COVID-19 (Coronavirus) - 5874 Business Continuity

Optimising the fulfillment process during the peak season

7 mins

Planning for the holidays in September? Is your eCommerce site ready for the holiday season? You can never start too early! From back to school and Black Friday, to Cyber Monday, the Christmas rush, and January sales, it is essential that merchants stay on top of their supply chain and prepare for this manic period.

Because of the surge in online activity during the coronavirus pandemic, consumers have had more time to research, discover, and make assumptions and opinions about different product variants. Merchants will need to keep up with this enhanced digital-first mentality.

What trends have emerged from the coronavirus pandemic that could affect holiday season optimisation?

  • Huge push in supporting independent business/use of marketplaces
  • Consumers have increased user awareness as they have been purchasing from the comfort of their homes.
  • No need to use the highstreet
  • Merchants can learn from the preferences/data collected during the lockdown

Back office systems help with the management of the supply chain, ensuring seamless operational control that effectively. Fulfillment is quickly becoming the key differentiator for both sellers and consumers alike during peak season.

How to optimise fulfillment during the holiday season

Managing Your Inventory

Using a retail management software, such as Brightpearl, allows you to automate processes in the back office. Putting orders, inventory, financials, POS, and CRM in one central location allows you to remain organised, focussed, and manage a streamlined business and operational strategy. You should also consider planning for early replenishments so that your items don’t go out of stock.

Delivery Process

Have customer expectations relaxed in terms of what they deem an acceptable delivery time? Or is there just a greater expectation of transparency in relation to the delivery process? Retailers need to be honest and straightforward about logistics and the whereabouts of products. There could also be potential delays due to the saturated sales period. It is fundamental that you should always consider a type of “Business Plan for Disasters” that rectifies these potential challenges.

Shipping Expectations

  • Customer delivery preferences and expectations changing
  • Shoppers want quick and low-cost delivery
  • Merchants need to evaluate their shipping strategy

Returns Process

Merchants should implement a realistic returns policy that still aligns with customer expectations. This should be agreed and in effect prior to the holiday or peak season beginning, so that any anomalies or challenges can be resolved.

As powerful as reviews can be, any negative feedback can be hugely detrimental to a business and its reputation. It’s also likely that if customers aren’t happy with your level of service offering, they’ll take their cash and spend it with a competitor.

Customer Service

There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’ve been neglected as a customer. Make sure your business contact details are easily accessible wherever your visitors are on your site and consider adding a detailed, comprehensive, and easily visible FAQ section. This will help customers find answers to their queries without hassle.

Other options include having a Live chat or dedicated call centre phone number or email with support agents ready to help with queries.

Customer Satisfaction

This can be affected in a number of ways. If there are errors in fulfillment and returns that need to be actioned, customers can grow frustrated and impatient. The complaints process needs to be slick and hassle-free. At the point where a customer is filing a complaint, they are already unhappy with the service provided for one reason or another. Retailers should acknowledge and not challenge the issue, offer support, and then implement a flexible resolution process, so as to not run the risk of losing the customer permanently.

If you need help optimising your fulfillment process, don’t wait! Plan ahead to reduce stress and strengthen your strategy before crunch time. Contact us by calling 0121 369 5874 or emailing success@5874commerce.com

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