10 Order Fulfilment Tips to Handle Peak Season Sales

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What is order fulfilment?

Order fulfilment comprises the process of receiving and processing goods intended for distribution to customers. This approach covers a whole range of systems and tasks, with the three main steps receiving an order, picking the items, processing them and then shipping these out to customers.

The order fulfilment process aims to ensure a brilliant experience for the end-user, or customer, from the initial sales inquiry through to delivery. Whether you require advice on product fulfilment in the form of food and drink for your Amazon account or WooCommerce store, Cloud9 Fulfilment can help.

Utilising our expert knowledge in fulfilment, we have compiled a handy guide of 10 tips to help you throughout the incoming peak season sales. Cloud9Fulfilment understands that this can be an extremely stressful period, especially when you are new to the game - so let us give you a hand!

What are the peak seasons of the year?

The peak shipping season for eCommerce sales is usually from October throughout the new year, with 59% of consumers in Europe planning their holiday shopping before November. This organisation allows consumers to capitalise on discounted days, such as Black Friday, to obtain all their loved ones presents for a great deal ahead of time!

However, there are several vital holidays, inside and outside of this period, with dates that vary each year. All online retailers should be aware of and prepared for these events as follows:

To meet the demand of peak season and beyond, we have put together ten helpful tips that will aid you in fulfilling all orders. Through the provision of excellent services, you will exceed sales targets and experience growth within your business.


Conduct research and planning

Forecasting your inventory requirements in advance will ensure that you can avoid running out of stock alongside understanding your target audience and market. Many eCommerce businesses do not prepare adequately for the peak season. As a result of research, you can lay the groundwork for success and ultimately grow your sales.

There are several areas where pre-sales research is beneficial, including observing the perceptions and expectations of customers and market research. Other vital methods are sales insight and lead qualification. These measures allow you to develop your ideal buyer and demographic, ensuring that your sales team has powerful insights to convert inquiries to sales while saving time. No one wants to spend an hour on the phone with someone who will not purchase a product!


Obtain manufacturing capacity

Manufacturing capacity is vital to ensure that you can meet demand. The standard way to achieve this is by increasing the number of machines used to create products, improving production capacity. This boost may also be achieved by either purchasing new equipment or introducing outsourcing.

The outsourcing process allows you to source more workspace without expanding your workforce, which is particularly beneficial for seasonal or trending products. You may additionally consider drop shipping. This system will allow you to deliver the same products to your consumers without using valuable warehouse space or manufacturing capacities.


Stock up

In the peak ordering season, items are likely to fly out of stock, especially if you are stocking the correct and high-quality units for your consumer demographic. As a result of the research you have conducted, you should know how roughly how many units to order, which will be the most popular, and which are likely to need restocking ASAP.

Remember to source inventory early and predetermine any necessary lead times from suppliers or the labour required to restock your products. Due to shipping delays caused by Brexit, there are often seasonal fluctuations in shipping time. By being prepared, you can know precisely how many products you need, ensuring sufficient stock without overstock or stockouts. This preparation is vital for more expensive items, such as electronics.

If you can keep on top of stock levels, your consumer demographic may view you as a reliable source and subsequently conduct repeat orders in the future.


Get hiring

Staff are essential for order fulfilment, providing vital support when pushing those seasonal sales. Whether warehouse staff to help you with stock or well-trained sales staff - it is often the more, the better! Setting up extra shifts and overtime is also a beneficial short-term strategy that will enable you to complete more work around the clock.

Depending on the nature of the products, you can introduce seasonal contracts. This measure is particularly beneficial for seasonal products, such as camping and outdoors. Subcontracting work is also an option to ensure staff are not overwhelmed.

While hiring staff, you should consider that a training period may be necessary for both warehouse and sales staff. Whether guiding your team on the warehouse layout or providing in-depth product training, workforce preparation means sales are likely to flourish.


Ensure your warehouse layout is optimal

Whether you are just starting, have finally purchased your first warehouse or have been operating for years, the layout of a warehouse is vital to ensure prime order fulfilment. Warehouse optimisation requires careful planning and assessing, considering warehouse processes, best practices, supply chain planning, budgeting financing, and so much more!

