An expert third-party fulfillment provider can be a great help to ecommerce retailers looking to reduce costs, increase operational efficiencies, and expand their service and delivery offerings (all while focusing more on their business growth). But it becomes instrumental during the busy holiday season where order volumes – and customer expectations – rise dramatically. Below, we’ll dive into a few reasons outsourcing order fulfillment works incredibly well during the holidays.
Orders take on a different life as the holidays approach – they come in faster, in larger quantities, and on days and times that might not be typical during your non-peak seasons. Don’t forget, if you’re running time-sensitive holiday sales or setting deadlines for ‘ship-by [insert holiday here]’, you could have a massive influx of orders with little time to process everything. A fulfillment partner will have the workforce already in place (or on a call list to bring in temporarily, as many providers do), both in the warehouse and the contact center, so you won’t have to worry about making seasonal hires. Plus, with the right kind of technology in place, your orders will get processed quickly and accurately, and inventory levels will be updated in real-time.
The holidays are the perfect time to sell more, but it is a time when you can easily get overwhelmed with excess orders and make slip-ups more likely to happen. You may send out an incorrect order, get the sizing or color wrong, or run out of inventory as orders pour in. And thanks to the emotionally-charged reason for most holiday shopping, errors during the holiday season can cost you dearly in terms of word-of-mouth marketing, customer loyalty, and future sales. But if you work with a third party who’s used to handling these spikes, the chance of errors can be reduced. Thanks to well-trained staff, streamlined processes, and state-of-the-art technology, your order processing will remain efficient and accurate. Plus, returns and refunds can be handled quickly without keeping inventory inert.
Customers may have special shipping requirements if they’re crunched for time during the holiday season (or, for example, if their purchase can’t withstand cold temperatures and the package will travel through winter weather – flowers, certain foods, etc.). Thanks to their network of regional and national carrier partners, fulfillment partners will have access to additional shipping options that retailers may not. With an outsourced fulfillment provider, you can scale up to faster shipping options and introduce new ones. Shipping cut-off times are crucial during the holidays, especially since some shoppers make last-minute purchases requiring express shipping. Similarly, many shoppers like looking for early-bird discounts that reward the pre-season shopper, so the ability to get ‘free’ shipping that’s slower works better for them. With an outsourced provider, you’ll have access to more shipping products (at lower rates than going it alone, mind you!).
More Value-Added Services
If you choose a single-source fulfillment provider with personalization capabilities, your holiday product mix just got a whole lot deeper! Many customers choose to embroider, engrave, or customize their purchases as gifts during this time, so using a partner that provides these services in-house will save you both time and money. With shorter lead times, less product movement before and after personalization, and economies of scale that reduce costs, you’ll find it to be a huge advantage.