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The holidays are a crucial time for ecommerce businesses. If you’re not prepared, you could end up missing out on a lot of sales and if your fulfillment process is a disaster, you could end up with a lot of unhappy customers. That’s why it’s so important to plan with your partners and suppliers so that you are ready for this busy season. Here are a few tips to get your ecommerce fulfillment process ready for the holidays:

Start Planning Early

The holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year for online retailers, so it’s important to give yourself plenty of time to prepare. Don’t wait until the last minute to start thinking about your holiday fulfillment. The sooner you start planning, the better. That way, you’ll have plenty of time to figure out what needs to be done, how to best go about doing it and document it.  Once you have made a list of all the tasks that need to be completed, it is important to prioritize them to ensure that the most important items are taken care of first.

Delegate Fulfillment Tasks

To make ecommerce fulfillment preparation for the holidays less overwhelming, it is helpful to delegate tasks among team members or even outsource some of the work to a third-party logistics (3PL) provider. This will help to ensure that all the necessary tasks are completed in a timely manner without any one person feeling overwhelmed.

Make sure your Product Inventory is in Order

In order to maximize sales and take advantage of the surge in consumer spending, retailers need to plan ahead and make sure they have enough inventory on hand. The last thing you want is to run out of a popular item and lose a potential sale. To avoid this, start by taking a look at your sales data from previous holiday seasons. This will give you a good idea of which items are likely to be in high demand. Then, place orders with your suppliers accordingly. It’s also a good idea to over-order by 10-20%, just to be safe. By carefully planning your inventory for the holiday season, you can ensure that your business is prepared for the rush and ready to capitalize on the uptick in sales.

Determine Your Holiday Packaging Needs

This time of year, ecommerce stores tend to look at adding holiday themed packaging.  There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing holiday packaging. You’ll want to make sure that your packaging is durable enough to withstand the journey from your warehouse to your customer’s doorstep. As well as make sure that your packaging is easy for your team or your 3PL to process during this busy time of year.  You will not want to add a level of complexity to the fulfillment process when shipping dates are critical.

Holiday Packaging Inserts

This is a great time to consider packaging inserts as your products may be gifts which can expose you to an entirely new audience.  Inserts that not only convey your brand, but also offer a promotion to entice repeat business can set your business up for successful post-holiday sales.  If you work with a 3PL, discuss this option with them to determine needs, process and potential pricing implications.

Utilize Automation Where Possible

Fulfilling orders can be time-consuming, especially during the holidays when everyone is trying to get their orders in as soon as possible. Luckily, there are some great third-party fulfillment companies like Badger Fulfillment Group that can automate parts of the process for you with streamlined integration with your ecommerce stores. This will free up your time so that you can focus on other aspects of your business.

Anticipate Problems

In addition to staying organized, it is also important to anticipate problems that could arise during the holiday season and have a plan in place for how to deal with them quickly and efficiently. For example, if an item goes out of stock, having a back-up plan for where to source more inventory from can help to avoid any delays in fulfilling orders.  Make sure to talk to all current and potential suppliers ahead of time.

Be Prepared for Returns

It’s inevitable that some customers will return items they’ve ordered during the holidays. That’s why it’s important to have a solid return policy in place and be ready to handle returns quickly and efficiently. Otherwise, you risk frustrating your customers and damaging your reputation.

Enjoy Yourself!

Last but not least, don’t forget to enjoy yourself! The holiday season is a busy time, but it’s also a time to celebrate with family and friends. Take some time out of your busy schedule to relax and enjoy the festivities.

If you’re selling products online, then proper holiday fulfillment is essential to your success. By partnering with a 3PL and following these tips, you can ensure that your holiday season goes smoothly and that your customers are happy with their purchases.