Prepare For Holiday Fulfillment

Prepare For Holiday Fulfillment

September 25, 2018 Off By Jack Sawyer

It is September, which may seem a touch early to start to prepare for holiday fulfillment, but with a strong economy…we are all stressed out just thinking about it. There is always a lot of money to be made in the “golden quarter” (October-December) and this year eCommerce Holiday sales are projected to be in the neighborhood of $460 Billion, so it may be wise to start looking ahead. What should you expect? And how can you prepare for holiday fulfillment?

Oh Yes, There Will Be Bundles

This is the best time of the year for eCommerce folks to bundle their offerings. Bundling is a great way to increase sales, get rid of old inventory, promote a brand, and put an immense amount of pressure of your fulfillment network. No matter where you lie in the supply chain (3PL, eCommerce, Distribution Center, etc.) you are going to see a lot of bundles this Christmas.

How do you prepare?

Well there are a few things to consider. First, you need a warehouse and order management system that is capable of bundling and kitting on the fly. Second, you need inventory translators. Inventory translators match selling channel SKUs with Fulfillment center SKUs. In other words, if you are a 3PL preparing for holiday fulfillment, you want to make sure what you put in the box is what your client sold. This means that if your client is adding specialty packaging, an add-on gift, or kit all of that information is translated to you. When the order comes in you will know exactly what items to pick and pack. Lastly, prepare your warehouse staff. Let them know that some/many/most/all of your shipments will have extra parts.

Temporarily Change Up Your Warehouse Layout to Prepare for Holiday Fulfillment

Time to put the summer tank tops on the back shelf and bring the Santa hats to the front of the warehouse. You do not need to make any major changes, but to prepare for holiday fulfillment it is a lot easier if the majority of the orders you ship come from shelves by your packaging station.

How do you prepare?

It may take a bit of time to coordinate the change, but fortunately the Shipedge WMS makes it very easy to move things around your warehouse. You can do so seamlessly with our software and it will make your 4th quarter bottom line very happy.

Open Shelves to New Customers

If you have any open space at all, then now is the perfect time to start onboarding new clients. When it comes time to prepare for Holiday Fulfillment, it is a numbers game. Even if you add only a few new clients, that could mean thousands of dollars.

How do you prepare?

Well while you are re-organizing your warehouse look for space. Consolidate where you can, push boxes together where you can, and consider adding more shelves if you have space. Even if you are not a 3PL you can take advantage of holiday fulfillment by offering to send out orders for other companies. I know it is easier said than done, but pick up the phone and call a couple local folks who may need some help this holiday season. This may be the first holiday season for a younger eCommerce company and they have no idea what is in store for them. Save their Christmas.

Lock Down Your Process

If you are a current Shipedge customer, then you know that we do this year round. But even with a near perfect system, any cracks in your process can become gaping canyons if you put enough pressure on them. This means you need to keep tight schedules for your staff and your shipments. Speed and organization are the name of the game.

How do you prepare?

Well first and foremost, you are probably already doing a great job monitoring your kingdom, but now is a good time to make sure. Consider your staff, where there is room for improvement, and what you can be doing better. Most of the time, it can be as simple as making sure everything is organized at the end of the day, but it may also mean rotating your staff or completely reorganizing.

Hire Staff

The good news is that with a strong warehouse management system or order management system, the onboarding time does not have to take long. With the Shipedge mobile app you can have novices keeping up even in the most stressful hours of holiday fulfillment.

How do you prepare?

Hire and train quickly. The good news is that the hard part is finding good help.

Be Firm With Your Cut-Off Times

We all know that at some point, not even a wizard can get an order to a customer before Christmas. You have cut-off times for a reason and it is important that your clients understand this.

How do you prepare?

If you are a 3PL doing holiday fulfillment, then send weekly messages to your clients to remind them of your cut-off times. They need to make sure you have all of the inventory you need to fulfill orders and they need to understand that there is a point when you can do no more.

Dedicate Staff to Returns and Exchanges

You should expect a monumental influx of returned items this year. It may seem like more is coming back than is going out at some points. If your dock gets clogged with inbound shipments, then it is going to get clogged with outbound shipments as well. Mistakes happen and they happen twice as often when you introduce chaos into the situation.

How do you prepare? 

Take your best warehouse employee to head up a returns team. This team’s job is to make it seem like nothing is coming back. Speed and accuracy are the names of the game. It may not be as fun as getting to play with the tape, but if you can count on smooth returns then you will reap the benefits.

If you need more information on how to prepare for holiday fulfillment with Shipedge, you can contact us here.