The busy season can be very stressful. As opposed to the traditional November/December holiday season, busy season sales are now being concentrated earlier and earlier throughout the year. Certainly, companies will still see a large influx of shoppers before Christmas or a heavy increase in orders from Black Friday and Cyber Monday shoppers, but the times are changing. E-commerce and retail are experiencing staff shortages, a shortage of products, and rising fuel costs that have exacerbated the ongoing shipping crisis. Rather than relying on on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, companies are choosing when they wish to promote their products and offer discounts in order to increase sales, all in an effort to avoid a single mass influx of orders that bogs up the supply chain. It is essential for companies to plan to deal with three major challenges while preparing for a busy season: demand, labor, and customer satisfaction. And spoiler alert - planning and communication play considerable factors in all three. The public was unprepared for the number of delays and inventory shortages experienced last year. In fact, during the two holiday seasons (2021 and 2020), Adobe reported that out-of-stock messages sent to consumers jumped by 325%. In October 2021, out-of-stock messages increased 250% compared to January 2020. Only two and a half years into the pandemic, consumers are beginning to understand the true impact of the global supply chain issue.
Demand for early holiday gift shopping is growing. According to Adobe, $72.4 billion was spent online in October 2021, an 8% increase year-over-year. So, how is the demand forecasted? Creating an accurate forecast is one of the most challenging aspects of running an e-commerce business, and it often results in two outcomes: being lucky or being wrong. Due to the supply chain crisis, there is a lower likelihood of being able to restock in a timely manner. To increase your chances of getting lucky in forecasting, making use of technology and data analysis will be critical. Be mindful of the past performance of your company as well as what experts believe may occur this year. For example, even with the staggering inflation, demand for goods won't diminish, but consumers may shift their spending and increase demand for more lucrative items such as travel, outdoor activity, and other vacation-related items. Keeping up with the market is imperative. In the event, that an order is delayed, be sure to communicate with consumers to ensure they are updated with the latest information.
With an increase in demand comes the need to increase labor. Yet, according to a recent study by Freight Waves, 73% of businesses said they had problems attracting employees in 2022. The percentage is especially true for warehouse and logistics workers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, warehouse jobs rose by 13,400 in January 2022 but understaffing still persists. In an environment where all companies are having difficulty finding employees, how will you be able to meet market demands? As a first step, you will need to estimate the number of employees your organization will require during the busy season. Employees are at peak performance, on average, after two weeks on the job. As a result, forecasting when it is necessary to train employees is also very important. To attract new employees and minimize turnover, it is also crucial to plan for employee motivation. This includes setting objectives and providing ongoing training and support, whether one intends to remain in the warehousing field long-term or eventually move on to another career. Often, motivations go beyond monetary incentives, while those are also important. The goal is to set your employees up for success.
#ShipTip: Have extra capital but still struggling to retain staff? Look into investing in automated help. Leveraging supply-chain solutions (like DesktopShipper!) and even more sophisticated robotics help make fulfilling orders manageable. They're not replacing jobs but rather creating jobs in other sectors to help in the warehousing process and get orders out the door faster and more efficiently.
Despite being listed last, customer satisfaction is without a doubt the most significant thing businesses should focus on. Consumers are creatures of habit, and while companies used to be able to rely on that, according to McKinsey, 39% of consumers have either changed brands or retailers since the start of the pandemic. In addition, 79% of those consumers plan to keep exploring their options in the future. Consumers want to be loyal to brands but are no longer staying just because "that's where they have always shopped." A company mishap, inventory shortage, or delivery delay can immediately cause a lost customer. So, how do you keep consumers satisfied? Through logistics! Consumers now expect two-day or same-day shipping options. It's a critical factor in retaining loyal customers. The most effective way to keep consumers happy is by reducing the time it takes to fulfill the order. This is done by ensuring order accuracy and creating a contingency plan for when order volume surges.
Using technology is the most effective means of achieving all of these objectives. "Word of Mouth" marketing has evolved beyond just having a great product. Instead, it revolves around how long it took for the product to get there, how helpful the customer service team was, and how easy the checkout process was. By combining order management or warehouse management software with a shipping solution, like DesktopShipper, your business can take the most effective and streamlined approach to fulfilling the needs of consumers.