Planning for seasonal spikes in your retail business takes careful planning and coordination. And there’s no time more critical for e-tailers than the months leading up to the online shopping rush between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
When you work with an outsourced ecommerce fulfillment provider, you want to ensure everyone is in sync. Here’s a short list of must-share information that will help you plan the work and work the plan.
Your forecast serves as the roadmap for your inventory and fulfillment strategy. In addition to how much product you’ll receive at the warehouse, share when those pallets full of holiday products are scheduled to hit the docks. Other critical pieces of forecasting data include:
- Promotion by SKU (stock-keeping unit) or product line,
- Items you’re predicting to be big sellers,
- Specials for “oversized” or “ship alone” products, and
- Custom shipping requirements.
Be sure to communicate if you want to add personalization options such as embroidery or gift wrapping.
How are peak season inventory and fulfillment going? One of the easiest ways to tell is to monitor a few KPIs (key performance indicators). These KPIs should be specific to your business goals, but in general, you may want to monitor and discuss regularly:
- Inventory accuracy,
- Backorders as a percentage of total orders,
- Percentage of SKUs out of stock,
- Fulfillment rate, and
- Fulfillment accuracy.
While sharing goals about inventory management, fulfillment, and returns are important, don’t forget to outline the overarching business goals. What do you want to get out of peak season? Sure, you have sales goals, but what about the other areas that impact your business now and in the future? What about turning this Christmas shopper into a returning buyer? While your fulfillment partner may not directly impact every big-picture goal, they can recommend best practices and resources to help get you there.