Holiday season 2021 has started early this year due to worries about pandemic-related global shipping issues. While having items in stock is always ideal during the holiday shopping season, this year the stakes are higher due to problematic shipping logistics and backlogs. With shoppers still wary about in-person shopping due to COVID-19, and realizing the convenience of ecommerce (due to so much practice during the last year), ecommerce holiday planning has moved to the top of small business owners’ priority list.

If you’re a small business owner working on ecommerce holiday readiness for 2021, this Frictionless Holiday Season Guide will help you get all your ducks in a row.

Holiday Order Fulfillment

This year’s vendor shipping may be problematic due to the shipping bottleneck currently holding up deliveries at major ports around the world. Even if the end product is made inside the country, it may require supplies from overseas to manufacture. Working with your vendors to ensure on-time deliveries to keep your online shop well stocked will take more effort than in previous years.

Ecommerce is projected to account for “18.9% of total holiday sales this year, reaching $206.88 billion, up from 17.5% in 2020, when ecommerce sales hit $185.88 billion.”

Most small businesses have a seamless marketing operation, but what about logistics during and after the sales transaction? All that fancy marketing won’t help if your customer can’t get their order on time.

Statistics show that 15% of online consumers in the U.S. will switch to another seller if an item isn’t in stock. In fact, customers may pull an entire order if one item in a list isn’t in stock. People have gotten used to the convenience of ordering online in the last two years, and they will expect excellent service during holiday season 2021.

Here are some guidelines to add to your holiday season checklist.

1. Set Up a Successful Shipping Operation

Ecommerce holiday readiness 2021 wouldn’t be complete without a successful shipping operation. Work with your vendors, shippers, and your own staff to organize a seamless shipping operation. This includes the spectrum starting with you stocking shipping materials, all the way to working with your vendor who manufacturers or distributes the product. And then,

  • Your vendor ships the completed product to your business
  • You receive the inventory, label, and count it
  • You receive an order for the product
  • You fulfill the shipment to the end customers

Verify Inventory with Barcode Scanning

Even with the best ecommerce holiday planning, you will likely run into a few inventory snags. That’s why it’s imperative to follow best practices for organizing and maintaining your inventory. A key factor in inventory accuracy is to verify your count with barcode scanning.

Why are barcodes important, you might ask? The answer is:

  • Barcodes streamline the verification process, saving both time and money, giving you confidence in your inventory count.
  • Barcodes ensure that you pick the right products and correct quantities for each and every order.
  • Barcodes help reduce errors and increase efficiency, customer satisfaction, and loyalty.

Streamline Package Handling

Organizing your packaging system will make it more efficient, saving time you can use to scale up your daily shipping output.

  • Setting default package dimensions will mean you can order higher quantities of the standard sizes you use, saving you money on shipping materials. It will also save space in your warehouse because you don’t need to stock as many sizes. And save you the time needed to choose which size to use for each item.
  • Ordering enough packaging materials to accommodate high numbers of holiday orders, because everyone else (including your competitors) will be stocking up, too.
  • Organize daily (or more) shipping pickups from your shipping vendors such as FedEx, UPS, and USPS.

Ordoro is “integrated with all major shipping carriers and postage providers, giving you access to a variety of shipping methods, services, and more-than-affordable rates.”

2. Automate Your Workflow

Automating your workflow is another way to keep holiday season 2021 frictionless. Automation keeps orders running efficiently, with fewer errors, and saves you time getting orders ready to ship.

Customers love when shipments during the holiday season are on time, or even early. It eliminates the stress of worrying if holiday shipments will arrive in time to give to family and friends.

Advantages of Automation

Automation improves your warehouse operations in several important ways which relieve stress on your workers, managers, vendors, and customers. Automation:

  • Improves worker efficiency and accuracy. With warehouses increasing in size, picking takes a worker time to walk to pick up the item, find it on the shelf, then walk back to shipping. Automation can vastly reduce the time it takes to pick, giving your workers more time to spend on other tasks. It also increases accuracy.
  • Reduces costs with lowered labor hours and reduces surcharges for shipping non-standard sizes or weights.
  • Integrates seamlessly with your operation, streamlining operations from ordering to shipping to your end customer, and everything in between.
  • Provides real-time analytics to help you manage your operations and easily find areas that are working well, and those that can use some improvement.
  • Optimizes your operation to maximize the supply chain and inventory management processes for holiday season 2021 for increased customer satisfaction and growth opportunities for the future.

Automate Specific Processes

Automation can improve individual processes, starting with reordering from vendors to picking inventory for shipment to packaging shipments for shippers to pick up. You can set shipping presets to speed up the time needed for each shipment. And you can specify automation rules unique to your small business for even more operational efficiency. Automating routines that are tedious, time-consuming, and costly is a win-win all the way around. Automated intelligence (AI) offers endless possibilities.

Ordoro’s automation takes the work out of the workflow and gets your shipping operations moving like clockwork.

3. Consider Using Third Party Logistics

Using Third-Party Logistics (3PL) during the holiday ecommerce surge can alleviate fulfillment issues and give you more capacity to accommodate a big increase in orders. Planning for increased customer orders means that you will have more inventory and shipping materials on hand than during the rest of the year.

Where is all that extra stuff supposed to fit in your limited space?

This is how a 3PL can help. They can use their experience to anticipate operational issues, and offer storage space for your extra inventory. A 3PL makes a huge difference during peak holiday shopping season.

Odoro can help coordinate your logistics, including dropshipping and kitting or bundling.

4. Use Inventory Tracking Software

We’ve discussed a bit about inventory management already, but let’s tackle the thorny issue of knowing where your inventory is at all times. Inventory management is a complex job, but if you have an accurate inventory count, you can let customers know when they will receive their orders.

What you have in stock in one location doesn’t tell the entire story. Inventory tracking software can track your inventory across all of your sales channels and warehouses. With rapidly changing inventory counts due to holiday shopping, an accurate count is crucial for keeping customers happy.

Ordoro’s advanced inventory management solution is affordable for small businesses and can scale up as your business grows. It can keep you informed of where your stock is at all times, even during the rapid upswing of holiday season 2021.

Ecommerce Holiday Planning for 2021

Are you ready for the holiday season? Do you want to learn more about optimal order fulfillment? To learn more, contact us.