As the seasons change and we swap tank tops for cozy sweaters and get ready to turn our clocks back (at least in many parts of the country), most of us are starting to think about the upcoming holidays. For people who sell online or through multichannels, the stakes are even higher. Indeed, for many businesses, it’s time to gear up and get fully prepared for two of the busiest and highest-grossing shopping days of the year: Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Here’s how to leverage 3PL for the holidays.
A Strong Start to the Season
For many companies, Black Friday ranks among the top shopping days of the year. This single day can generate up to 40% of sales for some sellers! And today, many people skip the brick-and-mortar retailer to do their holiday shopping online. In fact, recent research has found that online Cyber Monday sales have surpassed those of Black Friday, so it’s more important now than ever to have a strong online presence to make the most of the season.
Thus, it’s vital to get prepared by asking key questions to ensure you and your team are organized and ready to go, such as:
- How much inventory do you need to avoid stockouts without overstocking? Inaccurate forecasts can be painful and expensive.
- How quickly can you replenish inventory if stocks run low?
- Is your fulfillment center ready for the increased volume of orders?
- What is your plan for supply-chain disruptions or delays?
- Can your website handle the expected traffic surge?
- Do you have the resources and technology to deal with cyber issues, including a transparent and relevant dashboard to view sales and key metrics, increased security and fraud protections, and downtime or breach protection?
- What promotions do you have planned? How will they be communicated to your current and new customers?
- How will you differentiate your deals and brand identity from competitors? Can you use kitting and value-added services to strengthen your appeal?
- Have you streamlined the checkout process for customers so it’s easy for them to click the buy button?
- Have you reviewed your return policy? Are any updates needed?
- Is your staff or 3PL partner trained to answer customer inquiries and help address any issues or concerns?
- Can you track your analytics and real-time performance so you can adjust if needed?
- Can you leverage your partners like 3PL to support your efforts?
Failing to Plan Is Planning to Fail
Unfortunately, companies that fail to plan for this hectic season can face numerous challenges, including:
- Inventory shortages, which can lead to stockouts and significant financial losses.
- Supply-chain disruptions, which can increase business expenses, delay shipping, and short supply.
- Customer challenges as patrons seek substantial discounts, which can be difficult for smaller businesses to sustain. Customers can also place higher demands on retailers as they search for the perfect gifts.
- High return rates, which can lead to financial losses, especially if products can’t be returned to inventory and resold.
How to Leverage 3PL for the Holidays
Fortunately, you don’t have to do it alone. A third-party logistics (3PL) partner can help mitigate the above issues and enhance your preparation for the holiday rush by:
- Supplementing staff with a flexible workforce trained to ramp up for peak times with cross-training and cross-docking from multiple warehouses to help move your products faster and more efficiently.
- Providing real-time data to help you accurately forecast and stay on top of inventory and adjust as needed.
- Offering value-added services such as customer packaging and kitting to help you stand out from competitors.
- Providing omnichannel support to ensure your products are where your customers are while saving time and transportation costs.
A 3PL partner can also help you plan for the influx while helping level out the demand by supporting extended sales periods to reduce bottlenecks. Your partner 3PL can also help relieve your staff’s stress to help them stay productive. In turn, this increased support can increase employee well-being and help reduce staff turnover.
At QuickBox, we understand that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are equivalent to Superbowl Sunday for many brands. Contact us to learn how we prepare all year to help you leverage 3PL for the holidays and ensure you and your team are ready for the big days!