Planning and Managing Peak Returns Season
Overall, holiday’s sales this year appear to have been robust, with Mastercard reporting total retail sales were up 3.4% year-over-year for the period of November 1st to December 24th. Online sales represented 15% of the total, with total e-commerce sales up 19% over last year.
And now a new year is upon us and the flood of holiday returns has begun, with UPS estimating that 1.9 million return packages entered the UPS network on National Returns Day (January 2nd ). That figure represents a 26% growth in returns over 2018. The increase highlights the continual rise of e-commerce and the resulting surge in returns via delivery services.
So, with holiday sales booked and your attention now firmly set on managing peak returns season, let’s take a moment to identify areas you can audit this year to prepare for next year’s peak returns season.
Any company with a D2C ecommerce model is well aware of the increasing challenges of managing fulfillment, in particular, freight costs during the fourth quarter. Consumer shipping expectations continue to rise driven by the fulfillment benchmark being set by Amazon, Walmart, and other large D2C companies. Consumers are being trained to expect shorter shipping times with low, or no, shipping costs. Further increasing the complexity of managing fourth quarter fulfillment is the increasingly compressed online holiday shopping season driven by the expectation of 1 to 2-day shipping. In this article the focus will be on strategies to manage fourth quarter freight costs during this critical period while meeting your customer’s high expectations. In particular, we will focus on the key drivers impacting your shipping costs which includes, staffing, packaging, dunnage, freight negations, and communication.
It is easy to get spooked this time of year. The weeks leading up to peak season can be scary, but peak will be even scarier if you don’t have the right partner. The holiday season is almost upon us and customers are ready and will test the mettle of your supply chain. It’s time to iron out any holiday shipping and logistics frustrations and avoid unpleasant surprises of what is likely your busiest time as a business. Your vendor and, subsequently, your vendor management practices are your first line of defense against the three great customer reputation killers. Here's why solid, consistently performing vendors are worth their weight in GPS-tracked gold.
Moving your product from point A to point B is rarely a A-to-B process. As customers happily dive into their shipments, little thought goes to the intricate network behind the scenes that made it happen, but those same shipping solutions are likely a major concern for you. One of the most challenging aspects of shipment is the dual selection of mode and carrier. While it's tempting to lean on a basic freight quote to keep things moving along, you'd be doing yourself a disservice. Basic freight quotes are full of holes, and may not be meeting your fulfillment center's needs in a meaningful, consistent way.
There are three things you need to consider that are often missed.
The holiday season is almost upon us and customers are waiting to test the mettle of your supply chain. It’s time to iron out any holiday shipping frustrations now to avoid unpleasant surprises of what is likely your busiest time as a business. Your vendors—and, subsequently, your vendor management practices—are your first line of defense against the three great customer reputation-killers. Here's why solid, consistently performing vendors are worth their weight in GPS-tracked gold.