The holiday season is one of the most stressful times of the year for ecommerce merchants and customers alike. Although the promise of snow, presents, and togetherness is enjoyable, there’s no end of stress about whether or not a certain product will arrive in time for a gift-giving holiday, or whether stock will hold through the wintertime rush. By following these simple rules, however, it’s a snap to make sure peak season fulfillment is relaxing and stress-free for not only you and your company, but for your customers as well. Read on for our overview and tips.
Inventory planning, or forecasting, is the practice of using predictive analysis of historical sales data to estimate and make educated guesses about future customer demand for a product or service. It’s about far more than Googling how to manage inventory in Excel. This enables businesses to make better decisions regarding supply and the amount of inventory to keep on hand. It’s by no means an exact science, and will almost certainly never be 100% accurate. Because of the number of factors that can affect a customer’s willingness and ability to purchase a given product over time, the actual mechanics and techniques involved in demand forecasting can be quite difficult. It’s for this reason that many businesses use some sort of software or artificial intelligence to make the calculations on their behalf and track matters such as seasonality.
What’s seasonality, you may ask? Seasonality refers to changes in order volume throughout a set time. Seasonal products usually spike in order quantity at specific times of year (think about all the purchases made for trees, ornaments, and gift wrap in December!) but remain relatively low for the remainder of the time. That’s not to say, however, that you’ll only have to deal with seasonality if you’re selling items such as skis or bathing suits. Demand for all products waxes and wanes with the year. The holiday rush is one such example.
It’s no secret that inflation is at an all-time high. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and the degradation of the global supply chain, prices have shot up at record rates for services in all stages of the fulfillment process. And even before these simultaneous disasters, shipping rates were already steadily increasing. Which is cheaper, FedEx or UPS? Is UPS cheaper than USPS? With some slight variations between one service or another, the three major courier companies are fairly even in price. Depending on the day, a customer off the street might walk into a storefront of any of the three brands and walk out with a pretty decent deal.
Sellers like you, on the other hand, have an additional trick up their sleeve. If you move a certain amount of product, you may be able to qualify for a special discount by signing a shipping contract with one of the big three. This means that in exchange for routing your business through your preferred carrier, you get a few percent knocked off the price. This can seriously add up over time, and as you grow, you have even more leverage to renegotiate. What’s more, we here at P2Pseller allow our merchants to purchase courier services through our own accounts, netting you a larger discount than you might be able to get on your own.
The jury is in- an inefficient choice of 3PL provider can lead to hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional costs tacked onto your bottom line, leading to a situation where your business can struggle to scale. In this post-Amazon world where speedy, cost-effective shipping is not only a nice-to-have but rather the expected norm, long shipping distances not only translate to delays, but to extra costs.
Reducing shipping zones isn’t as difficult a task as you might expect. First of all, if you’re handling everything yourself through the in-house fulfillment model, you can already get more people on the ground by outsourcing your fulfillment operations. Although you maximize control by picking, packing, and shipping everything, boxes can quickly overwhelm your living quarters and have you struggling to keep up. What’s more, unless you live in an extremely central and well-connected locale, you’re far more likely to encounter situations where you have no choice but to ship to the costly and far-flung zones 6-8. The simple act of reaching out to a 3PL can go a long way towards reducing these unnecessary costs.
P2Pseller is dedicated to helping you jump these shipping hurdles as we draw nearer to the holiday season. Our unique and thorough algorithm helps you choose the absolute best fulfillment partner for last-mile deliveries and for fulfillment in general, making sure you choose a company that has the chops to help you avoid those costly zone 6-8 deliveries. We require our warehousing partners to provide the locations of all their facilities so you can make sure to choose businesses with central, well-connected locations. What’s more, our inventory tracking and demand forecasting software will help you make the smartest decisions possible right from the start. Register a free account with us today on our website or app to see exactly what we can do for you and the efficiency and long-term health of your ecommerce business, one optimization at a time.