‘Tis the season of sales! Q4 is the time for your brand to reach new heights — if you properly manage holiday logistics and overcome the imminent hurdles. So as consumers prepare their lists (and check them twice), it’s our job to supercharge fulfillment solutions. With the right preparation and insight, there is no need to hit the panic button. Here’s what we have in store for Q4 – and how we plan to maximize holiday client sales success.
Forecasting is a critical piece in successful execution. As a service provider, NRI needs to be able to plan and shift resources around this data. This is doubly important when promotions are started earlier in the quarter – pre-Black Friday for example. NRI has dedicated forecasting and planning resources that work with our client partners to capture this detail to build successful space and labor plans. Surprises are bound to happen, so it’s important to minimize them as much as possible by communicating and sharing expectations with clients well in advance.
Having sufficient staff to handle peak order volume is perhaps the biggest challenge during peak season. Q4 brings a high demand to attract new hires as we navigate the post-COVID-19 workforce. To ensure adequate staffing during peak season, we work hand-in-hand with all our clients to build labor plans from their forecasts, and align with all our staffing partners and internal talent teams to ensure readiness. Our focus on a positive work environment, continued education, and being a values-based organization ensures that our team members have career opportunities and a supportive workplace. We have scaled resources through our recruitment and retention efforts and will be continuing to do so throughout Q4.
AUTOMATION & SOLUTIONS
Automation solutions help with labor shortages, but also improve the existing workers’ experience. Robotic solutions like 6 River Systems reduce the travel time for employees and increase throughput and order accuracy. 6 River Systems allows our team to have the flexibility to scale up quickly to meet increased demand.
NRI has invested in additional automation which allows us to scale throughput at our pack stations and transiting goods through the facilities. Brands can help support these initiatives to gain efficiencies in the packing process as well – whether it is eliminating the waste of packing slips, migrating to label packing slips, or adopting non-branded mailers. Beyond automation, our team of industrial engineers is continuously identifying and leveraging our clients’ activity patterns to support product layout and configuration within our facilities. Q4 amplifies existing fulfillment challenges and introduces new ones. It’s imperative NRI finds and embraces all opportunities, no matter how small, to improve order processing time.
Q4 is always a huge opportunity to transition holiday buyers into year-round customers. Marketing campaigns are a great way to generate sales and drive performance. If you have or plan on running a marketing plan during the holiday buying season, remember to communicate this with your 3PL well in advance so they are prepared for all promotions. Consider a longer campaign rollout to increase visibility whilst preparing our team for optimal shipping practices.
THE PERFECT PARTNER(SHIP)
Communication is the most important tool in your Q4 arsenal. As supply chain disruptions continue to cause operational pressure, NRI will be making all preparations possible to meet your holiday needs and demands. In order to do so, your brand will need to provide details about any changes in year-end activity. Proactively reach out to our team well in advance to make the most of our partnership.
Communication with your customers is just as important as your communication with your 3PL. Don’t wait for your customers to ask you about your holiday shipping schedule. Send a simple e-blast or include any holiday shipping details on your website. It’s important to relay longer ship times and create awareness around the state of the supply chain. That way your customers will be prepared for any hiccups in the buying experience.
EFFECTIVELY MANAGING E-COMM RETURNS
A high-quality returns service should always include confirming details of the returned item – this includes confirming the correct item was sent back, reviewing any damage, and ensuring the item has not been worn or used. If necessary for any warranty policies, the brand’s guidance for assessing and providing feedback on the legitimacy of claims – whether a warranty claim versus personal damage – must be followed. Capturing photos for proof of return can be a welcome extra in servicing, especially in the case of high-value products.
Returns must be put back into stock as soon as possible and in first-quality condition so they can be sold again. Having product tied up in limbo while it could be sold is not great. Speed of processing is vital to convert those goods into cash again.
Don’t wait until the start of the holiday season to map out a plan. By following the tips above, you can increase your sales and optimize fulfillment. For additional strategies contact us to help you make the most of the holiday rush!