Seasonal e-commerce is growing, making up nearly 15% of total holiday retail. As sales climb, shipping volume increases as well, creating a need for quicker, more efficient operations.
In this article, we’ll dive into the order fulfillment process for online holiday sales, helping you get your orders to customers as quickly and efficiently as possible so you can make the most of the next holiday shopping period.
First, we’ll show you how to evaluate your last holiday season so you can identify ways to lower costs and better meet your customers’ needs going forward. Next, we’ll guide you in analyzing your company’s inventory management process, as well as packaging, shipping and returns. Finally, we’ll help you take a closer look at your shipping data and warehouse tech.
Working through these steps to create a detailed plan of action can help you save time and money, create more efficient operations and better prepare you for holiday seasons ahead—all while building customer loyalty.
Take a Look Back
To fix a problem, first you have to identify it. So, let’s begin with some basic questions on last year’s package-delivery system performance:
Receiving, storing, picking and replenishing stock
- Did bottlenecks prevent goods from flowing smoothly from trucks to your warehouse or shipping-room floor?
- Were there times when your warehouse was overstaffed or understaffed?
- Was it easy for workers to find the right products and package them quickly?
Packaging, shipping and handling returns
- Did shipping costs for lightweight products cost more than you expected?
- Were you surprised by unexpected surcharges on your shipping invoice?
- Was your returns process as efficient as possible for both you and your customers?
Crunching the numbers
- Do you know what it cost you on average to process an order?
- How much did carrier surcharges add to the cost of each package shipped?
- Did you keep track of the percentage of packages shipped on time?
- How much did you spend on returns?
Working smarter with technology
- Did your technology perform as well as you thought it should?
- Would upgrading your warehouse management system pay off in more efficient operations?
- Would barcoding or radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags improve shipping accuracy and customer experience?
Key Steps to Holiday Shipping Success
Dive into each of these issues in more detail as we walk through the four key steps to a successful holiday shipping season.
Keep processes simple so new employees can get up to speed quickly.
A few extra touches can help turn your package into a marketing tool.
Analyze, Decide and Implement
You’ve looked at warehouse organization, packing, shipping, returns, KPIs and technology. Now it’s time to create a plan and put it in action. Take some time to create a list of the changes you need to make to ensure a successful holiday shipping season. Then outline a detailed plan for getting there, week by week, month by month.
The USPS holiday trend report can provide further guidance as you begin laying the groundwork.
By taking a careful look at last year’s holiday shipping processes—and examining ways to control costs while serving your customers more effectively—you can help ensure success for the many busy seasons ahead.
- Mastercard 2019 SpendingPulse™ Holiday E-commerce Report, Mastercard, 2019.