For most retailers, merchants, and business owners, the holiday season is the busiest time of year. The holiday is your best opportunity to see massive growth in sales. With Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Christmas just a few weeks away, the time to get your holiday fulfillment ready is now. So yes, the holiday can make or break your year, that’s why it’s essential you knock it out of the park this holiday 2020.
The 2020 holiday season is like no other we’ve seen before. It presents new challenges, new opportunities, and a lot of unknown outcomes. Thanks to COVID, your business is going to face tightened challenges at a level you’ve never seen before. With COVID, safety is at the forefront. It can slow down your processes and supply chain if you’re not properly prepared.
Here at Thill, we’re an essential business, we’ve been operating through the pandemic since day one. Truth be told, we’ve been helping business owners navigate this new ecommerce landscape for months now. While you may have your systems in place, will your ecommerce fulfillment be able to handle this unique 2020 holiday season?
Even when everything that’s going on, this isn’t a time to ring the alarm. Instead, it’s your opportunity to get prepared.
All Eyes On Your Dimensional Weight (DIM)
The big number one rule of the holidays, “make sure you’re watching your DIM weight.” If you’re a regular around these parts, you already know we’re always talking about dimensional weight. In fact, we have a few guide on the topic you’re more than welcome to check out.
All of the major carriers use formulas to calculate shipping costs. Dimensional weight pricing uses a formula to calculate shipping costs. The formula uses the weight of the parcel plus the size of the box to come up with the weight you’ll be charged for. UPS, FedEx, and USPS all use DIM weight pricing.
How to Calculate Dimensional Weight
To calculate the dimensional weight of your package, use this simple formula: (Length x Width x Height) divided by a dimensional factor. UPS and FedEx use 166 as the dimensional factor of for domestic shipments.
The trick to getting an accurate dimensional weight is properly measuring the package. Here are a couple of important things to remember. Every package is treated like a rectangle, even if it’s not. Measure your package to the farthest point in each direction. Use the outside box dimensions, not the boxes’ capacity measurements. Measure in inches and always round to the nearest whole number. Also, keep in mind that if a package bulges during transit, the box dimensions change and you will be charged the difference.
So, how can you keep dimensional weight from costing you a fortune and killing your bottom line? Simple, you form strategic partnerships with vendors who are experienced and can find the best shipping solution for your products.
Amazon And Ebay Holiday Fulfillment
If you didn’t know, Amazon alone accounts for nearly half of all ecommerce sales. There’s a lot of merchants using Amazon, chances are you do yourself or know someone that does. To our point, it’s a huge platform and the holiday season can be a huge challenge. In fact, the holiday season can put a tight grip on Amazon FBA sellers.
What type of challenges will you face?
- Despite Amazon’s many warehouses, the holidays are going to crowd warehouse space.
- Amazon FBA fees for storage and fulfillment can get expensive.
- During the holidays, you can predict confidently you’re going to see long lead times.
Overfilled Amazon FBA Warehouses
It makes a lot of sense to have extra stock on hand for the holidays. The last thing you want to do is miss out on the holiday rush, the lost sales can add up to a lot of money. While Amazon has warehouse space, every Amazon seller won’t be able to stock up in time, it’s just not possible.
In fact, if you’re an Amazon FBA seller, you likely already know this. It’s possible this has happened to you. While they promise more warehouse space the following year and they do add it, it’s just never enough to satisfy every seller’s needs.
The good news, you don’t have to risk it again this holiday, you can partner with an experienced 3PL fulfillment company like Thill Inc. We work with Amazon FBA sellers all the time, especially around the holiday season because they don’t want to risk losing money.
Our order management software seamlessly integrates with Amazon, Ebay, Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce, BigCommerce, Kickstarter, and many other ecommerce platforms.
Feel free to learn more below.
- Amazon Fulfillment – Order fulfillment solution for Amazon
- Shopify Fulfillment – Order fulfillment solution for Shopify
- Ebay Fulfillment – Order fulfillment solution for Ebay
- Magento Fulfillment – Order fulfillment solution for Magento
- WooCommerce Fulfillment – Order fulfillment solution for WooCommerce
We also offer subscription box fulfillment.
The holidays are likely your biggest time of year, why not protect yourself from losing sales, long lead times, and reduce all the endless fees? Sounds like that would make a lot of sense. You need your holiday fulfillment to run smooth, this is one way to ensure your holiday doesn’t turn into a nightmare.
Reducing Your Returns During The Holiday
If you’re like the “average” ecommerce business, you’re currently running a return rate around 30 percent. Some categories, like clothing, can even run higher than that. Yes, you’re going to have returns, but there’s strategies you can focus on to ensure the best possible outcomes for everyone involved.
- List your Returns Policy on your website
- List clear deadlines within your Return Policy
- Use illustrations and images in your Return Policy
- Use returns as an opportunity to show you care about customers
Return Policies Should Be Easy To Find
A lot of ecommerce merchants generally hide their return policy or at the very least, they make it hard to find. Even so, if you’re hiding it or making it tough to find, this could be costing you ecommerce sales. You want to give your customers the full rundown on your return policies, give them the clarity they’re looking for so they can be confident buying from you.
Your building “know, like, and most importantly, trust.” If you want customers to have a great return experience, the first step is is letting them know what they need to do to return an item.
Using Clear Holiday Deadlines
Also, you want to make sure you have clear holiday deadlines. We’re talking about your returns, but also your hours, sales, and everything in between. A lot of things can change during the holidays, you want to make sure your customers know about all of these changes.
