The festive season gives everyone a reason to cheer. Customers look forward to incredible deals. Marketplaces also gear up to multiply their GMV many times over through sales promotions. As a seller, you too can expect to maybe double or triple your sales during these bursts. But your celebrations can get cut short if you can't deliver what you promised, on time.
Any delays, non-availability or poor servicing of orders on such crucial occasions will impact your bottomline and have a lasting negative effect on your reputation as an online seller.
Here are some ways in which you can make sure your orders are sent packing.
Plan your products list well ahead of time. Choose festive-appropriate product items (fast-moving, specialty and season-specific types) and make sure you have enough added inventory to meet demand surges. If you have been selling long enough, you would have some data from the previous year’s sales or an equivalent sales event held previously. Look that previous demand surge in terms of percentage growth from usual sales at that time and apply a similar spike expectation this time round.
Since you may not be able or want to buy all the stock requirement up front, build up a list of 3 or 4 reliable suppliers for your products who may be able to provide you the stock just-in-time when you receive the orders for items which you may go out of stock (specially the fast-moving ones). This will ensure that you will not lose sales when the time comes. Less profit is better than no-sales and no profit (of course that does not mean a loss).
You may want to consider hiring temporary extra part-time packing as well as call support staff for these rush periods. If you are a one-man or one-woman show, ask your family, friends or relatives to pitch in for you for these times. Keep enough packing supplies handy too!
Make sure your team works day and night in double shifts. It will be useful to tie up with some JIT vendors and logistic companies who offer timely and 24/7 service. This is also a good time to use fulfillment services offered by marketplaces like Amazon FBA. If you are proactive and have good relations with the marketplace you can make special requests such as extending warehouse capabilities, priority receiving and dispatch etc.
Use an automated Order & Inventory Management System to keep track of your orders and deliveries on every platform in one place. If you're already using one, make sure to brief the software team about upcoming activity so that they can prep their systems to carry the load and ensure a seamless process even during peak times.
Minimise buyer friction. Under unavoidable circumstances in which your shipments are delayed or products returned, make it up to the customer by doing something a little extra. Throw in a freebie or a personal apology note or even a deep discount coupon. Anything to turn that frown upside down :). One positive feedback from a customer goes a long way in pushing closer to the BuyBox every time and keeps you ranking higher in search results.
Just some simple tips to help you have a truly prosperous year to come. Happy Selling!
Piyush is the Editor-in-Cheif of IndianOnlineSeller.com. Piyush has many years of experience in Ecommerce, has had experience with marketplaces in Europe, USA and India since 2007, both selling domestically and dealing with imports and exports.