For years consumers increasingly intermingled online and in-store shopping during the holiday season, making an omnichannel experience a necessity for retailers across every industry. In fact, in 2019, the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics reported a record 190 million U.S. consumers shopped during cyber-week, with nearly 75% of consumers making online purchases.
There’s no denying that eCommerce has transformed consumer shopping habits, especially with many consumers adjusting purchase behaviors after months of cooperating with ‘safer at home’ measures. And while the increase in online shopping has been convenient for consumers, the surge has created challenges for supply chains and fulfillment operations to keep up with the demand.
As brands begin to prepare for cyber week 2020, it’s clear they are preparing for what is going to be the highest-grossing cyber week in history. To maintain the increase in demand, we recommend taking the three steps listed below to set your brand up for success.
Step #1: Talk to your marketing department to prepare for forecasted sales
Cross-team communication is not always easily accessible, but it’s essential to creating a seamless experience for customers, especially those purchasing items online. Your operations team must communicate with marketing to understand the forecast of sales, and which products are expected to sell the highest quantity. Knowing the forecasted amount of sales will ensure fulfillment operations are ready with the proper inventory, storage space, system integrations, working capital, and more.
Some questions to consider asking your marketing team include the following:
- What are the ‘special offers’ planned for cyber-week?
- Is there a price threshold inventive? Ex. ‘Spend $100 and receive free shipping.’
- Is there a bundle incentive? Ex. ‘Buy five nail polishes and receive one for free.’
- Will specific products go on sale?
- Is there a plan to launch a new product?
Understanding these items will help your operations team prepare fulfillment lines, staff training, and packing requirements.
Step #2: Talk to your marketing department about the desired ‘customer experience.’
During this exciting buying cycle, your brand will want to create a memorable experience for your customers. This experience goes beyond ensuring accurate and on-time deliveries, taking into account the unboxing experience and incentives to turn first-time buyers into long-term customers.
At a high-level, we’ve listed some items your operations team will need to consider to ensure your brand provides a great customer experience.
- Unboxing Experience:
- If your packaging will look different to reflect the holiday season
- If collateral will be included to entice first-time customers to purchase from you again
- If sample products or flyers will be included in the package
- Shipping Expectations:
- The duration of time expected for customers to receive their packages
- How to communicate delivery updates with customers
- Accurate orders are delivered
- Customer Service
- How will returns be processed
- How can customers communicate lost shipment
- If/how refunds will be provided
Step #3 – Collaborate with your 3PL to prep for the big week
If your brand expects a significant increase in volume for cyber-week, the number one thing you should be doing is asking your 3PL to do a stress test. A stress test will test operations across various dimensions to identify where processes are most vulnerable to unanticipated shifts. The aspects include order capturing, inventory management, tracking of shipments, and working capital. Working capital presents a few unique challenges this year as the state of the country with COVID-19 must be considered. Employees will need to be trained on how to handle the product and maintain social distancing while maintaining service level agreements.
Keep in mind, no matter how much testing you do, you and your 3PL must also create a ‘disaster plan.’ This plan is put in place to discuss what should occur, and who should be contacted, in the event something goes array.
Some examples to prepare for include the following:
- Trained employees becoming sick
- Damaged inventory arriving at the fulfillment warehouse
- Technical issues receiving orders
- The need to add fulfillment lines to accommodated unexpected orders
Discussing a ‘worst-case scenario’ plan will ensure your fulfillment operations are prepared for anything thrown their way.
Are you worried your fulfillment operations will fail to deliver during cyber-week?
If you have concerns with your current fulfillment operations, and cyber-week is a big week for your brand, you should give us a call. Our team and fulfillment technology can get you live and stable before the holiday season arrives.
Click on the links below to learn more about how OceanX can help scale fulfillment operations before Cyber-Week arrives:
- Request a quote for our modern fulfillment solution. (We may be able to help you save up to 30% on postage).
- Speak to one of our team members to learn more about OceanX, and the services we offer.
- Watch a video of our Modern Fulfillment Solution in action!
- Case Study: How We Help a DTC Giant During Cyber Week 2019