Painful Peak: What to Do When Your Holiday Fulfillment Strategy Goes off the Rails (And How to Make Sure It Stays on Track in 2018)

Painful Peak: What to Do When Your Holiday Fulfillment Strategy Goes off the Rails (And How to Make Sure It Stays on Track in 2018)

So, you’ve just been through the busiest eCommerce shopping period in history. 

You’re probably a mixed bag of feelings right now...

relieved that the madness has died down…

happy and excited because you knocked it out of the park…

frustrated that things didn’t go as planned...

Whatever you’re feeling, it’s almost a guarantee that you want 2018 to be an improvement over this year 2017, especially if you experienced “holiday hurt” in your fulfillment operations. 

Here are 3 things that you can start doing now to ensure a successful 2018 holiday fulfillment season.

  1. Take a step back and assess performance. Right now is the best time to review performance data from this year’s peak period. Some of the key things you’ll need to address in this meeting are: What went well? What didn’t go well?
    • Marketing & Sales-  How were marketing promotions timed? How did it affect fulfillment?
    • Inventory - Was inventory put away and allocatable in time? Was there enough inventory to satisfy demand?
    • Fulfillment - Was your brand experience delivered to your standard? Were your packing guidelines compromised? Did you have to sacrifice either of these things to keep up with holiday demand?
    • Shipping - Were you satisfied with shipping rates and options? What could have been done in order to optimize cost savings for both client and customer?
    • Customer Service - Did your customers receive their orders on time and as expected? More importantly, did you notice an increase in customer complaint phone calls? 
  2. Create a fulfillment action plan for 2018. If something is broken, now is the time to fix it. Consider the following:
    • Holiday Sales Projects & Forecasts - How many peak periods are you planning for in 2018? Share your sales & marketing calendar with your fulfillment partner in order to make sure everyone is aligned with priorities for the upcoming year. 
    • Inventory - What parts of the supply chain do you need to pay attention to? Were your products received and allocated in time to be picked during peak?
    • Technology - Is there an API that handles the information flow between your fulfillment provider and your systems (ERP, OMS, ecommerce)? What additional reporting options were provided  to you online and through automated flash reports?
    • Communication - Were you communicating on a daily basis (or multiple times per day) with your fulfillment partner about key operational metrics and forecasts? One of the major keys to surviving peak without any major catastrophes is constant communication. 
  3. Seek out a new fulfillment partner. Sometimes, you just need to find someone that will better serve you and your brand. If you lack confidence in your current fulfillment solution, now is the time to start surveying your options.

If you’re starting the search for a new fulfillment partner, click here to download our infographic that outlines everything you need to look for when interviewing third party logistics (3PL) companies.

Or, if you’re ready to tour of our 400,000 square foot fulfillment facility to see what “holiday fulfillment done right” looks like, click here to schedule a tour.