Are your eCommerce brand’s operations ready for the Cyber Week peak?
The sheer volume of orders and number of items sold during Cyber Week makes the five days the busiest, most intense week for online retailers. In fact, during the peak hour of Cyber Monday 2020, which happened from 8:00 PM to 9:00 PM, the buying rate hit $12 million per minute.
What’s more? The last four hours of Cyber Monday 2020 were actually the busiest, accounting for 25 percent of the total revenue from that day, and the average order volume for the total day increased by 17 percent from the year before.
Cyber Week may still be months away, but now is the time to start planning to ensure that your brand is ready to handle everything that’s thrown your way.
Take a Deep Look at Your Fulfillment Processes
Are there vulnerabilities in your fulfillment process? Your order capturing technologies need to be ready to consistently and continuously take on more orders throughout Cyber Week.
But there’s more to fulfillment than just order capturing. You’ll also want to consider:
- The reliability of shipment tracking and how you’ll communicate tracking information with customers
- Whether or not you have enough product, packaging materials, marketing collateral, and other working capital to meet an increase in demand
- If your inventory management technologies are functioning correctly
From the moment of placing an order to the time the final package arrives at your customer’s doorstep, each step in the fulfillment process needs to go off without a hitch for a successful Cyber Week. This means that now is the time to examine each step to see where issues might pop up, or where you and your fulfillment partner can make improvements in your fulfillment process.
Communicate with Your Fulfillment Partner
While you may have already given thought to things like your sales, promotions, and packaging inserts for Cyber Week, your third-party logistics (3PL) provider needs to know this information too. The more information your fulfillment partner has, the better. This includes information like:
- Inventory and sale forecasting
- Holiday changes in packaging or inserts
- New marketing materials you’ll be using
- Any planned kits or bundling promotions
- Additional products you’ll be selling
- Promotions on certain products and other discounts
A supportive, prepared fulfillment partner will take all the necessary steps to ensure they are just as ready as you are to take on the surge in sales during the peak of Cyber Week. They may choose to hire additional staff, take preparatory steps to get product ready for fulfillment, and make sure their systems and equipment are all equipped to handle the specific needs of your Cyber Week sales at the scale you need.
Depending on your forecasted sales or unique needs based on the product you are selling, your fulfillment provider may even suggest making use of an additional fulfillment center to meet demand and have product ready to ship at locations closer to your customers to reduce shipping time and costs.
But all of these steps can only happen if your 3PL partner is as clued into your Cyber Week plans, marketing strategies, and any anticipated changes as you are.
Hope for the Best, But Plan for the Worst
It’s likely that during Cyber Week, you’ll be taking on more orders than at any other time of the year. On Cyber Monday 2020 alone, U.S. shoppers spent $10.8 billion, making it the largest online shopping day in retail history.
All these incoming orders will be great for your bottom line, but you also don’t want to lose any orders during or after Cyber Week because of errors, technical issues, or a poor customer experience. It’s wise to have a contingency plan in place for any step in the fulfillment process where things have the potential to go wrong. This includes:
- Ensuring your software is equipped to take on a high volume of sales every second
- Making plans for if/when high-level employees in your fulfillment center get sick
- Having a solution in case inventory arrives at the fulfillment center and has been damaged
- Knowing what will happen if you have even more incoming orders than expected and you need to add more fulfillment lines
- Planning for any technical issues with incoming orders
- Establishing who your fulfillment partner should contact if they run into any problems
While an experienced fulfillment provider will have suggested solutions for all of these challenges, your brand isn’t like any other brand, and you may want to approach problem-solving differently in the event something goes wrong during the most intense part of Cyber Week. A disaster plan is the best way to know you have everything covered, no matter what.
Solidify Your Returns Process Ahead of Time
While you may not be getting as many returns during Cyber Week, you’re likely to get returns in the weeks and months that follow, and you’ll need a plan in place to handle this process. Now is the time to examine whether your reverse logistics operations can be streamlined, if you can lower the costs of return shipping and processing, if you can enhance the customer’s experience dealing with returns, or if you can eliminate waste.
Many consumers don’t realize the following facts about returns:
- A decent number of online retailers end up throwing away 25 percent of returned items, which results in about 5 billion pounds of goods being added to landfills every year.
- The average return costs 59 percent of the original price of the item.
Before Cyber Week sales start rolling out (and the subsequent returns start rolling back in), you should take a hard look at how your fulfillment partner handles reverse logistics. This includes considerations like:
- Why returns happen in the first place
- How you monitor and track your reverse supply chain
- What your return policies are
- What technologies you have in place to handle large volumes of returns efficiently
OceanX: Your True Partner in Cyber Week Fulfillment
From our fulfillment center processes to the technology that incorporates seamlessly with your existing sales solutions, everything that OceanX does is designed to optimize the fulfillment process so it’s as seamless and effortless as possible—even during Cyber Week.
Learn more about how we’ll:
- Provide analytics, forecasting, and invaluable data
- Maximize the efficiency of your fulfillment operations
- Use technology to make fulfillment simpler and faster than ever
- Anticipate, plan for, and conquer issues
Connect with our team today to see how OceanX becomes an integral part of your brand’s success all year long, especially during Cyber Week.