How to manage peak shipping season

By Danielle Allen
Peak Season Blog

The peak shipping season for ecommerce can be a demanding time for retailers and warehouses alike; the pressure to dispatch orders on time and in full alongside the demand for quick shipping can put stress on your warehouse processes and shipping carriers.


It’s important to be prepared ahead of peak season, and getting your operations in order to ensure smooth shipping processes is a large part of that. Below are our top tips for managing peak shipping season.


When is peak shipping season? 


Peak shipping season begins much earlier than you might expect, some logistics companies see spikes from mid-August through to November/December. It begins so early for shipping due to retailers, warehouses and stockists ordering inventory in preparation for the ecommerce peak season, which includes retail events such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas.


Shipping providers and couriers can continue to be in demand through November, December and January due to seasonal demand in ecommerce - delivering orders and returns. As a retailer or 3PL, this highlights why you need your shipping processes to be in top condition ready for the busy season ahead. 


Ensure you’re ready in time for peak season with our comprehensive peak season checklist


7 top tips for how to manage peak season shipping


1. Learn from last year’s peak shipping season trends


Data can be a powerful tool – for ecommerce peak shipping season, it can be especially useful to help predict the trends you’ll see. By looking back at previous years volumes of orders and shipments, as well as the types of products that were most popular, you can be well prepared for the peak season ahead.


2. Stock up on packaging


During a busy period like Black Friday or Christmas, you can quickly use a lot of packaging to ship a higher-than-usual volume of orders. Running out of packaging during peak season is less than ideal as it could slow down your deliveries, leading to bad customer service and customer dissatisfaction. With the potential added complication of delays to restock packaging from your suppliers, it’s crucial to ensure that your packaging supplies are well stocked.


3. Arrange your stock in accordance with popularity


Efficiency is going to be key to a successful peak shipping season; therefore your warehouse should be arranged to allow for items to be quickly dispatched. . Locating your most popular stock items in easy to reach areas and close to packing areas will help your staff to speed up the picking process and ensure swift shipping.


4. Build your shipping network


During ecommerce peak season, all couriers are under increased pressure with an influx of deliveries to make, while maintaining the same service level agreements (SLAs). As part of your peak season preparations, you must consider previous years and whether your shipping network could cope with your influx of orders and delivery options. For example, if you offer a short delivery time, can they ensure to meet your customers expectations? 


If you’ve experienced difficulties in previous years, it could be worthwhile expanding your shipping network to accommodate your anticipated shipping volume. 


5. Use shipping management software to help select the right carrier


When arranging shipping for each order, you do not need to do it all manually; there are tools such as shipping management software that can help you to select the most appropriate courier. For example, some shipping software will allow you to set up automated carrier selection rules based on package dimensions, weights and delivery locations and also auto-print labels to hasten the process.


6. Make shipping deadlines clear to your customers


Setting customer's expectations during peak season is essential, especially when it comes to Christmas gifts. Ensuring your site, your marketplaces, anywhere you’re advertising your products and your customer communications clearly state your last order date for Christmas delivery will help with overall customer satisfaction.


7. Prepare for higher rates of returns


A large volume of orders during peak season will inevitably result in some returns, and possibly more than your usual order to return ratio. Be prepared to receive returns and process them quickly – not only to ensure customers receive their refunds, but also so any stock (that is not faulty) can be redistributed into your inventory for future orders.


How can Mintsoft help you manage peak season shipping


Preparing for the busiest time of year in ecommerce starts weeks before November, as you begin analysing previous years data and stocking up on packaging and inventory. Having reliable systems and processes in place to help maintain your service levels and keep your customers happy can play a large part in ensuring your peak season runs smoothly. 


Mintsoft offers an order fulfilment system that can assist you to manage orders, warehouse operations, inventory and shipping all in one place and has over 150 integrations that will help bring together all of your selling platforms and additional systems to help run your business. 


If you’d like to learn more about Mintsoft’s capabilities, please book a demo with one of our team members for more information.