Preparing Your eCommerce Operations For The Holidays
by Jillian Voege
September 12, 2017
When your calendars flip to Q4, you know it’s make-or-break time for your business. For the average brand, the holidays account for 20% of annual revenue, and with each passing year, the holidays extend themselves just a little bit more. At this point in the year, you’ve probably done a fair amount of advance planning in order to maximize your holiday revenues, so we prepared a list for you to gutcheck your operations and ensure that they’re truly ready for the oncoming rush.
1. Make sure you and your partners are staffed properly
On your end, this isn’t just about hiring enough hands to help push out orders, it’s also about ensuring that your staff is properly trained BEFORE the rush happens. More orders mean more chances for errors, and customers will be a lot less forgiving about delayed or cancelled orders when it comes to their holiday shopping. Make sure that you keep mistakes at a minimum and invest a little more in staff training before they’re put to the test.
As for your partners, keep lines of communication open and inquire about their own staffing when the holidays hit. Even major carriers can run into staffing shortages that hold up your entire supply chain, so keep yourself updated on how your partners are preparing for the holidays.
2. Finalize your catalog
This is usually the time when you’ll be releasing new products to help drum up demand (this is a given if you’re an apparel brand). First, make sure that your entire holiday catalog is logged into your WMS and OMS systems. Second, see if the new SKUs require any kind of specialized handling or packaging during fulfillment. Third, identify the products that pair well with the new SKUs and notify your operations team of such pairings. Preparing your catalog in this manner will keep your operations team up-to-date and less prone to making costly mistakes with your new products.
3. Make sure Marketing/Sales and Operations are totally in sync
The holidays are a time to be aggressive with your sales goals. You should already have campaigns set up for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the lead up to Christmas, as well as any promotions or campaigns to drum up interest throughout Q4. That being said, it’s important for your marketing and sales teams to be in complete sync with your operations team. Drumming up too much demand for products can lead to backorders or cancelled orders that ruin the shopping experience, cost money, and chase away potential return customers. Everyone needs to be on the same page when it comes to sales projections, inventory projections, and fulfillment projections.
As you ramp up your holiday planning, it’s imperative to ensure that your operations team is ready to take on the inevitable surge of orders. Any kind of operations hiccup can cost you dearly in the most crucial season for your business, so it’s wise to double-check everything to ensure that you can get through the holidays smoothly and much more flush with revenue.