In 2020, Cyber Week—the five-day period from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday—broke all kinds of eCommerce records. While there’s no question that this spike in sales was at least partially a result of consumer worries about COVID-19 concerns, these record-breaking sales are only a continuation of climbing online sales during the peak holiday shopping season.
One study analyzing 1 trillion site visits and 100 million SKUs from 80 of the 100 largest retailers in the U.S. shared that consumers spent a record $34.4 billion during Cyber Week; a 20.7 percent year-over-year increase. What’s more is that in 2020, holiday season retail eCommerce sales were projected to account for 18.8 percent of total retail revenues. There’s no question that a successful Cyber Week is vital to online retailers’ success.
Cyber Week is a very busy time for online retailers and eCommerce brands. There’s a lot at stake. But high order volumes and record-breaking sales shouldn’t be cause for stress or chaos when it comes to fulfillment. Here’s what you need to know to tackle Cyber Week this year.
1. Stress Test Your System
On Cyber Monday 2020, consumers spent $12 million per minute during the busiest selling hour of the day. Between 7 P.M. and 11 P.M. Pacific Time alone, consumers spent $2.7 billion. A downed sales platform—even just for a few minutes during this important time—can lead to major losses, consumer frustrations, and a damaged reputation. Now is the time to start testing your system to ensure it’s capable of scaling with you when sales ramp up during Cyber Week.
OceanX’s Bridge Platform can capture as many as 100 orders per second and connects in under 90 milliseconds.
2. Take a Look at Your Data
Do you have enough inventory to avoid stockouts and backorders? And is that inventory being sent to the right fulfillment center to ship it quickly, efficiently, and affordably? Work with your fulfillment provider to analyze your data and examine what you’ll need and where it needs to go. This includes accounting for things like:
- Additional product that will be part of a bundle or special promotion
- Location of your customers and their buying patterns
- Additional working capital like holiday boxes, mailers, packaging, and marketing inserts
- Having the right number of fulfillment lines and accompanying workers to meet demand
At OceanX, data and inventory forecasting are fully-integrated, essential components to what we do. We work with our clients to ensure we’ve accounted for demand, location, and more, and can even give you access to additional fulfillment centers to keep up with your holiday sales.
3. Consider Your Carriers
Between the first and second quarters of 2020, U.S. eCommerce sales rose by 31.8 percent, leading to all kinds of backlogs for carriers like FedEx, UPS, the U.S. Postal System, and DHL to keep up. Again during the holiday season, retailers faced logistic and shipping challenges during the biggest digital sales season ever.
Thanks to the increase in eCommerce orders during the holiday season, some carriers added surge charges to ship their orders, adding additional fees to stock inventory and ship to customers. These kinds of shipping costs can add up, so to prepare for Cyber Week and the entire holiday shopping season, online retailers need to be transparent with their third-party logistics (3PL) providers to come up with viable, efficient shipping options this holiday season.
OceanX works with a wide variety of national and regional carriers to make shipping fast and affordable.
4. Reexamine Returns Logistics
Cyber Week may not bring to mind returns right away, but returns are a normal part of the eCommerce buying process. Somewhere between 15 and 40 percent of all online orders are returned, which means that a spike in sales will likely also equate to a spike in returns. Talk with your 3PL partner about ways to streamline your return shipping and processing. You should consider the following:
- Can you enhance the customer experience?
- Can you eliminate waste of returned products?
- Can you find a way to reduce the costs of return shipping?
- Can you find sustainable ways to deal with incoming returns?
OceanX is an integral part of the entire fulfillment process from start to finish, and that includes streamlining and simplifying returns and making them more affordable and more sustainable.
5. Plan for Mishaps
What happens if a large shipment arrives at one of your fulfillment centers and much of the product has been damaged in transit? What should you do if a high-level team member at a fulfillment center becomes sick? Who should your fulfillment partner contact in case of questions?
Establishing the answers to these questions, and any questions that may arise from the beginning to the end of the fulfillment process means that there’s a plan in place if something goes wrong. While it’s not fun to think about the worst-case scenario during a time as crucial as Cyber Week, it’s a lot easier than dealing with problems without advanced planning.
OceanX has over 3 decades of experience working with direct-to-consumer (DTC) and eCommerce brands. We’ve seen and dealt with it all and can advise you on the best solutions in case things go wrong.
6. Communicate with Your Fulfillment Partner
More than anything else? Planning for Cyber Week should absolutely involve communication with your 3PL provider. They’ll benefit from knowing things like your shipping expectations, desired unboxing experience, sales forecasts, and more. Share everything you can with your fulfillment partner about what you need, what you expect, and what you have planned. They can help make Cyber Week a breeze—if they’re clued into what you want and need. This should include information like:
- Planned sales and promotions
- Any kits or bundles
- Details from your marketing teams
- Seasonal changes to packaging
- And more
When in doubt? Communicate!
Because of innovative tools like Bridge by OceanX, the fulfillment partner is already keyed into your everyday operations, making it easier to plan for peak sale times like Cyber Week.
At OceanX, we’re committed to helping our clients all year round, working to make our fulfillment processes a seamless part of your existing sales solutions and current operations. Everything we do is designed to optimize your work and create memorable, lasting positive experiences for your customers.
Discover more about how we can become an integral part of your Cyber Week success plan by contacting us today!