Preparing for Peak Season. Do you have a Plan B?

Man delivering parcels

As we enter Q4, online retailers are already beginning to brace themselves for the busiest time of the year. Peak season starts as early as October and runs all the way through to the new year in a period that encompasses Halloween, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas and Hanukkah. Phew!

While 2021 was a peak year for eCommerce sales due to Covid causing many bricks and mortar stores to close, 2022 faces its own challenges in the form of uncertainty in the parcel delivery market on top of demand going through the roof.

At a time when customers are more demanding than ever, expecting fast and free delivery, next day options and easy returns as standard, it’s never been more critical to meet their needs. And we all know how quickly a poor customer experience can deter future sales – and how much more expensive it is to win new customers compared to keeping a current one.

So what can an eCommerce business do to ensure peak season runs smoothly? Read our top tips to maximise the revenue opportunity that this time of year brings – whilst keeping your customers happy too.

Plan for what you can

While no one can ever forecast completely accurately, it’s essential to analyse your previous years’ data as much as possible to try and be prepared for sales demand. This includes planning for the impact of any promotions you may have – it doesn’t hurt to carry a little extra buffer stock at this time of year.

Let your suppliers know your Q4 inventory needs as early as you possibly can – you need to allow longer lead time during this busy period. The same goes for letting your logistics partner know your anticipated parcel volumes and the splits in terms of country of delivery. Every carrier will have their own cut-offs for their various services, so make sure you are well aware of this and factor in the appropriate amount of time for every stage – plus a little bit extra, if you can.

Communication is key

Potential negative customer experiences can be averted through up-to -the-minute communication with your shoppers. For example, make last order dates for Christmas incredibly clear (for each delivery method), make customers aware of any delays as soon as possible, ensure out of stocks are labelled rapidly, and if you haven’t already, implement order tracking so that your customers are always fully in the know about the whereabouts of their order.

Flexible is best

At critical times like this it’s best not to have all your eggs in one basket. It may be worth diversifying your suppliers to ensure that you can get all the stock you need, when you need it, especially with shipping lead times longer than usual right now.

The same applies to your eCommerce delivery carriers. Whether to avoid maxed out carrier capacities, soaring costs, or just to offer your online customers a bigger choice of delivery options, a multi-carrier strategy is the ideal solution to ensure that a single carrier doesn’t let you – or your customers – down. Find out more about how ITD can implement a multi-carrier approach for you, selecting different couriers and delivery partners to suit the individual circumstance, and making it all seamless from both a business and a customer point of view. More.

Likewise when it comes to the shipping of your inventory. The last thing you want is for your stock to be stuck somewhere when you’ve got customers crying out for it – so you can’t depend on a single shipping method or supplier. ITD works with all the major networks and has the buying power to ensure that your stock gets to your warehouse without a hitch. And because of our buying power, we can pass savings on to you, too.

Prepare your internal teams

Even with the right logistics partner and technology systems in place, people power at this time of year is still key. That means recruiting sufficient seasonal staff to make sure your warehouse and fulfilment teams are at full power for peak. If this is an issue for you, consider outsourcing your fulfilment.

Make sure you have adequate customer service on standby and that key management roles are filled in preparation for peak. This no time to have a rudderless ship.

Get ready for returns

With huge online order volumes, sadly will also come high volumes of ecommerce returns. The best approach is a holistic solution that not only makes the process effortless for the consumer, but efficient and cost-effective for your online business too.

ITD Global has innovative returns solutions for both the UK and worldwide. Our easy online returns portal generates electronic labels making the returns process quick and easy for both you and your customer.

If peak season sounds like a headache waiting to happen for your ecommerce company, ITD can help make it all easy. Co-ordinating multiple carrier networks through our local depots… shipping your inventory cargo to your warehouses from anywhere in the world… integrating our smart software to make order management effortless… it’s what we do.