Glass slippers. Jeans. Winter hats. There are a million products that are not one size fits all. That means consumers need to really do the research when making online purchase decisions, otherwise the risk for returns is strong. On the other side of that coin, ecommerce brand owners need to be just as careful when selecting their 3PL fulfillment service partners. Omnichannel fulfillment services are definitely not one size fits all, as every ecommerce brand is unique and has its own special needs. So if a company’s decision on which fulfillment services to go with is not shrewd, then they risk something much worse than a return, especially at this time of year.
Peak Season, otherwise known as Q4, is when the strengths and weaknesses of ecommerce fulfillment services stand out the most. ShipMonk wants all ecommerce businesses to shine during peak season, which is why we’ve prepped this overview of ecommerce brand solutions for a successful Q4.
Entrust Your Fulfillment Services to Facilities with the Best 3PL Automation
Technology paired with the talent and dedication of 3PL experts is an unbeatable combo. But technology is only helpful if it is used in strategic ways, which ShipMonk takes pride in perfecting year over year.
AMRs or Automated Mobile Robots move quickly across massive warehouse spaces without getting tired, losing speed, or diminishing in endurance during long peak season days. ShipMonk utilizes a brand of AMRs called Locus Robots to complete the consistent, monotonous task of picking items from all corners of our 12 colossal facilities. With this duty taken care of, our 3PL team members can concentrate on higher-level tasks related to packing and shipping.
#2 The Latest and Greatest for 3PLs
The above AMR-expert teamup gets items picked quickly and packed accurately. That is ShipMonk’s approach to harnessing 3PL technology in a nutshell. And it is this kind of ecommerce brand solution for a successful Q4 that you need to apply to your omnichannel fulfillment services.
Technology that eliminates wasted time without compromising on accuracy comes in many form, including:
- Cubiscan® Dimensioning Systems
- Automated Slotting Technology
- Tote De-Stackers
- Case Erectors
- Pick-to-Light Systems
- High-Speed Sortation Robots
- Case Sealers
- And More!
These tech tools ShipMonk employs have resulted in 4X faster pick times than the average 3PL and 99.9% order packing accuracy. Fulfillment services with those track records are pivotal to ecommerce businesses during peak season and beyond.
Appropriately Prep for All Major Sales and Promotions
Black Friday, Cyber Monday, the sale space in between, and the final Christmas countdown are four key periods your ecommerce brand must prepare for. We advise the following fulfillment service secrets for getting your ecommerce brand ready.
#1 Study the Data
It’s no happy accident that ShipMonk was adamant about including complete, real-time transparent data in the 3PL software our fulfillment services stem from. If you thoroughly familiarize yourself with previous year(s) sales, successes, and shortcomings you’ll be better prepared for this peak season. And if this is your first peak season utilizing omnichannel fulfillment services, look to other sales you’ve had throughout the year (i.e. Memorial Day, 4th of July, Mother’s Day, and so on). Though peak season tends to have the highest sales traffic, that doesn’t mean you can’t deduce good predictions from other peak times.
#2 Respect Deadlines
Some of the best prep you can do for a strong peak season is manage your deadlines. Regardless of what ecommerce fulfillment services your business uses, it is vital that you look at the data, order inventory, split your SKUs, decide on promotions, etc. with plenty of time to satisfy the deadlines associated with Q4. After all, it is not going to help your cause for Black Friday if you place orders from the manufacturer the Friday before.
So set internal and external deadlines accordingly. Know the cutoff for when your peak season inventory needs to be ordered by. Have a thorough timeline breakdown that team members can refer to. Ensure website staff, IT technicians, and customer service reps are hired, trained, briefed, and prepped well in advance. And get connected with your 3PL fulfillment services provider well in advance about any special needs for your products, shipping changes, and other matters so you’re all on a united front for what is expected and when. All of this is key to a successful Q4.
Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Uniqueness
Everyone is competing for views these days. Ecommerce brands have to especially up their game come Q4 to attract buyers to their products over competitors’. To do that, you need to stand out before and after.
#1 Show ‘Em What You Got
The most wonderful time of year is also the most competitive time of year. Peak season marketing is pivotal; your ecommerce brand needs to have solid content, social media, advertising campaigns across channels, and current plus prospective buyer targeting ready to consistently pump out through peak season. Any hope you have of Q4 dominance relies on being ready to show customers what you sell and why they should choose your products over those of others.
