The festive season will soon arrive, and with it will come the busiest time of year for many businesses. This applies equally to e-commerce retailers and businesses with physical stores. Holidays bring with them their own set of challenges for successful order fulfillment along with worse consequences for mistakes. Learning what pitfalls to expect is the first step in navigating the flurry of activity and coming out safely at the other end.

Customer Loyalty

Normally, customers will stick to a specific set of e-commerce businesses for their product purchases with only occasional variance. During the holidays—amidst the sales and shipping options thrown at customers by your competitors – this routine often goes out the window. Fending off these poachers so that you can retain customer loyalty is a key challenge that, fortunately, can be overcome. Special bundles, giveaways, discounts, and shipping deals can all help keep your customers on your side and also attract those still undecided about where to shop.

A good thing to keep in mind is that earlier is often better when it comes to advertising such things. By getting your offers out ahead of the competition, your customers can make their decision—and possibly their purchases—before getting lured away.

Inventory Management

There are numerous hurdles from the holiday rush that can complicate efforts to stay on top of your stock. Aside from the increase salesvolume that can rapidly change your numbers, different deals and bundles can add to confusion. Using product pairings can help sales, but it also makes keeping track of inventory trickier than normal and can leave you with a shortage unexpectedly.

Additionally, the classic problem of simply not ordering enough of a key product is always a risk. Addressing this problem has three main steps:

  • Monitor your sales records to anticipate what the hot items will be and order accordingly;
  • Keep an eye on your stock levels during the sale period—ideally with some method of real-time inventory tracking—so you can order more before you run out;
  • Have a system in place for customers who want to buy something that’s no longer in stock. This can involve website messages telling them when you’ll have more in stock or even an option for email notification.

Customer Service Shortages

Order changes, inquiries, order complications, special delivery requests, and more are all issues customers will be bringing to you in increasing numbers during the holiday period. Being clear in your communications with customers about policies, response times, return and shipping options, and the like can better reduce call volume and help ease the burden.

Additionally, running short on personnel to handle these calls can not only annoy the customer with long wait times but can also distract staff from other key duties; therefore, getting some extra help in the form of seasonal workers can be a further boon. These workers can either address customers themselves or handle more menial tasks in order to free up more of your long-term and more experienced staff.

APS Fulfillment Inc. is a Florida-based specialist in direct mail marketing, pick and pack service, and e-commerce product fulfillment. Look to our website for more tips on how to identify the best e-commerce, inventory management, and shipping fulfillment strategies. To get more information, please contact us at 954-582-7450 or write us at [email protected]