So we reached the finale.
The goal of this article is to provide eCommerce brands currently working with a logistics provider on how to streamline the way we work together and how to best work in tandem with us to ensure smoother peak season operations. During peak season, 3/4PLs, multimodal carriers and warehouses hit maximum capacity, thus essential to plan as far in advance to avoid last minute updates with your logistic partner and ensure all parties are are provided with enough information on your fulfillment needs to facilitate better downchain operations.
I will break down this article into 2 recommendations, the communication that should happen before the peak season and the comms that will happen during.
BEFORE THE PEAK SEASON
Onboard Your Account Manager on Your Ecommerce Business
Depending on your vendor’s processes, you will either be assigned a dedicated account manager, or a customer service team. In this first situation, make sure that your account manager is well trained on your products, type of orders (B2B vs B2B), or general instructions will minimize your efforts. He or she will be able to make decisions faster, and potentially without your approval. Defining clear SOPs pre peak season will avoid redundant and repetitive back and forth during
Share forecasts and understand operations
From your customer’s point of view, they have zero visibility on the fulfillment logistics that goes on behind the scenes and are less lenient towards delays against delivery promises. Build and share forecasts for Q4 and the Christmas season. This will allow you to allocate your stocks to a certain degree of confidence and will also prevent limitation issues at your warehouse. Depending on your forecasts, fulfillment centers can allocate the right number of people within the warehouse, or increase the number of pick and pack stations. Most importantly,
Although it is always a challenge to forecast accurately, starting with an estimated range can provide insights that can minimize your processing time, it is important to note that any potential peak in sales (think 11.11, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and especially Christmas) need to be communicated as early as possible as it can take days to at times weeks to hire extra workforce for your ecommerce fulfillment.
Bundling products is a common practice peak season AOV uplifter and we recommend bundling to be created before Christmas begins so the right packaging is assigned to reduce the potential rise in shipping cost due.
Your account manager should have a thorough understanding of your products before the peak season. You want to make sure that the pick and pack process matches your expectations and the right packaging is allocated to your SKUs with the dual goal of providing adequate product protection AND minimizing the volumetric weight (and sequentially, the shipping cost).
Also communicate as much as possible about future inventory replenishments. Although this process should be automated, it is crucial that your partner has a good understanding of the replenishment schedule as well as potential backup replenishments options in case of large numbers of orders.
In the case where your product is small enough to guarantee storing enough of them, this is not relevant to you. Conversely, if your backup replenishment option and storage is far from your customers, i recommend giving my colleague Piyush’s Q4 Warehousing Strategy article a read on how to optimize your warehouse inventory allocation.
Understand Overflow Capacity
Ask your 3PL/4PL for their capacity and their backup options in case their clients have order surges. The more you understand their operations, the better you will be prepared in case of challenges. This will also allow you to set up the right expectations with your customers and set the right shipping expectations for the customers from the outset.
DURING THE PEAK SEASON
Forecasts will vary during the peak season and stock adjustments may be required. Keep your logistic partner in the loop for any update that might affect them (increase in sales, one SKU performing better…. This will avoid unexpected situations and delays.
In the case they don’t do it already, ask them for updates on the situation within the warehouse and shipping during the season. Are they having more orders than expected? Are they coping well with the volume? What is their bandwidth? What are their plans for Q4 2021 when ocean and express freight are both seeing increases in freight cost and ongoing push backs on delivery times. The earlier you have this visibility, the sooner you can set the correct expectations for your consumers.
Although a peak season can get crazy, what determines the success of a Christmas season is not the work done during, but beforehand. This will contribute to your economic success, with the least effort for you and your CS team.
HOW FLOSHIP CAN HELP
Three words: dedicated account management
The constant takeaway from my article are the different operational topics that need to be communicated between you and your logistics solution provider pre and during Q4. The key here is to breakdown your logistics provider into main points of contact who can work with you on transforming your Q4 operational requests into a timely and actionable logistics plan that the manufacturer, carriers, warehouses and tech are all aligned and actioning towards.
Get in touch with Floship today and find a better logistics solution for Q4 and beyond.
5 TIPS TO SUCCEED YOUR Q4 ECOMMERCE FULFILLMENT – COMPLETE COLLECTION
PART 1: Manufacturing
PART 2: Carrier Management
PART 3: Fulfillment Platform
PART 4: Warehousing & Inventory