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5 Common Mistakes Enterprises Make During Peak Shipping Season

by EasyPost
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From October through December, businesses and enterprises see a significant spike in order and shipping volume. And trends show that these peaks are getting larger and larger year over year.

In 2020 alone, retail ecommerce sales in the United States totaled over 71 billion dollars. That’s 20 percent more than the 59.6 billion dollars spent in 2019. With so much money on the line, it’s essential to have smooth business and consumer operations during peak season.

The good news is that we know when to expect this annual surge and which errors to avoid. Here are five common mistakes we see enterprises make during peak shipping season and what you can do to prevent them.

Inventory mismanagement

Inventory management is a balancing act. During peak season, you want to have enough stock to cover the increase in demand, but not so much that you’re left with a surplus of inventory post-peak. Stay on top of inventory management by knowing the limitations of your warehouse, choosing the right software, and keeping your website up to date.

When inventory doesn’t sell, it becomes costly. Businesses often resort to markdowns to get these products to move off the shelves. In 2018, non-grocery retailers in the U.S. lost 12 percent of their total sales, totaling $300 billion in revenue, according to a Celect study.

Whether you own a small business and stow your inventory in your garage or operate an entire warehouse for a large corporation, it’s essential to use this space wisely. Certain stock will go out of season, out of style, or otherwise, lose its value throughout the year. When that inventory doesn’t sell, it becomes dead stock and comes at a cost for the business.

Most inventory management software goes beyond keeping an accurate stock count. Many use AI and machine learning to offer end-to-end views into order data, which can be used to improve forecasting and scale as your business grows. A good inventory management software will even integrate with your website to prevent over-ordering and update out-of-stock notices.

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Outdated technology

Minimize disruptions and maximize efficiency by using reliable shipping logistics technology. During peak season, outdated technology and excessive downtime can cause significant revenue loss.

At EasyPost, we know all about what businesses are looking to get out of a modern shipping API – and we’ve made it a reality. In 2020, we had 100% uptime throughout peak season, and we’re setting ourselves up to do it again in 2021. In a single integration, EasyPost is compatible with over 100 shipping carriers. Beyond that, we’ve built a variety of APIs that help with address verification, rating, tracking, and insurance.

Updating your shipping technology can impact nearly every aspect of your business. From optimizing your warehouse efficiency to rating and tracking packages, and improving customer experience, utilizing a modern shipping API can save you both time and money.

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Slow shipping

Online shoppers have dwindling patience for slow shipping. Since the introduction of Amazon Prime, two-day, one-day and, even same-day shipping have become the norm. And this has become the standard among shoppers. A survey from Convey showed that customers prioritize two-day shipping as the most important delivery service.

If your shipping is slow, it could cost you and your customers in the long run. When it takes two weeks for a package to arrive, buyers may grow impatient and will most likely remember this experience the next time they’re online shopping. 67% of shoppers in the Convey survey said they wouldn’t shop with a brand again after a poor delivery experience.

Particularly around the holidays, it’s crucial to avoid slow shipping. If someone orders a Christmas present for a loved one on Black Friday and the package takes over a month to arrive, the holiday has already passed. To keep customers satisfied, fast shipping is a must – especially during peak season.

Slower Mail Delivery Ahead Road Sign

Not planning ahead

You can never be too prepared. Data and forecasting are the keys to success when it comes to peak season preparations. When laying the groundwork for your peak season forecasts, consider factors like historical data, planned promotions, current stock levels, and recent trends.

Have a plan for when hurdles get in the way. For example, if a product goes out of stock, have a system to mark that on the product page and prevent customers from buying it. On the other hand, when you accumulate deadstock, plan to run and promote flash sales to clear out inventory.

The work doesn’t stop after the holidays either. After peak season, go back and review how accurate your forecasting was, how effective your plans were, and where you can improve for next year. When you do find elements of your plan that need to change, implement the improvements sooner rather than later, so you don’t run into the same problems next year.

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Unoptimized processes

Optimized processes are essential to having smooth operations in your warehouse and improving customer service. Suppose a package leaves your warehouse with the wrong label and arrives at the wrong destination. In that case, you need strong enough logistics to keep this from happening again and helpful customer service to make the process painless for the customer.

When people ask about improving processes today, the answer usually involves improving technology. This can include warehouse management systems, multi-carrier shipping APIs, implementing a barcode or RFID system, automated picking tools, and more. These tools can help you streamline your process and prevent mishaps.

Some of these solutions are more expensive than others. When optimizing processes throughout your business, it all comes back to what your priorities are to meet the unique needs of your business.

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How to manage a successful peak season

In 2021, the National Retail Foundation expects holiday sales to increase by 8.5% - 10.5% over 2020. And at this time, more shoppers than ever are buying online. Businesses and enterprises are bound to make logistical mistakes from time to time. By properly navigating these hurdles and learning from them, you might find yourself ahead of the competition.

To successfully manage peak season, you have to prepare for these mistakes before peak season hits. Improve inventory management, update your technology, use multiple carriers, plan, and optimize your processes. It’s all possible to avoid them if you begin planning today.

EasyPost can help you get started. Our multi-carrier shipping API supports thousands of large and small companies to achieve fast, flexible, and reliable shipping. You can get started in minutes when you sign up for free today.

Person Placing Present Inside Shipping Box