Overcoming Common Ecommerce Holiday Shipping Challenges
US shoppers have shown a renewed interest in spending money on electronics, jewelry, and clothes in recent months. And because of this, retail analysts are expecting this urge to splurge to fuel the holiday season.
Compared with last year, sales in November and December 2021 are expected to be up 7%—reaching $800 billion!
Is your business’s supply chain prepared for the 2021 holiday season? Keep reading to learn about common holiday shipping challenges and how to combat them during uncertain times caused by disruptions like COVID-19.
What Are the Most Common Shipping Challenges Faced by Ecommerce Retailers?
Many retailers are still facing challenges presented by COVID-19, but you must also be prepared to undertake the volatility of the holiday buying season. Let’s take a look at the most common shipping problems that retailers will face in Q4.
Reduced Staff in Fulfillment Centers and Warehouses
Typically, all companies require all-hands-on-deck during the busy season, especially during rising ecommerce spending. However, many companies are still dealing with social distancing regulations and quarantine—especially in areas across the world that COVID-19 is heavily impacting.
The holiday season leads to a higher volume of shipments, which means many businesses face the challenge of protecting their employees while keeping the supply chain running.
Not Enough Inventory to Meet Demand
Even the slightest change in customer demand can lead to massive inefficiencies in the supply chain—creating a bullwhip effect.
For example, in the early weeks of the pandemic, people panic-buying led to extensive shortages of essential products (remember the toilet paper crisis?) and, in some industries, surpluses of non-essential products. You must evade low inventory levels and stockouts to meet customer demand.
Poor Focus on Customer Experience
Over the past year, a sharp rise in online spending habits has revealed inefficiencies in the ability of companies to produce positive customer experiences. In fact, one in four customers reported a poor customer online shopping experience last year. Typically, the reasons range from a poor user experience to undesirable fulfillment options.
You can build and maintain a loyal customer base without providing customer experiences that foster trust. You must provide a good experience—even during the busiest time of the year—so that they’ll return to your store in the future.
Improper Order Tracking and Communication
When one of your customers trusts your brand by choosing to buy from your store even though there are endless options to choose from, you have to uphold their faith in your business.
Place yourself in the shoes of a buyer who just spent their money to buy something from you, only to find out that they lose control of their order when they’re looking into the status of their purchase. Now more than ever, deliveries can sometimes take longer than necessary, even if they’re expedited. In this case, do you want to leave your customer hanging between the updates you send them? The better way to handle this is to provide them with a smooth order tracking experience to keep them engaged with your brand throughout the process.
You know what happens when your customers cannot track their orders—they pick up the phone and call you. And this uptick in the number of calls you receive isn’t a pretty metric. First, it lowers the bandwidth of your customer support team. They’re busy answering calls and emails, which could have been automated instead of looking into more urgent issues other customers may be dealing with.
Companies Ensuring the Safety of Their Employees
Companies must place high consideration for the health and safety of their employees to keep supply chains running efficiently. Ensuring the safety of their staff can entail a revamp of their processes to include protective gear, regular and thorough cleaning of workstations, and more.
While all of this leads to an added cost, it’s worth it. If you risk the health and safety of your employees, you risk your business staying in business and making it through the holiday season and the rest of Q4 successfully.
This is game time, and fulfilling customer demand during the busy holiday season with swift and timely delivery is critical.
How to Overcome 2021 Holiday Shipping Challenges
Now that you’re familiar with some common holiday shipping challenges you’re likely to face this year, it’s time to talk about optimizing your logistics to get in front of these issues. The digitization of your supply chain should be in your plan, as this will strengthen your processes to be more resilient against future disruptions.
Gain Supply Chain Transparency and Real-Time Data
A significant step in building a resilient supply chain that can handle holiday demand is enabling real-time visibility into your supply chain process. This means gathering data—a lot of it.
Increased visibility into your supply chain processes allows you to control each stage of your product lifecycle better. You can resolve issues in real-time and keep your supply chain running efficiently during the holidays with that level of control.
Also, greater visibility enables predictive technology that can accurately forecast product demand. You don’t have to worry about stockouts and low inventory issues during the holiday season with this information. An integrated platform that allows you to automate your processes based on accurate data is what you need to survive.
Don’t Put All of Your Eggs in One Basket
You must diversify suppliers and freight carriers. If you depend on just one or a couple of suppliers and shipping carriers, you may not be able to meet demand.
Relying heavily on new partners is a risk, but if this global disruption has proved anything, it’s how essential it is to diversity to enable a flexible supply chain. You can better handle holiday demand and avoid slowing down your logistics processes with additional partners.
Seamlessly Communicate Between Suppliers, Carriers, and Customers With Better Technology
While the shift to shopping online had been coming for some time, it’s now more prevalent than ever as employees continue to work from home.
It’s vital to communicate with your partners in real-time so you can allow faster action when facing disruptions. You can accommodate issues you encounter during the holidays with a free flow of information. What’s critical to building a flexible and robust supply chain? Communication.
Now, thanks to intelligent technology and innovations, you can pull tracking back from your distributors and carriers in real-time and track your orders in a single dashboard. This level of visibility helps you communicate with customers regarding their orders.
Solve Your Holiday Shipping Challenges With Flxpoint
This year, you should expect a holiday shopping dash like never before. Holiday shipping challenges will be standard, so leveling up your company’s order fulfillment and logistics processes is vital. Through real-time data, greater visibility, and additional preparation, you can ride the wave and make the most out of this holiday season.
Are you interested in how Flxpoint can help you better prepare for the holiday shopping rush? Reach out to us today for a tailored demo of the Flxpoint platform by one of our experts.
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