As we enter the peak of the 2016 year-end shipping season, businesses making parcel shipments would be wise to take stock, literally, and figuratively, to prepare to adeptly handle any problem issues that may arise. Doing your homework now, and getting ready in several other concrete ways ahead of the rush, can help you greet 2017 on the lift of a very successful December.
First, it’s always a good idea to perform a review of your holiday shipping histories from past years, and set in place protocols and management oversights to avoid making the same mistakes repeatedly. This might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many companies continue to lose money and customers, in a slow drip, maybe, but still over a series of bad years that can add up to big trouble in the end.
Now, if you are operating an e-commerce or online retail business, you’ll need to identify ways in which your customers can be incentivized to order early, and avoid delays or missed shipped dates if they wait too long. Be clear in your communications to assure you can best serve your customers within the parameters you have to work with the likes of UPS and FedEx, etc. If you are bound to their schedules, let your customers know the restrictions in plenty of time.
Another way to level out your peak shipping month is to move as much volume as you can to November and the first week of December for packages that are just regular monthly shipments or that are not specifically holiday-related, though they happen to be needing shipped during the busiest time of the year.
It might go without saying, but you need to get as much of the products you’ll need ready in time to fulfill orders effectively and label shipments correctly to minimize lost and damaged goods. Make sure your labeling systems and printers are all current with maintenance and geared up to work without fail when the volume hits. Badly smudged labels or damaged print heads messing up bar codes can be a huge headache in the middle of the busy season.
Do you have enough staff to handle the increased demands of the holiday, and are they all properly trained so no work stoppages or slowdowns hurt your business? Think about these issues so you’re not caught understaffed or need to hire in the midst of the hectic period when customer service should be your main focus and priority, not internal housecleaning.
In sum, keep your eye on just that, providing the best customer service you possibly can, no matter if your holiday business runs smoothly or hits a few snags along the way.
Remember most of all not to over-commit to your customers, such as in taking an order too late or making unrealistic promises. If you are instead realistic about your abilities and your customers’ expectations, you’ll be better able to fulfill them on time, on budget, and on target.
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