#2 Brand Everything
In terms of after-the-buy, we highly recommend leaning into differentiation through pizzazz the same way your ecommerce brand would invest in advertising and marketing to initiate a sale. After an order comes in you can still shine in the eyes of your customers by creating memorable branded moments. ShipMonk is delighted to lean into your ecommerce business brand guidelines by using custom packaging, personalized inserts, and branded order notifications so your company continues to separate itself from the competition.
Prioritize the User
No ecommerce brand can afford to tick off customers. There are so many options out there that if your business is to succeed in Q4 and every quarter beyond, you need to have systems in place to ensure the customer is content through all stages of the purchasing process that involve interaction with your ecommerce brand.
#1 Make Sure All Parties Are on the Same Page
It may seem like simple advice, but part of making people happy is telling them what they need to know. And what they need to know in regards to ecommerce orders is their status. Prior to going into peak season, learn how to utilize the power of the 3PL software that comes with your fulfillment services; harness that to set up order status notifications for all stages of the process, i.e. order received, order shipped, order out for delivery, and even assorted order delay messages should they be necessary.
On the opposite side of the information coin, communicate clearly with the people on your team. Ensure the 3PL executing your omnichannel fulfillment services knows what you want and how you want it done. Also verify that all members of your customer-facing staff have the information they need to provide top-tier customer service. They need to know everything; that way they can address and resolve inquiries efficiently. Q4 always comes accompanied by a spike in customer support requests, and your ecommerce brand needs to be ready to deal with that uptick and have multiple outlets for customers to reach out to ask questions.
#2 Prepare Return and Support Procedures
Ecommerce brand solutions for a successful Q4 are rooted in fulfillment services, but there are two opposing sides to that. Of course there’s the part where orders come in and get picked, packed, and shipped. Equally important is the reverse logistics aspect of order fulfillment services when customers aren’t happy with what they received. This dissatisfaction could be traced to many reasons, but the two overarching ones are the customer didn’t like it or there was a problem with the product. Whatever the specifics, for your ecommerce business to thrive in Q4 you can’t get bogged down by returns or make enemies of customers who experienced issues with orders.
Strong fulfillment services equipped to deter those negative results revolve around being frictionless, simple, and straightforward. In terms of returning items or exchanging them, work with your 3PL on standards and practices, as well as best shipping options. We’re committed to following those marching orders to protect your margins to the best of our ability. Meanwhile, have info on returns/exchange policies easily accessible on your website so customers are informed and there are no surprises or false expectations.
Meanwhile, your Q4 will benefit substantially from fulfillment services with package protection and a post-purchase suite in case orders have issues that require customers to file claims. ShipMonk is a clear leader in this area, thanks to our fully-integrated 3PL post-purchase suite MonkProtect. This offering has an easy-to-use claims portal where customers can report issues, a streamlined and automated approval process, branded tracking options, and much more to enhance your ecommerce brand with superior reverse logistics fulfillment services.
Q4 Solutions for You
Order fulfillment operations can be complex, complicated, and bring more logistical stress than filling a sleigh with enough toys for Santa to deliver worldwide. The situation is not Ho, Ho Hopeless though. ShipMonk has years of experience optimizing peak season for ecommerce brands. Our omnichannel fulfillment services are designed to handle volume, deadlines, and all types of orders. We hope your company can take away sage ideas from this blog about ecommerce brand solutions for a successful Q4. In quick review, we recommend harnessing:
- Fulfillment centers with strong, efficient technology and optimally organized slotting systems
- A full range of advertising and marketing content for catching customers plus branded packaging to stand out from the competition even after the order
- 3PL software with all the data you could ever need
- Thorough, yet simple and accessible customer support options to handle inquiries, resolve issues, and ease the reverse logistics process.
- Oh . . . and work with a 3PL that brings the best omnichannel fulfillment services to the table of course! Hint: it’s Shipmonk.
If you’re ready to queue up for the best Q4 yet, contact our 3PL team today to learn how our range of custom omnichannel fulfillment services offer the peak season solutions you’ve been searching for!