Some of the key elements to consider when selecting a warehouse to store your goods are as follows:

  • The size and space requirements.
  • The lease cost and considering a buy-out clause in your lease in case of emergencies.
  • Location and features of the warehouse, such as a loading dock, staging station and returns station.
  • Demographics and the ability to find qualified and experienced staff.
  • The future and whether this space will enable you to grow.

Once you have selected the perfect space, it is time for detailed planning! This process includes several measures. These comprise measuring your warehouse space and obstacles awareness to ensure smooth trips for any forklifts and deciding on dedicated stations. Stations required inside your site may include a receiving, packing, staging, shipping, and returns station (to name a few), so it is vital to have these planned out! Please also note that you may be required to have additional hygiene stations when working with perishable items, such as food and drink or pet supplies.

You can save time and space by having easy-to-find or reach items, especially the in-demand units, placed on the best shelving that suits your needs. This measure may benefit from introducing a clearly labelled, with all aisles and products marked out for ease.

Remember to supply workers with substantial forklifts to guarantee smooth material flow paths, and do not be afraid to run a test run or two!


Automate processes

An automated warehouse has several outstanding benefits. These include faster order processing, precise order management, a boost in storage space and capacity and an improvement in the health and safety within your site!

But, what IS warehouse automation, you ask? Warehouse automation comprises replacing the repetitive tasks completed by individuals with automated systems. The software used in these systems is often highly sophisticated, with the software offered by Cloud9Fulfilment capable of:

  • Order management
  • Inventory management
  • Warehouse management
  • Shipping management
  • Returns management

Such system benefits include reducing human error and minimising labour costs while boosting inventory control and workplace safety while optimising operations.


Provide efficient delivery methods

A smoothly run and efficient warehouse is vital for customer satisfaction. Now that you have optimised your warehouse layout, conducted research, stocked up and more, you will be able to complete fast delivery requirements!

It can be tricky choosing between domestic carriers (and international carriers if you have established a global market), but take into consideration the location of your warehouse and your key customer demographic. Once you have chosen, you can often negotiate the shipping rates and discuss the pick-up times for units.

By offering several options to your consumers, such as same-day dispatch with warehouse automation, products will be flying off the shelves in no time. Remember not to forget the basics - high-quality tape dispensers in suitable spaces will go a long way!


Offer follow-up sales with discounts or special offers

Once you have dazzled your consumer base with your high-quality products and efficient delivery processes to establish yourself, you can offer discounted rates. By offering discounts, you can attract new customers, appeal to your pre-existing base and more, including:

  • Increasing sales
  • Free up storage space
  • Fulfil sales objectives
  • Cultivate loyalty
  • Boost brand awareness and reputation

In addition to offering discounts throughout the regular sales period, these can be particularly effective during the peak sales season to draw purchasing power towards your business. 


Enable smooth returns processes

As peak season sales happen, the number of returns may increase. While this can sometimes occur due to damaged or defective products, many people return items due to unmet expectations or events that you, as the merchant, have no control over.

With hundreds of packages returned to eCommerce fulfilment sites throughout this period, many warehouses often struggle to cope with the high volume of items. This problem is sometimes due to aged software or a lack of planning regarding returns processes.

A return may impact your physical inventory, electronic inventory and accounting system, with all items identified and assigned before being physically sorted. The nature of a return is therefore inherently complex.

Want to ensure smooth return processes for the consumer? Your returns services should match the delivery services offered in choice and ease. In addition, you should encourage email feedback from customers, which may provide vital tips for improving customer service. Introducing an automated fulfilment software may also help, enabling users to complete returns via high-tech software.


Learn from previous years

Reviewing previous processes and experiences throughout peak season sales is a great way to learn from past mistakes. You may have experienced a lack of stock, supplemented by not using the best, most up-to-date technology or even lacking staff. No worries, these problems are common and easily remedied!

If you are disheartened by not achieving your growth sales, remember that e-commerce is a rapidly changing industry with fierce competition. By learning from your mistakes and utilising the tips outlined in this article, you can grow your sales and enable the expansion of your business. You will be mastering those peak season sales in no time!

Any questions you may have, our specialist team can answer. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have and see what we can offer your business.

Our fulfilment experts can answer any questions you may have. Please do not hesitate to contact us, and learn more about what we can do for you and your business.

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