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How To Get Ready For Peak in 2022

by Simon Bragg on 26th April 2022

Getting ready for peak can occur at very different times depending on your business. When you think of peak online orders your mind will jump towards the end of the year with Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas and then Boxing Day sales. While this is true for a lot of businesses there are also other peak times depending on what you sell.

If you sell stationery your peak period might be the back to school rush or if you’re in the fitness sector your peak might be in January as everyone makes their new years resolutions. While everyone’s peak might occur at different times there are things that you can do to make your peak run smoother. After working with a range of clients over many years we’ve learnt a thing or two about making fulfilment run smoothly during peak times.

 

What You Can Do To Prepare For Peak

Talk to the experts

Order fulfilment can be complicated with so many moving parts to the system and the expectations your customers have. It’s well worth having a chat with your fulfilment provider a few months in advance of your peak as they can offer you some tips on how your business can best prepare. If you’re new to outsourced fulfilment then this is especially important as you won’t have access to data from previous years. We’re always happy to chat with our customers to see how we can make your life easier during your busiest periods.

 

Use data from previous years

The data you have from previous peak periods will be invaluable and it’s well worth gathering as much information as possible from your fulfilment software, marketing and sales teams. Using this information will give you an idea of how much stock needs to be ordered, how many orders you’ll receive and in what volumes orders will enter the fulfilment system. If you have this information to hand it can be beneficial to share this with your fulfilment provider and then they can plan ahead to meet your demand.

 

Make sure teams communicate

Making sure your customer service, marketing and sales team are on the same page is an often forgotten but crucial part of making your peak period run smoothly. Customer service representatives will need to know what marketing will be running to anticipate any questions they may receive. Sales teams need to communicate what the priority products are and be prepared to receive an influx of product-specific questions. Marketing will need feedback from both the customer service and sales team so that campaigns can be adjusted on the fly and to make sure that out of stock products are no longer being promoted.

 

Keep customers updated

It’s important to keep customers up to date. This involves giving them updates if there will be a delay in shipping or when products become out of stock. If your peak is around Black Friday and the run-up to Christmas, it’s important to let your customers know if there will be any delays in delivery, or any cut-off points if they need their items before Christmas.

Make sure your customer service team can handle the extra demand
When you receive a large spike in orders during your peak period it’s important to make sure that your customer service team can also handle the volume of enquiries they’ll receive.

This is especially important for businesses specialising in FMCG as there will be a number of competitors your customers can turn to if you can’t answer their questions in a timely manner. If you’re a small business with a small team who can offer support, it can be easier to reduce the number of channels you take support queries from. This way all of the information flows through one central place that everyone can access.

 

Prepare to sell out

Ideally, you’d have enough stock to cover all the orders you receive during peak periods however this isn’t always the case. If your marketing is very successful and causes a surge of orders or your restocking shipment is delayed you can quickly sell out.

By putting a plan in place before this happens you can make customers aware so they don’t order items that won’t arrive. You can still make a sale by recommending similar products on your site. There are two main ways to deal with items going out of stock:

  1. You can decide to keep taking orders but make it clear on your website that it’s out of stock and will be shipped as soon as it’s back in stock. If you choose this route be sure to add an estimated dispatch date!
  2. If your product is out of stock and your customers can’t wait or you’re unsure when your next restock will arrive, you can promote a similar item or even a more expensive model that is in stock. This can work well in the run-up to Christmas as people want to get all their shopping done in one go, even if they have to spend a little more.

 

Website Performance

Peak sales also mean peak website traffic. Before your peak period starts and traffic to your website sharply increases it is a good idea to review whether your website can handle the expected increase in traffic. Depending on the size of your business this might be a case of reaching out to your website host or internal IT team to make sure that your website can handle the expected increase. Even an extra few seconds in loading time can make the difference between making a sale and having your users find a faster site. A commonly quoted study from Amazon showed every 100ms in added page load time cost them 1% in sales.

 

What We Do To Prepare As Your Fulfilment Provider

Getting ready for peak isn’t just something our customers have to do. With the increase in the number of orders, we need to make sure that we can pick, pack and ship your orders to your customers just as we would any other time of year.

 

Make sure systems are up to speed

Our order management system is the key interconnect between your online shop and our warehouse teams. Before peak, we make sure that our order management system is running smoothly and there are no delays or errors fetching orders from your store. We also make sure our warehouses are set up to receive and store the extra stock that our customers have ordered.

 

Returns Management

With more orders going out over the peak period, there will also be more returns to manage. At Whitehouse Solutions, our returns management process is designed to handle this increase in potential returned orders. Our staff will carefully examine any returns against the criteria you specify to determine whether they can be restocked, reworked or if they should be sent back to you.

 

Packaging

More orders mean more packaging. Before the peak period, we make sure that we stock up on extra packing material ready for the increased demand in orders. If you order your custom packaging as part of our value-added services we will get in contact with you to see whether you require us to hold more of this, ready for an increase in orders.

 

Time To Get Ready For Your Peak

If your peak time is coming up we recommend starting to put together a checklist of everything you need to get ready to meet the rush. This can then be something you revisit and add to every year with what you’ve learnt from the previous years. If you need some extra advice on how your business can prepare for peak then speak to one of our order fulfilment experts today.

 

Packing an order ready for dispatch

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