How to optimize eCommerce fulfillment strategy for holidays?
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The holiday season, comprising festivals like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, and New Year are, lined up. And as such, you will experience the busiest times of the year in the coming days. The promising sales you will have is also filled with numerous challenges in the busy sales season, one being order fulfillment. Considering its importance and how it can lead to customer satisfaction, here are tips that will help you optimize your fulfillment strategy and manage fulfillment smoothly during the 2022 holiday season.
Holiday Fulfillment: What it means for sellers?
How you fulfill orders during the holiday season will help you make a lasting impression on your shoppers. Offering the best fulfillment during the busiest times of the year, i.e., the holiday season will help you win the shoppers’ trust and convert the holiday season in your favor. Fulfillment will help you meet the customer’s expectations and monetize your efforts incurred in building a fantastic eCommerce website, running eMail campaigns, creating a social media presence, etc. All your efforts will only be successful if the fulfillment is up to the mark. If you run out of stock, fulfill orders after the delivery date, or happen to deliver the wrong item, you will risk sales, and your reputation will be adversely affected. Put in efforts to offer the best fulfillment that leaves a lasting impression on your shoppers and helps you win shoppers’ trust this 2022 holiday season.
How to master fulfillment during the holiday season in 2022?
Since fulfillment is a key to your eCommerce success, ignoring and not trying to master it can break your festive sales. There are ways available that can give a boost to your way of fulfilling eCommerce orders, as below:
1. Outsource fulfillment
Since you don’t know the exact order volume you will have to deal with during the peak sales season, inappropriate order handling can negatively affect your online sales. Some sellers hire a team of people only during the festive season and release them after the holiday season. This additional team helps them manage holiday sales and efficiently fulfill holiday orders.
Additionally, you can opt for a third-party fulfillment service and outsource all your fulfillment instead of putting all your resources into eCommerce fulfillment. For example, if you sell at Walmart, you can register under its fulfillment program- Walmart Fulfillment Services, aka WFS. WFS helps you outsource all your inventory to the Walmart Fulfillment Centers, and when an order clicks in, Walmart fulfills the order on your behalf. Walmart also takes care of returns and customer services for the products fulfilled using Walmart Fulfillment Services(WFS). This is how you can easily optimize holiday fulfillment while focusing on the other vital aspects of your business.
2. Get the best shipping options
Fulfillment outsourcing is one of the best ways to deliver an enhanced fulfillment experience to your online customers. However, to fulfill the holiday orders on your own, you can work on some pointers, as listed below:
- Offer ground shipping, as it costs low and can help you save significant amounts compared to air shipping.
- Stock up your inventory at different fulfillment centers. This will help you save time and money by fulfilling your orders from the fulfillment center closest to the customer.
- Try to absorb the shipping cost and offer free shipping.
- Display the order cutoffs at a set date and offer guaranteed shipping at a date you fix pre-holiday.
What works best-Free shipping or Fast shipping?
As per a survey:
- 24% of shoppers canceled their orders because of too-slow delivery.
- 54% of consumers abandoned shopping carts because of too-expensive delivery.
- 62% of shoppers want their free shipping orders within three days.
- 85% of shoppers look for free shipping when buying.
All this illustrates that fulfillment will work for you if you make it a differentiator in the holiday season ahead. While free shipping attracts a high volume of shoppers, it will work only if the fast shipping is bundled.
Therefore, prioritize and optimize the fulfillment options when working on finalizing the ways of fulfillment during the 2022 holiday season. Though it’s convenient to rely on one carrier to fulfill customer demand during peak sales, diversifying your carrier strategy to more than one carrier will pay you when an influx of orders arrives.
Intelligent Returns management is a must.
Fast shipping wins you more shoppers, but the high holiday sales are also backed with Returns. An estimated 1 million packets are returned each year up to Christmas. So their efficient handling is a must to reduce the loss they bring. Since online shopping is growing fast as more and more shoppers are shifting to online shopping each year, offering shoppers a happy returns experience will help you win them. A poor return experience will make shoppers shift toward your competitors and can hamper your online sales to a great extent.
How to offer an excellent Return experience to shoppers?
- Get your fulfillment centers prepared for increased returns during the 2022 holiday season so you can process them fast.
- Have a clear return policy. The way you initiate and execute the returns should be visible to your customers.
- The return experience should be smooth. Make it easy for the customers to understand and initiate returns when needed.
- Offer free returns since most customers want to return products at no cost. Free returns create a lasting impression on shoppers, who are likely to return to you for future purchases.
- Find out why your customers are returning the purchased products. Understand them and optimize your holiday fulfillment strategy accordingly.
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To Sum Up
Consumers are likely to switch retailers when the product delivery is too slow, or the return experiences are unsatisfactory. Preparing yourself well and optimizing your fulfillment strategy will help you leverage the holiday season in 2022 to your advantage and win more loyal customers.