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How to manage the E-commerce peak season demand: A checklist for retailers and warehouses

Use our checklist to help you decrease stress levels and help you manage the ecommerce peak season smoothly and efficiently.

Ecommerce Integrations Inventory Management

by Danielle Allen

Digital Content Manager

Posted 14/10/2021

Peak retail season can be one of the most rewarding times for ecommerce – but at the same time – the most stressful. As new online purchasing habits collide with peak season sales, online retailers can expect larger shipping volumes, carrier capacity issues, rising transport costs, and delivery delays. With record-breaking order volumes coming and shipping issues arising, it’s more important than ever to be well prepared for peak season.

When is the E-commerce peak season?

Peak season for ecommerce typically runs from November to January as demonstrated by the graph below from The Office of National Statistics UK internet retail sales data, and includes multiple seasonal events that influence ecommerce sales.

Graph demonstrating the peak season for online retail sales

In November, Black Friday and Cyber Monday have a huge impact on online order volumes – a large amount of retailers no longer only offer sales on the Black Friday weekend, it can be a week or month-long event. December sees an influx of orders as shoppers are buying Christmas gifts, and January is a busy month due to January sales and returns or exchanges of unwanted Christmas presents.

When should I start preparing for the E-commerce peak season?

The best time to prepare for peak season is a good few months earlier. Customers want fast, accurate deliveries and by having the relevant technology and an innovative order management software, you’ll be able to offer your clients access to a large network of couriers – something that will make you stand out over competitors. 

Online shoppers now choose convenience over brand loyalty, meaning how orders are picked and packaged, delivery costs and timings, and ease of returns all matter.

We’ve put together some actionable strategies and tactics you can implement to increase your ecommerce peak season success this year:

1. Stock up and plan the right inventory

It can often feel like a balancing act to ensure you have enough stock to cover the Black Friday/Cyber Monday to Christmas season – but not too much – as storing slow-moving stock can be costly and take up valuable warehouse space. Accurate forecasting, as well as having a clear picture of your inventory management, means fewer sleepless nights as you’ll know what you need to order in from suppliers more frequently so you can continue to fulfil your customer orders.

Investing in ecommerce management software will help determine which products are likely to be in high demand while automatically syncing real-time stock levels. The software allows you to keep a close eye on your daily stock levels meaning you can use further clearance sales during peak times to help clear extra inventory. Free up shelf space and convert your stock into cash. 

2. Automate order processing

Customer expectations are at an all-time high – there will be no room for errors when it comes to picking and packing orders this season. Something as small as an incorrect order, or missing item is enough for online retailers to lose customer loyalty. 

With high volumes of orders it can be easy to make mistakes when handling the order process. Automating your order process by implementing an order management system will reduce errors and help deliver a more responsive and consistent service, which is especially important when employees are extra busy.

Alongside having an order management software in place, we recommend implementing mobile barcode picking. Mobile barcode picking is an extremely popular, widely used technology in distribution centres and warehouses that have outgrown their paper-based processes. 98% picking accuracy is industry standard. Barcode scanners can save valuable time and reduce errors with up to 100% picking accuracy. This allows you to book your inbound deliveries and manage warehouse inventory, reduce errors, and allows real-time inventory visibility. 

3. Increase shopping and system integrations

When you manage different online stores or offer your products through marketplaces like Amazon, it can be difficult to keep track of all incoming orders and stock levels for each ecommerce store. 

For this reason, it can be helpful to connect all your online stores and marketplaces to one order management system, like Mintsoft. By connecting online stores and marketplaces into one account you can capture new audiences and sell wherever you are. Mintsoft offers over 175+ integrations including shopping cart and marketplace integrations, such as WooCommerce, Shopify, Magento, and Amazon. Explore all the integrations Mintsoft has to offer

Managing all your systems in one place also means you can easily switch between different integrations to process orders. This means your warehouse, inventory, and shipping systems can communicate data in real-time. 

4. Get your logistics in place

One of the biggest challenges during the peak season is shipping. If you’re doing everything in-house, make sure your fulfilment team is ready to prepare and ship high volumes of products as fast as they can. If it’s becoming too much, it might be time to consider outsourcing this responsibility.

Customers are forever demanding shorter delivery times. Strategies such as “Same-day delivery”, “Express delivery” or “Next day delivery” are all prominent crowd pullers.

Warehouse and logistics management are crucial for the peak season. Implementing a warehouse management system helps you take control of your tasks and increase staff productivity which can save you time and money. Adopting smart shipping rules means courier services can be automatically selected based on the criteria you define. 

5. Overcome carrier capacity issues

The challenge of finding carriers for the coming season will be one of the greatest hurdles in the upcoming peak season. Due to high demand, many carriers have announced drastic cost increases and warned about slower delivery times, as well as raising fees beyond what we’ve seen before. 

If you haven’t already, leverage a multi-carrier strategy to get products to customers quickly and accurately. Connecting with multiple carriers is one of the best ways to increase both conversion rate and customer satisfaction. 

6. Exceed customer expectations

69% of shoppers wouldn’t purchase from a brand again if they received an item late, but online sellers can easily get caught up in day-to-day operations and leave the last mile decisions until it’s too late. Which is why exceeding customer expectations are important. If your customer's number one query is “Where’s my order?” pinpoint them to live order tracking, so they can follow their parcel’s journey. Better functionality means fewer customer service tickets to deal with during what’s going to be an incredibly busy, but successful time for your business.

Another way of adding value is to help them rate shops and find the best delivery prices and options. You can advise on delivery cut-offs by carrier, which meets your customers’ shipping expectations, and impacts the end recipient and their overall experience. 

7. Ensure continuous improvement

Once you’re done with the push for the ecommerce peak season, take time to analyse how it all went. What went well? What needs improvement? Don’t forget to look at every area affected by the peak season: your website, customer service, shipping, and marketing efforts. 

While order management software is vital during the peak season, it also helps you to stay streamlined across the entire year. With online sales set to increase year-on-year, cloud-based technology will help you overcome challenges and capitalise on opportunities every month of the year. It can also allow you to scale up or scale down depending on the expected (or even unexpected) peaks and troughs throughout the year.

Get prepared for the ecommerce peak season with Mintsoft

Start with making changes to your processes and the tech that you use, but don’t forget to have a conversation with your customers to get the most information about what’s ahead for you during peak season.

Having order management software (OMS) can help streamline operations by allowing for constant tracking and active monitoring of purchases and inventory levels across all available channels at every stage of the fulfilment process, rectifying any issues if they happen.

Mintsoft’s OMS works perfectly for both 3PLs and online sellers, offering both a means of communication and perfect visibility of what lies ahead. With over 60 standard marketplace integrations and over 80 UK and worldwide courier integrations, it helps you get on top of your inventory with real-time stock visibility.

If you’d like more information on how to choose the right OMS for your business, please read our Complete guide to Order Management Systems.

To find out how best to improve fulfilment and order management in advance of peak time ecommerce sales, check out Mintsoft’s video tour, or book a demo with a member of the team.

By Danielle Allen

Digital Content Manager

Danielle is a content manager at Access Mintsoft with an abundance of experience in the new and emerging technologies sector. Dedicated to providing ecommerce retailers and 3PL’s informative and easy-to-understand content that engages and empowers readers to learn about all things ‘order fulfillment’.