E-commerce logistics at Christmas time
Christmas is just around the corner! It's the most important time of the year for most online shops and markets, next to Cyberweek! The effects of the pandemic have further fuelled the already steadily growing sales figures in e-commerce retail. Logistical processes that worked just two years ago are now starting to reach their limits - be it that products are sold out and delivered too late, orders are not shipped to customers on time, or personnel costs are too high.
As a fulfilment company, we are always on hand to provide online stores with advice and support. Even with the common question: How can we best prepare for the Christmas business?
For this, we have worked out our 5 best tips for you:
Who takes care of the IT and monitors your webshop and the daily incoming orders? How many employees are involved in sales and how many handle operations? What if one of these key people is absent due to illness? Are there several allrounders in your company who can perform different tasks? Are they trained well?
These are all questions that need to be addressed long before the big Christmas peak hits. Look around for employees in good time - because recruitment takes a lot of time! Start looking for suitable people in the summer who can support your company at peak times starting in October or November. This way you make sure that there will be no emergency situation that could cause a significant loss of sales!
2. Logistics, warehouses and supply chains
To keep your Christmas business running well, a seamless supply chain is of utmost importance. Keep regular contact with your suppliers and inquire about the current state of affairs in order to be able to react quickly to any issues or delays. Have a contingency plan with alternative strategies that you can switch to in such cases.
In addition, you should always keep an eye on your stock level and plan ahead how much of which assortment would be useful at what moment. Your warehouse should be well stocked, but not completely full. The average should be a little over 80%, which you can possibly push even further in the run-up to Christmas. If you have already outsourced your e-commerce logistics, we advise you to check with your fulfillment partner well in advance about renting additional warehouse space - in case you expect a larger order volume, for example, or when demand might increase significantly in a short while.
Focus your inventory on those items you want to push with advertising and reduce the proportion of goods in the warehouse that normally sell less well. In this way, you optimize the storage space - i.e. the costs - and at the same time simplify the processing of your orders
3. Let us help you
Many webshop operators are still responsible for their entire e-commerce logistics in-house. This creates a lot of work, which devours resources and causes additional costs. The larger your company becomes, the more complicated it is to deliver to all customers as quickly as usual and as they were used to. In addition, there is the warehouse management, the implementation of special requests - such as a Christmas gift wrapping - and the ongoing coordination with shipping partners and carriers (e.g. the post office, DHL, DPD, etc.).
Depending on your product type, the organization of returns is also not to be neglected! Especially after Christmas, many well-intentioned gift ideas go back to the sender and sometimes cause a lot of logistical effort. Professional fulfilment centers can take care of these tedious processes for you, or make them much easier, so that you can better concentrate on your core business.
Fulfilment partners like Logsta can help you with this. We specialize in handling e-commerce logistics and offer flexible services for companies of all sizes. Our fulfilment centers take care of all steps of your logistics and ensure significantly increased efficiency in parcel shipping. From connecting your online store system to storage, packaging and shipping.
4. Give your customers more order options
Numerous analyses show that customers prefer online stores that provide them with more order options. This prevents you from losing a quarter of all orders on average! A decisive factor here: 60% of users choose their online store according to whether it offers their preferred shipping option and payment method! Therefore, make sure that you offer a wider range of order options in your webshop so that no one drops out shortly before the end of the order process.
A few common examples:
Some people like to order their Christmas gifts at the last minute and accept higher costs - for express shipping, for example. Others do not like to order on the Internet for environmental reasons, but absolutely want to give their loved ones exactly your handmade product. They would be happy with the possibility of climate-neutral shipping. Likewise, there are many customers who are hardly ever at home and would like to pick up their packages themselves from a pick-up station.
Get advice from your fulfilment provider on what shipping options are possible and make them available in your web store.
In addition, Amazon has made it socially acceptable: if additional shipping options aren't possible for your business for various reasons, at least consider making deliveries free. This is a key factor that will make online shoppers choose you and your shop!
5. Seek and implement feedback
Last but definitely not least: actively ask for feedback from your customers! This is a real goldmine that many companies often don't take seriously enough, or shy away from because they don't want to risk negative reviews on Google and social media. Yet it is one of the most important means of finding error and learning from them in the future.
What's the best way to do this? Try to answer all reviews, comments and emails as quickly as possible and try to find a solution. Mistakes happen - if they are solved quickly, it shows your customers that you care and that they can trust your store.
Make it easy to give feedback! If you don't already do it, we highly recommend asking your customers for their feedback by email. It may be that some people were not satisfied with the process, but don't want to bother sharing their negative experience.
Set up email automations that are sent a certain time after the order is placed and solicit reviews from your customers in a direct way. This way you will not only find the most common reasons, such as late deliveries or faulty package contents which are usually reflected in the returns anyway, but also many other very specific problems that you might not even know about. Popular applications to set up email automations through your website are Mailchimp, Active Campaign and Mailerlite.
Several webshop systems like Shopify or WooCommerce already offer plugins to schedule and automatically send emails to customers.
Together with your e-commerce logistician, you can adjust various settings and sustainably improve the user experience.
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