5 Top Challenges in Managing Peak Season Logistics
While the holiday season may be the most exciting time of the year, it can also be the most challenging when it comes to shipping logistics. According to Adobe Analytics, the 2021 holiday season has already brought in over $109.8 billion in sales. At the peak of Cyber Monday, consumers spent $12 million every minute. It's safe to say that peak season lives up to its name.
Increased demand combined with technological challenges, inefficient processes, and labor shortages can make for a perfect storm of obstacles when trying to meet the increased holiday demand. Here are some of the biggest challenges we see e-commerce sellers face in their peak season logistics – and how to avoid them.
The holiday season brings increased demand, but staying on top of your stock can be a balancing act. Order too much, and you'll have to sell it at a discounted price later. Order too little, and you'll have disappointed customers.
The best tool to estimate how much stock you'll need is data. Knowing last year's holiday figures, more recent trends, and planned promotions will help you get started. If you have tools like warehouse management software, inventory management software, or other fulfillment technology, be sure to leverage those.
Don't leave your customers in the dark, either. If something is out of stock, put a notice on your website – it's even better if you can notify them when it is replenished. If they're interested, you still might be able to pull off the sale.
Efficient and affordable shipping
In a perfect world, your customers would make their orders, and within minutes their orders would arrive at little to no shipping costs. Unfortunately, that is rarely the reality.
Give multi-carrier shipping a try to get the best rates and delivery times. With a shipping API, like EasyPost, you can compare your options between major and regional carriers. Especially during peak season, having choices helps you keep up with demand and minimize disruptions in your logistics process.
Shipping isn't a one-size-fits-all solution. Some customers prioritize faster shipping, while others don't care how long it takes to arrive as long as they don't have to pay for it. Implementing a shipping API is a win-win situation for you and your customer, giving them more options and streamlining your shipping logistics.
A lot of labor goes into producing, shipping, and delivering a product. This problem has been more apparent than ever in 2021 when labor shortages are impacting nearly every industry. In August 2021, 25% of merchants said they were struggling to find warehouse labor, a Digital Commerce 360 survey found.
But this isn't the first time the industry has seen a labor shortage. As e-commerce and shipping have skyrocketed, businesses have been struggling to keep up with demand. EmployBridge's Voice of the Blue-Collar Worker 2021 survey found that employees want advancement opportunities and positive company culture from their workplace beyond income. The more of these benefits you advertise and offer, the more likely you will attract and retain employees, especially throughout peak season.
As you prepare to fulfill an increased number of orders, heading into peak season, warehouse space may become more limited. On the other hand, a too large warehouse could make for wasted space throughout the rest of the year. It would be best if you found that Goldilocks medium.
In addition to capacity, warehouse management software can help you balance your inventory and scheduling throughout the year. It can help you become more aware of the materials you need, when to buy them, and when they're expected to run out.
If you want to forego managing your warehouse entirely, third-party logistics (3PL) companies are a great solution. Using a 3PL, you outsource your packaging, warehousing, transportation, and order fulfillment to another company with expertise in warehouse management. They can also offer advice for supply chain management and other logistical solutions.
Shipping technology has become much faster and reliable over time, and if you're using outdated software, you could be holding yourself back. At EasyPost, we pride ourselves on our 99.99% uptime – the most reliable in the industry.
Don't underestimate the benefits of using technology that integrates seamlessly with other platforms. That's also a priority at EasyPost. With our APIs, you can create shipping labels, verify addresses, track packages, and insure shipments all through one single interface.
Better technology will make your business more efficient all around. Outdated software will lead to more manual processes and errors throughout the workweek. When peak season hits, functioning technology can make or break your Black Friday performance.