When it comes to the holidays, retail businesses must keep a laser focus on the busiest season of the year. The final months of the year are filled with shipping deadlines, peak shopping days and peak return days. Beyond capitalizing on profits, businesses can get an early start making decisions about stock replenishment, holiday marketing and return communications—all by using the calendar below.1 Print it, bookmark it or download it for easy access in the busy season ahead.
Shipping - Article | 2-min. read
Align Marketing and Logistics Operations for Holiday Season Success
The holidays can be stressful for retailers: The marketing department pushes out promotions while the logistics staff fills an influx of orders, all to meet end-of-year sales goals. Regardless of the size of your marketing and logistics departments—whether each is one person or many—collaboration is key. Without communication between the two, you risk compromising the customer experience and, ultimately, sales.
Instead of working in silos, both departments should have regular, open communication as they prepare for and work through the holidays. Having all of your staff aligned is crucial to holiday fulfillment success. Here are four common problems your company can solve when marketing and logistics work in harmony.
If your marketing staff promotes items without discussing the deals with the logistics department, there may not be enough product to fulfill the orders. That means excited customers will see “Sold Out” or “Out of Stock” notifications and potentially drop off your site, or will have to be told later that their order cannot be shipped in time or at all.
To solve this problem, look early at year-over-year (YOY) sales and predicted seasonal market trends. By sharing this data between marketing and logistics staff, fulfillment centers can be appropriately stocked and promotions will run smoothly in accordance to what you have.
Inevitably, customers will attempt to order items last minute, and expect them to be delivered in time for the holidays. This can be a problem if your store guarantees in-time arrival without considering shipping dates. A lack of communication between the marketing and logistics departments could result in unforeseen overtime hours (and pay) for employees. To ensure that products arrive on time and customer expectations are met, you may also incur surprise express shipping costs.
Have the logistics staff share the shipping deadlines with the marketing department before the shopping season begins. That way, promotions and alerts can inform customers of cutoff dates for in-time delivery. This simple internal discussion helps marketing avoid overpromising and letting customers down in the future.
Busy Customer Support Lines
If your departments aren’t communicating, things will fall through the cracks and the customers will suffer. Whether it’s a question about return policies or a complaint about an out-of-stock product, customers will reach out for support. If your line of support—phone, email, web chat, etc.—is understaffed to handle these incoming requests, your customers will grow more dissatisfied and may not order, purchase or shop with your business again.
Talk with your logistics staff and shipping partners ahead of time so your marketing employees can publicize things like return policies or shipping deadlines in advance. This information can live on the order page of your website, and as a digital banner or pop-up reminder as the date approaches. With more transparency from end to end, fewer issues should arise, allowing for a nimbler support team.
Understaffed store. Down website. Unresponsive customer support line. These are all easy ways to lose sales—and can all result from a lack of communication between the marketing and logistics departments.
Share predicted traffic and sales goals with both stakeholders, and staff up as needed. With more sales associates in store to assist customers and more web staff on call in case of an unsustainable boost in traffic, you can confidently go into the holiday season with less worry.
As you begin preparing for the holiday season, remember to involve all key stakeholders from marketing and logistics, as well as others like sales and finance. With a well-rounded planning team in place, you will be able to set realistic expectations for your business and end the holiday shopping season on top.
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