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.

Oversold Products

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.

Last-Minute Orders

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.

Failing Infrastructures

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.

Key Takeaway

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.

6 Helpful Tips for Working with List Brokers

Finding the right mailing list for your direct mail campaign can spell the difference between success or failure. If you’re looking to acquire new customers, working with a mailing list broker is key. List owners are individuals who own mailing lists with valuable contact information. List brokers are individuals who connect list owners with companies looking to rent their mailing list. Consider the following tips when working with these professionals to create the best mailing list for your needs.

  1. 1

    Know your target audience.

    It’s crucial to know what persona you want to reach with your campaign. Consider the age, gender, household income and hobbies of the customers you want to acquire. This information will help your list broker find the most applicable list for your purposes.

  2. 2

    Know what type of mailing list you need.

    There are two types of mailing lists your broker could show you: a response list and a compiled list. A response list is comprised of individuals who have made purchases or responded to marketing efforts in the past. A compiled list is comprised of contact information pulled from various public domains like credit files and county tax assessor files; it includes individuals who fit a certain demographic, but haven’t made any purchases. Naturally, since responders have shown interest in the products you’re selling or made similar purchases in the past, response lists are more expensive and should produce better response rates.

  3. 3

    Know the size of your mailing.

    The size of your mailing will dictate the ultimate price of renting a list, so consider how many people you want to reach. Is it important for you to reach a wide swath of individuals through a compiled list or reach a smaller group of responders who have made similar purchases in the past? Collaborate with your list broker to decide which kind of list would work best for you.

  4. 4

    Know the timing of your campaign.

    Finding a list broker and a mailing list takes time. When deciding direct mail campaign deadlines, bake in time for list exploration. That way, if you’re aiming to mail your piece before a popular shopping season like the holidays, you won’t miss your time window searching for a list. Have your deadlines in mind when you reach out to your list broker. This will keep you both on track.

  5. 5

    Understand the terms of your list agreement.

    List agreements are contracts that state the limits of your rental agreement. Typically, they say that your company can only use the contact information one time. However, if you convert some of the contacts on the list into customers, their information becomes yours, and they technically become part of your house list.

  6. 6

    Understand the cost of renting your list.

    Mailing lists are usually priced by every 1,000 contacts, with a minimum charge for use. Lists also typically have no services fees, as they are included in the cost. When deciding which mailing list is right for you consider the price and quality of contact information. If the contact list fits your target audience and the price is within budget, you’ve found the list for you.

In Summary

Working with a list broker is a time-sensitive, time-intensive process, but it’s an important part of a direct mail campaign. Do your research and come prepared with your persona, campaign timeline, budget and more. The more information you have ready for your list broker, the easier and more successful your list exploration process will be.