Black Friday in October?

Black Friday in October?

Retailers are urging consumers who have specific items in mind to shop early this holiday season, something made evident with numerous Black Friday sales launching the week before Halloween.  

Everything from face wash and home goods to toys and craft supplies are on sale at retailers across the nation and online right now.  Global supply chain disruptions around the world have increased the cost of manufacturing and shipping, forcing prices to sky rocket for consumers. 

The cost of shipping containers alone has soared in the last quarter.  A 40-foot container from Shanghai to New York cost $2,000 before the pandemic began.  However, now it runs close $16,000 and takes months to get overseas, through a port and to retailers and consumers.  This is just one of the many expenses that are being passes along to consumers.

Local stores are facing empty shelves in some areas where products were ordered more than eight months ago and still have not arrived.  Challenges could be based on shipping issues, others are based on raw material shortages.   Both force prices up for the actual product, in addition to an even more inflated price based on the increased demand and supply shortage.  

  • Continued Uncertainty

eCommerce cannot seem to catch up lately, with more people than ever shopping online and several areas of the supply chain are either down or operating below capacity, causing backups down the coast and preventing ships from being unloaded and products getting shipped to retailers and consumers.

 

Nearly half of American companies report they are short on skilled workers, with goods-producing sector hit the hardest.  Suppliers and retailers are not able to keep up with demand, making it harder to survive against so many new eCommerce businesses ready to compete on small profit margins and similar products. 

 

Inflammatory holiday season is a new term for many this holiday season, resulting in fewer goods to unwrap this holiday season. Unfortunately, a speedy recovery from this looks slim as backlogs and elevated shipping costs are likely to persist through at least the middle of 2022.

  • Increased Customer Expectations

Online shopping allows and encourages consumers to refine their search for more particular products, rather than perusing retail stores looking for interesting items for gifts this holiday season.  

 

Many consumers now demand free returns and free shipping, reliable and quick customer service, accurate and responsive websites, and varieties of payment methods, all while receiving a personalized shopping experience. In a good year, where companies are fully staffed, this is both costly and demanding.  This year, those who can rise to meet this premium standard of service will be set apart from others.

 

Customer retention is also incredibly challenging.  Though it is typically valued more so over new prospects, with so much competition in the market it is extremely difficult to guarantee a customer becomes a repeat customer. Suppliers are at the mercy of retailers to provide loyalty perks, discounts like black Friday sales as we approach this holiday, and doorbusters that will help promote products in store or online.

  • Increased Cybercrime

With the unprecedented expansion of so many online stores, shoppers are spending more time and more money than ever online, and with this increase comes theft.  

 

Trends show that there’s a huge increase in hacks and breached data from sources that are common – such as mobile phones, loT devices like smart watches and remote working conditions that may not have top of the line security like an office would.

 

Research also suggests that smaller companies may not have the resources needed to protect data properly, making them vulnerable to data loss.  Whether it’s paying vendors or accepting payments directly from customers or retailers, having sound security practices in place is critical for ongoing success.

 

Simplify with OPAL’s 4-in-1 Software Solution
EDI | Order Management | Warehouse Management | Shipping

OPAL is the innovative solution to simplify your small to mid-sized to enterprise business fulfillment needs in today’s rapidly transforming retail world.  

As your eCommerce business looks to optimize processes for this coming holiday season and a new year ahead that will not slow down, OPAL is here to assist you so that you can grow your business and meet the demands of consumers and retailers.

To learn more about how your eCommerce business can thrive in the holiday season ahead with OPAL, click here!

Click here to book your customized demo today.  We are here to support you through this time of change and are here to help you innovate and thrive!

Fulfillment Strategies for this Holiday Season

Fulfillment Strategies for this Holiday Season

In the recent months, retailers and suppliers have done everything in their control to help stabilize the global supply chain as we approach this holiday season.  With many countries still shut down due to Covid restrictions and parts shortages for a wide range of products, it’s no wonder there are delays throughout the entire supply chain process worldwide.  

Biden announced the White House’s plan to help ease supply chain bottlenecks in the US by funding key West Coast ports to stay open 24/7, as well as ramping up nighttime operations for freight railroads in warehouse and shipping hubs. 

FedEx and UPS were first to announce expanded-hours operation plans to assist with delivering the backlog of packages that sit in the long line of cargo ships down the west coast. As this plan moves closer to execution, many other larger retailers have since joined together to help solve this crisis. 

The holidays are the most lucrative time of year for businesses.  As we enter this crunch season over the next ten weeks, and hopefully more products begin hitting store shelves, supplier warehouses, and online inventories, here are a few key fulfillment strategies to focus on to thrive this holiday season.

Effective Warehouse Management
It is key to quickly and efficiently receive the goods, process them and send them back out to the correct address on time.  eCommerce businesses that succeed typically implement a software solution that helps automate and streamline daily operations.  It simplifies and directs the team to know what to pick, pack and ship.  

Warehouse layout is also a critical component to efficiency.  After the summer and fall rushes, it is important to see what is working and what needs to be adjusted so that the holiday season can run smoothly.

Trained Employees
The holiday season is like the eCommerce championship games in sports and not the time to train new employees for their first game.  Everywhere we look there’s help wanted signs and those fortunate enough to snag talented employees need to focus on keeping everyone motivated and engaged so that they are content and not looking for other opportunities.

It is critical to walk new employees through the entire fulfillment process — from inventory to order management to the picking and packing process. Partnering new employees with seasoned employees will help keep the flow and speed needed each day, reduce common errors that are both expensive and timely, and provide on the job training to new employees.

Efficient Shipping Strategy
Consumers have high expectations and many believe the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services.  Many online retailers promote two-day shipping and provide online guarantees for shipping before December 24th.  No matter what the size of your ecommerce business, it can be daunting with all of the shipping delays across the country. Having a plan in place and communicating with your retailers will be critical during this time.

 

Any normal year would have retailers and ecommerce businesses ready to officially launch the holiday season at Black Friday, but with shortages and shipping delays, consumers started shopping much earlier than expected this year.  Reducing costly errors through efficient warehouse management, training employees and efficient shipping strategies will help as we enter this holiday shopping season.     

Simplify with OPAL’s 4-in-1 Software Solution
EDI | Order Management | Warehouse Management | Shipping

OPAL is the innovative solution to simplify your small to mid-sized to enterprise business fulfillment needs in today’s rapidly transforming retail world.  

As your eCommerce business looks to optimize fulfillment processes, OPAL is here to assist you in each of the strategies above with a significant Return on Investment outcome.

To learn more about how to make your eCommerce business scalable with OPAL, click here!

Click here to book your customized demo today.  We are here to support you through this time of change and are here to help you innovate and thrive!