber Monday (BFCM), and the December holiday season present incredible opportunities for your business to finish the year off strong.
Take the success of Black Friday 2022, for example. It was expected to be a big online shopping day in U.S. and it did not disappoint. Shoppers spent a record 9.12 billion in online sales.
So what does this all mean for your brand? It means that now is the time to start preparing for an ecommerce peak season.
10 tips to maximize ecommerce peak season
Partnering effectively with a 3rd party logistics (3PL) company can help brands thrive during the busy holiday shopping season. Here are 10 ways to make that partnership successful:
1. Early planning and forecasting
Work closely with your 3PL partner to create a detailed forecast of expected order volumes during the holiday season. This enables them to allocate the necessary resources and optimize their operations to handle the increased load.
2. Clear communication
Maintain open lines of communication with your 3PL partner. Regularly update them about promotions, sales, and any changes in product offerings to ensure they are well-prepared.
3. Inventory management
Collaborate on inventory management strategies to ensure sufficient stock levels of popular items. Implement safety stock measures to prevent stockouts and delays.
Working with a 3PL provider that can offer reliable warehouse management system can give you greater visibility into your supply chain. With real-time updates, combined with improved data tracking capabilities, warehouse management systems can help streamline processes while increasing efficiency.
Make sure your 3PL partner can scale their operations to accommodate increased order volumes. Discuss how they plan to manage peak season demands without compromising on service quality. From adding to their fleet, diversifying their carrier network, and hiring additional warehouse staff, there are a variety of ways for your 3PL to scale with you during the busy rush.
5. Technology integration
Integrate your systems with your 3PL partner’s technology. For example, GoBolt’s technology gives you and your shoppers an enhanced fulfillment and delivery experience.
GoBolt’s advanced technology includes our:
- Merchant portal
Our merchant portal gives brands real-time control of inventory, orders, and shipments along with reduced support costs and increased first-touch resolution.
- Routing algorithm
Our tech optimizes last mile delivery routes to minimize carbon emissions, reduce costs, and increase on-time delivery.
- Real-time tracking
Our truck tracking application enables your shoppers to see exactly when their delivery will arrive by tracking the delivery vehicle on a map.
6. Streamline your returns process
Returns can be a major issue for brands. Especially considering some of these eye-opening stats on product returns:
- At least 30% of products purchased online are returned vs. 8.9% in brick and mortar stores
- 92% of customers will buy something again if the returns process was easy
- 67% of shoppers check the returns page before making a purchase
- 47% want an easy-to-print return label
It’s critical to develop a streamlined process for handling returns during, and after, the holiday season. Efficient returns processing can enhance customer satisfaction and ensure returned items re-enter inventory promptly. Partnering with a 3PL to manage your seasonal returns is a highly effective way to ensure your shoppers’ returns are managed seamlessly.
7. Customized packaging
Collaborate on special packaging to create a unique and memorable unboxing experience for customers. Custom packaging can enhance brand loyalty and customer satisfaction.
8. Last mile optimization
Work with a 3PL partner to optimize your last mile. This can lead to faster and more accurate deliveries, reducing the risk of late or missed shipments. Plus, a good last mile solution improves the shopper experience, and cost-effectiveness.
Here are a few key ways that 3PLs can help optimize your last mile:
- Optimized fulfillment network: Working with a 3PL that has strategically placed fulfillment centers enables faster deliveries and reduces the distance traveled in the last mile.
- Route optimization: 3PLs like GoBolt leverage advanced routing software to optimize delivery routes, reducing delivery times and fuel costs. And gives a boost to your brand’s sustainability initiatives!
- Delivery appointment booking: Offer shoppers flexible delivery options, including the ability to book a preferred delivery time slot so they aren’t shackled to a large delivery window.
- Delivery tracking: Last mile delivery tracking, like GoBolt’s real-time truck tracking, enhances the convenience of last mile deliveries.
- Sustainability: Look for a 3PL that provides eco-friendly delivery options, such as the use of electric vehicles, to reduce the environmental impact of your last mile.
9. Quality control
Establish quality control checkpoints to ensure accurate order picking, packing, and shipping. Regularly review and refine these processes based on feedback and data analysis.
10. Contingency planning
Prepare for unexpected challenges, such as weather disruptions, supply chain issues, or labor shortages. Develop contingency plans with your 3PL partner to minimize the impact of potential disruptions.
Bonus: Consider the specific needs of cross-border shoppers
If you’re looking to target shoppers across the border this holiday shopping season, you’re going to have to address their needs and concerns in order to stay competitive. That includes keeping duty fees and shipping times low.
Shipping and fulfilling across the border can present inconveniences for ecommerce shoppers on both sides. Shipping premiums due to longer distances and customs fees can be major deterrents for cross-border shoppers.
In light of this, consider promotions that are targeted specifically at the obstacles that prevent cross-border shoppers from converting this holiday season. This could mean offering free or discounted shipping, or covering duty fees for a limited time.
Take your brand to the next level this ecommerce peak season
Remember, a successful partnership with a 3PL company during the holiday season requires ongoing collaboration, adaptability, and a shared commitment to delivering a seamless shopper experience. Regularly assess the partnership’s effectiveness and make adjustments as needed to ensure optimal results.