Plan for the 2021 Holiday Shopping Season: 10 Ways to Prepare for Shipping Demands

Record-breaking sales are the goal for every major shopping season—whether it's the holidays or back to school—or a much-anticipated product launch. However, even after you've generated those deals, you'll have to set up delivery and fulfillment procedures for each one.


From your online business's customer experience to inventory optimization, there are various techniques to prepare your store for the busiest season of the year.


# 1: Plan ahead of time

To prepare ahead of time, make the most of data, think through planned promotions, and figure out how you'll handle large demand spikes.


You can improve stock levels and make better judgments about how much and when to replenish each SKU by anticipating demand.


Though stock prediction may never be completely precise, there are actions you can do to get your predictions closer to reality: 


  • Examine historical data as well as seasonality.
  • Consider upcoming promotions and expected increases.
  • Track fast-moving vs. slow-moving goods to optimize stock levels.

In the case of a stockout, you'll want to set up a procedure that immediately identifies orders as "out of stock" on your site. Hence, both you and your customers are aware of current stock availability.


If you have dead stock, you can conduct a campaign or a flash sale to clear it out and create a way for in-demand goods.


# 2: Increase the number of customer support representatives

Customer support is the key to an online business success. Because of the surge of purchases and even courier issues, you'll want to ramp up your customer support team.


Your online business will get more visitors and orders than normal, so the more help you can provide at times and through the channels your consumers prefer, the better.


Ensure your staff is up to date on carrier deadlines, current discounts, the many shipping choices available, estimated arrival times, and how to easily return or exchange products.


#3: Give your customers a heads up 

Because the fourth quarter is the biggest for prime shipping season shipping, eCommerce companies must pay particular attention to carrier thresholds for each offering (even padding in additional time) and carrier lead times performance to convey any possible delays to customers.

Last-mile delivery is crucial for a customer, yet delays sometimes arise. Be vigilant in the event of delay and engage with customers as early as possible about any possible delays.


When carrier holiday shipping dates become known, make a note of them so you can inform your consumers about when holiday orders must be submitted to be fulfilled and sent on time.

You should also keep a check on your inventory levels. If you have a stockout, label goods as "out of stock" straight away in your shop, and don't over-promote or emphasize them (even in set-it-and-forget-it mediums like retargeting advertising) until you have a solid backorder strategy.

As usual, make sure you provide order tracking to your clients so they can follow their orders in real-time.

#4: Work with a competent third-party logistics provider

Working with a seasoned third-party logistics (3PL) provider can make the hectic Christmas season a lot easier to handle, especially if you're:


  • Trying to leap from a personal to a professional source of fulfillment.
  • Getting ready to introduce a new product or service
  • Consider transitioning from operating your warehouse to a hybrid model.


It's difficult to meet Christmas demand on your own, and it's costly and time-consuming to lease your warehouse. 

#5: Make use of the most up-to-date supply chain technology

A simplified tech stack can improve order accuracy while also increasing speed. It also delivers real-time, reliable information that can be exchanged with a variety of third parties.


It's not too late to incorporate technology into your supply chain if you want to optimize your supply chain before peak shipping season.


#6: Keep in touch with your suppliers

To minimize potential stockouts over the Christmas season, work very closely with your supplier or manufacturer by discussing projected Q4 order volume ahead of time – as soon as feasible. Due to Q4 demand, port delays and other supply chain difficulties, expect lengthier wait times than usual.


Stockouts, backorders, and running promotions on out-of-stock products can all be avoided by knowing manufacturing wait times.


Some businesses even attempt to vary their manufacturer mix by working with numerous partners in different sectors to mitigate risk if their principal supplier fails to deliver on time.

If you deal with a third-party logistics provider, keep track of their inventory delivery cut-off points during the holidays since their backlog will be larger than usual. Consider all of these factors when calculating lead times this year, and you'll be able to refill even sooner.


#7: Make use of a variety of shipping carriers

You can increase your shipment options by employing different shipping providers. However, collaborating with numerous shipping carriers may be time-consuming, and it may cause you to fall below the minimum shipment level required to receive lower shipping prices.


#8: Create a system for managing returns

Make sure you have a well-defined refund and exchanging policy in place that is easy to comprehend and available on your online shop or product descriptions at all times of the year.

A competent returns management strategy can promote brand loyalty and retain sales by providing the returns procedure as simple as possible for the consumer.


Make any necessary changes to your return policy to ensure you're not losing money. Examine which items generate the most returns, figure out why, and make product and/or product description adjustments to establish expectations properly.


#9: Purchase additional shipping supplies

If you maintain fulfillment in-house, the last thing you want to do is sluggish fulfillment due to a lack of product packaging, so make sure to load up on boxes, poly mailers, and other supplies you'll need.


You'll also want to consider how you might make your unique selling point out this Christmas season. Custom packaging, marketing inserts, and gift notes, for example, can make the unpacking experience unique.


A great unpacking experience may thrill your consumers and enhance the likelihood of sharing the experience with their friends and social media followers in the era of social media.


#10: Store inventory across multiple warehouses

You can satisfy consumer expectations by using a dispersed inventory approach to offer competitive, rapid, and inexpensive delivery alternatives (such as 2-day or free shipping with a minimum purchase requirement that exceeds your average order value).


Hope the article has provided you with sufficient information. Do let us know your feedback in the comment section below.