Free Shipping For Returns
Yes, you should offer free shipping for returns. For starters, many customers expect this. Still, a lot of purchases claim it’s important to their buying decision in the first place. If you’re not offering free shipping for returns, they may not buy from you at all. For many business owners, returns are a major black eye on the bottom line. However, it’s best to offer free shipping on returns and making sure that can be found in your return policy.
Choosing A 3PL Holiday Fulfillment Center
For those of you that operate your own ecommerce platform, you already know that the holiday season can be hectic to say the least. If you struggled with your holiday fulfillment last year, this is the year you should be looking for a qualified holiday fulfillment center to help with all your fulfillment needs.
Holiday 2020 sales are expect to rise 1%-1.5%. Despite everything that’s happened in 2020, the holidays are expected to be on fire. Seriously, are you ready?
The holiday brings opportunity as well, over 70 percent of the online world is shopping online through the holidays. This is a great time of year to get your marketing campaigns going and focusing on increasing sales.
Is your fulfillment center ready to handle an unexpected surge in orders? If not, your perfect planning could go to waste. Your insights will help things run more smoothly. A top-notch holiday fulfillment center will take what they learn from your sales history and plan to have enough staff on hand to anticipate the peaks and troughs of seasonal demand, particularly during the winter holidays.
How is your current fulfillment center planning for holiday events? Will they be able to handle the type of sales volume your company will give them? Hopefully you’ve did your due diligence if you’re already working with a 3PL fulfillment center.
If you haven’t hired a 3PL fulfillment partner yet, what’s holding you back from making that decision?
It can help to have an order processing guarantee to ensure they will always pack and ship holiday orders quickly. There’s nothing merrier than orders flying out the door as fast as they come in — and nothing Grinch-ier than orders showing up late.
Holiday Fulfillment Warehouse Shelf Space
Warehouse space can be a challenge around the holidays. As more inventory is stored, some fulfillment centers struggle with vital warehouse space. Most fulfillment warehouses experience this during the holiday rush. While Amazon has warehouse space throughout the country, they get very tight for space around the holidays. In fact, it’s likely they will run out of space and some sellers will miss out. This is why it’s vital to have another plan, relying on an experienced fulfillment center to ensure you don’t miss out on any holiday sales.
Yes, a shelving shortage during the holiday rush is a worst-case scenario for many ecommerce sellers. Not enough shelving could mean your products are stranded on a loading dock or sent off to a different facility for storage. Not good my friends. The potential downside is obvious: if your fulfillment partner ever falls behind, your warehouse stocking backlog can kill your business. You don’t want that.
If your holiday fulfillment center has shelf space shortage, it could leave your products on the loading dock instead of picked, packed, and shipped. Ask your fulfillment center for a dock-to-stock time guarantee to make sure not a single order is delayed because of warehouse stocking backlogs.
Inventory Shrinkage During The Holidays
Zero. That is the number of products your fulfillment center should lose, misplace, damage, or otherwise prevent from being shipped out to paying customers. Now, many order fulfillment centers have contracts that allow for inventory shrinkage. Anytime an order is lost, it hurts your bottom line. You want to make sure you’re hiring a fulfillment center that has a focus on 100 percent accuracy.
There’s no question about it, inventory shrinkage can turn away loyal customers. Think about it, if a company sends you a damaged product, will you be buying anything else from them? Likely not.. right? This is why you want to look for a 3PL provider that guarantees every item you send to the fulfillment center will reach your customers.
Accurate Holiday Inventory
While products may be timely going from dock to stock, it’s just as important that inventory is accurate. There’s nothing worse than a customer being misled into thinking you’re out of an item when in reality there’s a pallet full of that product in your order fulfillment warehouse.
Any products you have that don’t get registered into the WMS or inventory management software upon arrival are basically lost. Talk to your fulfillment center rep about their inventory accuracy guarantee so that you know every piece of merchandise will be properly accounted for.
Finding The Best Holiday Fulfillment Center
There’s a few things you want to focus on when looking for a holiday fulfillment center.
- Holiday Fulfillment Experience – Experience matters and you’re going to want a 3PL holiday fulfillment partner that has experience through the holidays. Here at Thill Inc., we’ve seen 50+ holiday seasons, few fulfillment providers have that level of experience. Still, it matters and where experience is present, mastery can follow suit.
- Category Fulfillment Experience – Does the 3PL fulfillment partner you’re considering have experience shipping the type of products you sell? Each product category is unique and while some may think it’s all fulfillment, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Seek a 3PL partner that has experience storing and fulfilling your type of products.
- Order Fulfillment Time – Be sure to ask how quickly your orders can be fulfilled and shipped. Remember, the holiday traffic can slow down shipping, you want to find a holiday fulfillment center that has a good price and a reputable delivery time, and one that is consistent through those processes.
- Error Rates – How often does your fulfillment center make errors? Errors can be costly but things do happen. Still, you need a partner that aims for 100 percent error-free fulfillment.
- Warehouse Capacity – You also want to make sure your fulfillment center partner has warehouse space available and the staff to fulfill all your orders.
The holidays are an exciting time but they can be stressful. Even for those of you that do your own self-fulfillment, having a holiday fulfillment partner is a wise move. If you’re quickly growing already, perhaps you’ve been thinking about hiring a fulfillment partner already. Either way, you want to be prepared for the holiday rush.
If you’re not sure how to start looking for a holiday fulfillment partner or you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team. We’ll be glad to answer any questions you may have. You can reach us directly at 1-920-967-9201 or you can use our online contact form here.