As an e-commerce business owner, you are aware of the demands which the Christmas season brings. But with online shopping increasing year on year, and further boosted by the pandemic, 2021 is set to be your busiest yet! To help you make it through to Christmas Eve without burning the midnight oil too much, we’ve pulled together our top tips to coping with seasonal demand and maximising your profits at this crucial time for your business.
There are few e-commerce businesses for whom Christmas is not the busiest time of year, and even if you have strong summer ranges you have no doubt also developed seasonal lines to take advantage of this bumper consumer period.
Whether you set out as an e-retailer or you diversified last year as a business survival strategy in the face of the pandemic, the evidence suggests that online shopping is going to continue to play a key role in ensuring stockings are full on Christmas morning. In fact, a new report suggests that one in three people expected to shop exclusively online this Christmas!
With widely reported supply chain problems, many shoppers are also placing their orders early to ensure there are no disappointed faces on Christmas Day, so potentially your festive season may be an even longer marathon than usual. To make sure you’re not too tired to enjoy the mince pies and crackers, we’ve pulled together some key strategies to help you keep on top of Christmas demand and improve your bottom line.
- Preparation is key for e-commerce success: To guarantee an effective operational flow for your e-commerce business and ensure happy customers regardless of an increase in demand, it is vital to plan. This is particularly important if you are a business who relies on supplies to make your product or imports. Order in good time to avoid those dreaded supply chain issues affecting your ability to reach your full potential this Christmas.
Having good relations with your suppliers will help here – and it’s never been more important than at a time like the present when there are global supply issues. Picking up the phone occasionally rather than relying solely on emails, carefully-timed thank you presents and taking the time to know them as a person and what’s going on in their lives will all help. After all, if stocks are running low or deliveries being held up, who are you going to give a heads up to place a timely order: the person who treats you like a number or the customer who asked how your daughter’s graduation went?
- Be budget aware: Identifying which products you expect to be most successful and ordering your stock accordingly is straight-forward. But ensuring cashflow remains steady and your investment is not too ambitious is key; invoicing swiftly coupled with tight payment terms will help. Also make sure you are budgeting for extra time spent, and that costs such as fast delivery are built in to your prices.
- E-commerce helpers needed: Santa couldn’t do it without his elves… if you feel as though you may struggle with the workload and the pressure of the increased sales, consider outsourcing or hiring a temporary worker. Whether it is packing boxes or handling customer service enquiries, think about where your time is best spent and where someone else could do just as good a job – and enable you to get some shut-eye in the process, to make sure driving your e-commerce business doesn’t drive you into the ground.
- Perfect packaging for e-commerce order fulfilment: Ordering the materials and supplies needed to make your product and fulfil your e-commerce orders is one thing, but it’s also important to remember what’s needed to post your product to customers. Make sure to stock up on bubble wrap, boxes (especially any bespoke sizes or branded packaging), tape, insert materials and labels prior to the Christmas rush! Hopefully you have a checklist from last year, so you know exactly what you need and how much; if not, make sure you start it this year so you’re not reinventing the wheel next year.
- Parcel problems: Whether it’s receiving supplies before Christmas or helping to minimise the disruption with the inevitable returns that come after, you have better things to do when running an efficient e-commerce business than to keep downing tools to take receipt of deliveries. And you definitely have better ways to spend your time than rebooking missed deliveries or driving to the (often not-so-) nearby delivery depot. A solution to enable you to finish priority tasks, such as order fulfilment, without interruption and use your time more effectively is a parcel delivery box, such as the Penn Parcel Box.
When investing in a parcel delivery box, it’s worth looking for key features to ensure it will meet your needs:
- Secure – make sure you chose a parcel box with a secure, one-way delivery system and a lockable storage container
- Size – with lots of deliveries coming into your e-commerce business, make sure you chose a delivery parcel box big enough to accommodate several packages
- Weather-proof – losing components, supplies or returns to the elements is highly damaging for your e-commerce profit margins