This post first featured in ‘The Essential Guide to Fulfilment – Are Your Logistics Future Fit?’ published in association with PHL. To read the full ebook click here, or scroll to the end of the page to view on page-turning software.
Retailers that benefit most from peak periods are those that prepare in advance. However, in the midst of COVID-19, Brexit and a recession, uncertainty has caused countless setbacks and challenges for those in the world of retail.
As such, upcoming peak periods in the retail calendar are expected to be a little different, requiring ecommerce businesses to plan their fulfilment strategies with this in mind.
In order to capitalise on the likes of Black Friday and Christmas, retailers are now under pressure to perform, overcoming uncertainty to deliver an experience that will turn shoppers into loyal customers.
These top tips will help you to design a bulletproof fulfilment strategy, enabling you to take on peak season with confidence.
Prepare early for peak
The first step is to give yourself as much time as possible to get everything organised. Unpredictability has hit every business and this means there may be delays in communication and other unexpected hurdles to overcome. Start to prepare for peak as soon as possible, to ensure you have plenty of time to make alternative arrangements and adapt existing processes if required.
Speak with partners
Take time to speak with your partners, understanding anything you should be aware of such as extended delivery times or delays. As an example, many warehouses are having to enforce social distancing, causing fulfilment processes to be elongated. Knowing this ahead of times gives you the opportunity to make adaptations as required ahead of peak times.
Optimise your fulfilment strategy
You should optimise your fulfilment strategy, making sure you and your fulfilment partner are aligned. Working with a fulfilment partner that is familiar with peak periods and has experienced a wide range of challenges, requirements and levels of demand, helps to ensure that the process is as smooth as possible.
Be prepared to scale up or down
It may be difficult to determine demand at the moment, but being prepared to scale up or down as required during peak is vital in managing this effectively. Choose a fulfilment partner that is able to meet your requirements and facilitate any changes required.
Make the process as simple and straightforward as possible, for your own benefit as well as your customers’. To do this, make sure you understand the fulfilment process and timescales for delivery.
Stay on top of your orders
Any experienced fulfilment company will be familiar with this, but in order to be prepared for peak, you must be fully aware of where every single order is, keeping on top of stock, demand and shipping.
Shout about your delivery strategy and returns policy
Customers want to know what to expect, so make sure you market your delivery strategy. This should include giving in-depth information about shipping, as well as your store’s returns policy.
Communication is key, whether you’re messaging to thank a customer for placing an order, updating them about the status of their delivery, or informing them of a delay. With the unpredictability of the industry at the moment, it is well worth preparing to provide delivery updates, keeping customers informed, in case there are any unforeseen delays. This will bring benefits during peak periods as well as throughout the rest of the year. After all, communication makes the difference when it comes to delivering a first class customer experience and securing returning customers.
Upcoming peak periods are expected to be significantly busier, due to the recent rise of ecommerce. Stock forecasts should take the lockdown period into account, making sure you are prepared for any additional demand. Speak to your suppliers to discuss their expectations, understanding any changes to lead-times and deliveries so you know exactly what to expect. In addition to this, stock forecasting can help you to anticipate and plan for any additional storage and packaging that may be required.
Why Operational Efficiency Is Vital for Growing Brands
Case Study – Nimble Babies
Nimble Babies is an award-winning range of plant-based cleaning products. Free of harsh chemicals and allergens its Milk Buster technology has recently won the BBC’s ‘The Customer is Always Right’ award. Featured on Dragon’s Den and in the Our Royal Baby book, Nimble has built a reputation as an enterprising and Go-getting Company.
As part of an ambitious business plan, they launched an online shop, www.nimblebabies.co.uk. For this, Nimble Babies required a forward-thinking partner to streamline their order fulfilment and logistics. Matching their zeal for innovation and growth by;
- Building a fulfilment solution around Nimble Babies’ business model and objectives – What could be more efficient than a process that has been purpose-built? Not only understanding where they are now, but where they want to be in 5 or 10 years.
- Offering efficiency-enhancing technologies – Our Order Management System has been custom-built for multichannel retailers like Nimble Babies. Acting as the backbone to their business it will forecast sales and stock requirements, consolidate customer orders, manage returns and provide powerful customer insight.
- Being a one-stop-shop for all their logistics – PHL manages Nimble Babies’ B2B and B2C orders, providing a simple and easy to use ordering system without the need to talk to multiple departments or points of contact. We also manage their Amazon FBA orders, building product bundles that are exclusive to Amazon.
- Giving cost-saving, expert advice – Having worked in logistics for over 20 years, we proactively apply our knowledge to help save Nimble Babies both time and money around the storage and movement of goods.
- Providing a customer service led approach – PHL fully supported Nimble Babies through the COVID-19 crisis, managing customer emails, helping with additional product tests during manufacture and making sure orders still went out despite the many challenges and business disruptions.
At PHL, we believe improving efficiency should not focus on cost alone. Employee well-being and customer satisfaction can also get a boost from a sleek business model. When managing your fulfilment, PHL maximises the resources that are vital to your company’s success, time, money, services, and knowledge.
We can provide a commitment-free consultation to see how PHL could tailor your logistics to improve operational efficiency and grow your business. To schedule your 15-minute discovery call click HERE.
Read the full version of ‘The Essential Guide to Fulfilment – Are Your Logistics Future Fit?’ below.