How Your Order Fulfillment Partner Can Enhance Your Business and Your Brand
A good ecommerce order fulfillment partner is more critical than ever to work hand-in-hand with your business to make flash sale fulfillment and special promotions successful. We’re all familiar with sales offering a discounted price for a designated period of time, but ecommerce has seen spectacular growth using more structured promotions designed to sell a wider variety of products that enhance the visibility of brands. It often seems that consumers find these sudden, rapid-fire sales and for-a-limited-time promotions irresistible!
Some of the most common types of Ecommerce special order promotions are:
- Buy One, Get One Free (BOGO). Perhaps the most self-explanatory, this type of promotion takes advantage of the natural desire for a bargain or to stock up on products that they already use. A common variation is a ”buy one, get the 2nd at half price” offer.
- Variety packs or bundles. Variety packs often include a range of different flavors or colors of the same item, or even a group of different— yet related— products. For example, a specialty foods company might offer a bundle of six different flavors of premium chocolate bars or a clothing company might bundle a package of different styles of socks.
- Free shipping for orders over a certain dollar amount, especially for online sales, encourages customers to buy more items and save on shipping costs.
Many companies may not realize the impact these types of special promotions can have on their overall order profile and order fulfillment operation. For example, the average number of items (or SKU’s) per order often goes up during a special promotion period — doubling or quadrupling. New SKUs may even be required for a new version of a variety pack being promoted. These changes have a significant impact on the labor, resources and technology systems present in your fulfillment center, varying significantly from normal, daily order volumes and profiles.
At TAGG, we recommend taking time up front to prepare for the order fulfillment and logistics associated with flash sales and special promotions to make the order process run smoothly. Ultimately, the end goal is to create a positive brand impression for consumers from the time they purchase a product, all the way through to receiving it. That’s why at TAGG, we work closely with our customers, planning and preparing in advance of special promotions and flash sales. Here are some tips to help you run promotions successfully:
Communicate your plans ahead of time to your fulfillment partner. If you have a planned promotional calendar, make sure you give it to your 3PL fulfillment partner and review it with them thoroughly to ensure that the content and timing of each promotion is clear. Of course, even the best-laid plans can change. If you decide to add or alter any promotions on an ad hoc basis, let your 3PL partner know as soon as possible. If your order fulfillment partner knows what is coming, they can take steps to streamline fulfillment by getting the product pre-kitted or pre-boxed ahead of time. Not only can that mean your customers get their orders faster, without unnecessary delays, but it can keep your SLAs and KPIs in your fulfillment center on track.
Set customer expectations. If you do expect products to take additional time to be delivered, make sure you’ve set expectations. Post a notice on your website, for example, that indicates there is high demand for certain products most affected by the promotion, and therefore, shipping may take longer. If customers know when to expect their goods to arrive, it is far less likely to negatively impact their satisfaction on how long it takes to receive what they ordered.
Consider using a hub-and-spoke fulfillment strategy. This is one place where advance planning can have a real impact. If you expect promotional demand to be concentrated in key geographies, it may make sense to move inventory from your main ‘hub’ location in your primary warehouse, to regional ‘spoke’ locations closer to the area where demand is expected to be highest. A hub-and-spoke model ultimately allows you to dramatically reduce transportation time-in-transit, by reducing the distance from your fulfillment center to consumers.
At TAGG Logistics, we take an active role in helping our clients get the most out of every promotion. For last year’s peak holiday season, TAGG suggested that clients run promotions earlier than normal, helping to offset the industry-wide capacity shortages and longer lead times. We suggested that another of our clients offer free shipping for purchases over $80 early in peak season, boosting average items per order from 1.5 to 2.2. TAGG worked closely with our client to plan in advance for the additional staff and hours needed for picking, packaging and fulfillment — eliminating possible delays.
Your Order Fulfillment Partner Can Help You Manage the Unexpected
What happens when the unexpected occurs? We’ve seen it happen time and time again, especially in the era of social media influencers. All it takes is a celebrity or influencer to use your product in a Tik Tok video that goes viral and demand for that product spikes dramatically — and unexpectedly. These situations are impossible to predict, but TAGG offers these suggestions for taking advantage of the opportunity and managing it successfully. While you won’t be able to handle a dramatic increase in volume in a single day, make sure you have a 3PL order fulfillment partner that can flex up daily output to get the order spike covered in a reasonable time frame, usually a few days. We also recommend that when confirming the order via email to the buyer, that the communication also include details on when to expect the order to arrive. For example, “Thank you for your order. Due to high demand for this product, you can expect to receive it within five business days.” Again, as we mentioned above, setting expectations is key, especially in today’s new normal where consumers have come to expect extremely fast turnaround times.
TAGG has the experience and enthusiasm to help our clients make the most of every promotion. Powering business growth is perhaps the most important thing TAGG can do as your order fulfillment partner. Let us take Your Business EverywhereSM.Contact TAGG Logistics Today