As the holidays approach, preparation is key to a successful shipping season this year more than ever. Online retail purchases are expected to grow 18.5% due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If your team isn’t prepared, it can lead to a stressful peak shipping season. How are you preparing your warehouse and team to create a less hectic holiday period?
For unprepared retailers, higher volumes of holiday orders during the coronavirus can quickly spiral out of control. If you haven't built a solid plan, lined up extra staff, bought additional packaging, or established relationships with the right carriers, then partners and customers can be left frustrated with delayed or damaged goods. You also risk losing valuable repeat business and damaging your word of mouth as the economy tries to recover.
That's not exactly the impression you want to leave when you have the best chance to generate loyalty with great experiences. At Pacejet, we want to make sure companies remember that the space between the shipping dock and the customer determines your success. Read on to see our holiday shipping tips to help you get your operations in order this holiday season, hopefully avoiding potential pitfalls along the way.
You should start thinking about preparation in basic terms. How many more staff members will you need to fulfill orders based on your projections over the holidays? What kind of roles will you need, and how long will you need them? What shipping times can you expect during the pandemic with a high volume of online orders?
Consider your inventory list – look at your most popular items and be sure you have enough stock available to cater to rising demand. And if you're a toy supplier, be extra careful because no one wants a disappointed kid this holiday season. With more orders to fulfill, check you have sufficient packaging on hand, including boxes of various sizes, labels, tape, filler, etc. If you need extra workstations or printers installed, contact your shipping partner now (if you use Pacejet, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org).
Multiple shipping options
The holiday season will be a demanding time for both you and your carriers. And although orders will be flying in, your customers will still expect efficient delivery.
Check with your current carriers to ensure they have multiple shipping options available, or make sure you have a diversified carrier plan that covers what might be needed. Customers should be able to choose from various delivery dates, and each selection should be cost-effective for both you and your customers.
With this in mind, making the right carrier choice is essential to your success this season. Your carriers need to be reliable and efficient while also being low-cost and sensitive to your profit margins. A new element that can impact this comes in the form of holiday surcharges, like those announced by UPS, FedEx, and USPS. Make sure you are aware of any new seasonal fees that could surprise you and your customers.
By utilizing rate shopping within Pacejet and saving up to 20% on your rates, you can pass part of these savings on to your customers and offset seasonal peak charges. We meet many customers who start with one or two carriers and don't realize the savings available to them until they turn on rate shopping in Pacejet as well as add carriers into their portfolio.
Have a look at our extensive list of carriers to find the best carrier for your expected volume, area, and budget this holiday season. If you aren't sure or would like a personal consultation on how you can use Pacejet and establish a carrier portfolio, contact us for help.
Holiday shipping plan
Be sure to check that your carriers also have adequate holiday shipping plans in place. You'll want to know they're taking measures to secure additional employee shifts if needed and can fulfill parcel or freight processing.
You'll also want to be very clear on delivery cut-off dates, so customers receive their orders in time for the holidays. Crucially, if you are an e-commerce company, ensure this information is clear on your website to avoid disappointing customers.
Master inventory management
If you haven't assessed your holiday sales from previous years and compared demand from previous months in 2020 to other years, then now's the time. If you discover that your online orders have jumped considerably this year or that certain products were more popular than others, make stocking those items a priority and get in touch with suppliers now.
If you're sitting on stock that's not selling particularly well, now might be a good time to discount slow-moving inventory to make space for your best-sellers.
Equally important, ensure you know how long it will take your vendors to ship products to you. If it takes a couple of months for them to handle and ship stock, start ordering advanced inventory now. You don't want to be faced with a stock shortage mid-season and find nowhere to purchase more.
And, if you were overwhelmed with orders last year, think about whether you need to add short-term or long-term warehouse space to store more products.
Must-have shipping supplies
To ensure your shipping operations run smoothly, arrange adequate shipping supplies to fulfill extra orders. Make a note of what you already have, what you used based on previous holiday seasons, and plan for more due to the expected high volume of this year's online sales.
- Sanitizer, masks, and PPE are requirements this season and need to be added as standard operation tools for your workers
- Scales are a must-have to weigh packages correctly and save money on your shipping costs.
- If you have a high demand for lighter orders, make sure you stock up on unpadded and padded envelopes.
- Ensure you have a range of box sizes, so they're the right fit for the product—order excess boxes for best-sellers.
- Ensure you have adequate filler and protective packaging.
- Place orders for various types of packaging tape.
- Ensure you have enough label printers to handle demand.
Remember that capturing incorrect weights or dimensions can cost you unexpected charges when your packages arrive at the carrier for processing. If you know this cost you in the past, look at ways to improve your accuracy. If you are a Pacejet customer, look in the Help Center for more information on the devices that work best with the platform.
Schedule carrier pickups
As order volumes increase, ensure you plan additional pickups in advance to avoid unwanted delays. If you haven't planned ahead, and your carriers aren't available when you need them, you could find yourself stuck with orders piling up for a carrier, which erodes the cost savings of rate-shopping in the first place.
If packages are damaged, lost, or stolen in transit, you'll no doubt want peace of mind knowing your shipments are covered by insurance.
Although most carriers take the utmost care with their clients' packages, some circumstances are simply beyond their control. Without insurance, the cost of replacing those damaged or lost products can quickly eat into your holiday profits.
If you already have package insurance, check your policy to ensure you're sufficiently covered during the holiday period. If you don't have insurance, it's not too late to get protection.
Carrier tracking and customer support
Keeping your partners and customers informed when their shipments are in transit is a must. As we said at the start, the space between the shipping dock and the customer defines your success.
When choosing a carrier, confirm they have tracking capabilities that follow the shipment. If any issues occur, your partner or customer will want to know there is support on hand to help them. If you can, provide a live customer support team to deal with shipping inquiries as they arise. If you can't handle this as part of your process, make sure to communicate support information on your shipping confirmation, packing slip, and website.
Streamline with automation
If you haven't done so already, now's the time to review and streamline your workflows and operations where possible. With shipping automation, there's no need to do manual order entry, copy and paste tracking codes, sift through countless paper orders, or manage multiple shipping software accounts. Consider how you and your team spend your days and write down any areas that you find frustrating or time-consuming. Any inefficiencies will be exposed through this process.
You may find your current pick, pack, and ship process is taking over most of your day due to a lack of automation or systems that no longer work for your growing business. If you are still working with a manual system, this is the perfect year to think about shipping automation and batch processing to simplify these tasks.
Here at Pacejet, our shipping software connects businesses with a vast range of carriers to fulfill many different shipping requirements. We work with companies shipping heavy equipment, luxury furniture, sports gear, rare coins, musical instruments, and everything in between.
Companies love Pacejet because our variety of tools are designed to simplify packing while leaving fewer errors through our scan-pack verify, auto packing, drag-and-drop packing, and scale integration facilities. We work with our customers year-round to make sure they are optimizing operations to get the right shipments to the right places more quickly, easily, and cost-effectively than ever before.
If you aren't satisfied with your current shipping process or want to learn how you can use Pacejet more effectively, contact us today, and we'll connect you with a consultant focused on your success.
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If you're interested in discovering how Pacejet can help your business adapt to the growing need for a more streamlined e-commerce operation, click on the button below to connect with us or visit www.pacejet.com, call 877-722-3538, or email email@example.com.