Peak Shopping Season Planning for Friction-Free Fulfillment

    Peak shopping season is right around the corner. Most businesses have a different understanding of planning following 2020; however, through challenges the most successful entrepreneurs learn to grow and adapt. And they understand that just because sometimes you have to deviate from a plan in the spur of the moment, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a strong one in place, and several more in your back pocket.


    If you’re on top of things, with peak shopping season on the horizon, you’ve already placed orders for merchandise and are busy planning your holiday promotions and marketing campaigns. Additionally, it is vital you don’t forget about prepping your fulfillment operations for peak season.


    What your 3PL needs to know

    To prep for 2021’s peak shopping season, ask yourself what worked and what didn’t work last year. Have you made, or will you be making, any changes in operations, apps, or technology that your fulfillment provider should know about? Do you have an efficient returns policy, authorization, and tracking system in place? Is there anything your fulfillment provider could be doing differently to help you? As you prep for peak shopping season, these are the three main areas you need to ensure are operating at their best capacity: 


    1. Merchandising
    •   Product assortment, including new items by volume and number of SKUs
    •   Bundling or kitting needs
    •   Packaging and labeling
    •   Incoming freight timing and handling
    •   Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions, as well as any other promotions during the season
    •   Volume forecast for each
    •   How to handle out-of-stock issues
    •   How to handle returns


    1. Information Technology
    •   Order management processes/changes/upgrades
    •   Returns authorization, tracking, and refunds
    •   Omnichannel order and inventory management
    •   Shipping options and order prioritization


    1. Logistics
    •   Flexibility in staffing and shipping to accommodate spikes
    •   Shifting inventory locations to take advantage of local or regional shipping services
    •   Tracking and reporting
    •   Performance expectations and KPI’s
    •   Contingency plans


    Time is short

    As most businesses learned in 2020, no matter how well you plan, there aren’t any guarantees. Now in 2021, entrepreneurs must be constantly vigilant of supply chain issues and shipping delays, which could mean much longer lead times than normal. If your 3PL was thinking ahead, they may have already built in the space and flexibility you need to accommodate this, but in the best interest of your business, be sure to review all three of the above areas. And remember, the sooner you share your peak shopping season plans with your partners the better. So don’t delay in making sure your fulfillment needs are being properly taken care of!