Perfecting retail logistics for seasonal events
You know what's worse than being the parent who can't get their children the right school supplies for the school year or their most desired present for the holidays? Being the retailer who let that parent down. When merchants don't have the right products in stock at the right time or can't deliver them according to schedule, they risk doing serious damage to their reputation. If retailers can't come through in the clutch, the offended customer likely won't do businesses with them again
Yet, every year, you hear about retailers failing to not only meet the expectations of customers, but even their own promises. Whether it's Independence Day, Valentine's Day, back-to-school season or the winter holidays, you'll see dozens of retailers running out of stock and not being able to get products to consumers.
This isn't just a small retailer problem either – for instance, in 2011, Best Buy was unable to fill orders from Black Friday in time for Christmas, which disappointed many customers and drew many complaints via social media.
Getting retail logistics under wraps
When it comes to not being able to stock and deliver goods, the culprit tends to be logistics. The U.S. infrastructure system is one that is beginning to show its age, and when every retailer and distributor is trying to get goods to physical stores or customers during high-volume seasons, operations are often slow and cumbersome. Peak seasons, such as November and December, account for 50 percent of revenue retailers generate in an entire year, which illustrates how much shipping is done in the last two months of the year.
While there is very little that you can do about infrastructure system, the management of orders and inventory can go a long way in improving your ability to stock items and get them to consumers in a timely fashion. Traditionally, the merchants struck by peak season struggles have encountered this obstacle due to lax planning, poor supply chain visibility and making last-minute product orders.
"Over the last several years, after enduring record port congestion, an ongoing driver shortage, and a 10-day West Coast port shutdown that backlogged more than 300,000 ocean containers, the industry has better prepared to deal effectively with seasonality challenges," explains Inbound Logistics.
One contributor to improved logistics is the implementation of new technology and solutions that allow retailers and distributors to communicate more effectively. These platforms provide retailers with more visibility into the shipping of products so they can better determine costs and fulfill orders. For distributors, new technology gives them quicker access to orders so they can rapidly process the shipments – they don't need to wait for merchants to give them the order information.
ECommerce software, such as SalesWarp, provides this technology to connect retailers, distributors and suppliers to streamline and consolidate fulfillment, shipping and logistics processes onto a single platform. If knowledge and visibility are key to improving your shipping and order fulfillment operations, SalesWarp can play a critical role in making the process more accessible to everyone involved.