Proper holiday fulfillment means having an order fulfillment process that is fast, consistent, and reliable. But you don’t have to tackle the holidays alone.
To meet customer demand and a higher volume of orders during the busiest retail season of the year, a third-party logistics (3PL) like ShipBob can help. ShipBob is a best-in-class 3PL that has partnered with online brands in a wide range of industries to prepare for the busiest season of the year.
“Even our previous 3PL was unable to scale at the level we needed years ago, which became apparent my first holiday with them. This past holiday season would have been completely unmanageable for both our old 3PL and us. ShipBob does it seamlessly.”
Michael Peters, VP of E-Commerce Operations at TB12
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Holiday fulfillment: Why it’s important for ecommerce stores
In 2020, holiday shopping made up 19.7% of overall retail sales —, a jump from 13.4% last year. The holidays have always been a busy season for retail, but as the rise of ecommerce continues to grow, so will the chaos of online holiday shopping.
Since the holidays are always a busy time for online brands, your business can’t afford to be unprepared.
The best way to meet customer expectations during the holidays is to ensure you have a solid fulfillment strategy in place. Luckily, partnering with a third-party logistics (3PL) company like ShipBob can help reduce the stress and help you prepare for the holiday season.
How ShipBob successfully fulfills holiday orders
Black Friday through Christmas Eve is the time of year when the majority of ecommerce brands experience the biggest surge in orders. For many founders and small businesses, it’s impossible to fulfill these orders on time and keep customers happy. If you’re spending all your time packing and shipping orders yourself, it’s likely not your ideal way to spend the holidays or your free time.
ShipBob is a 3PL with multiple fulfillment center locations across the globe. Our entire network is powered by the same best-in-class technology that drives consistency, reliability, and high order accuracy across our entire network. We also partner with leading ecommerce solutions, from inventory planning to returns management, so you can easily plug ShipBob into your existing tech stack.
1. Connects to your online store
ShipBob easily integrates with your online store to streamline the fulfillment process. Our software includes integrations built with all the leading ecommerce platforms and marketplaces. Syncing your store with ShipBob will enable you to automatically send orders to ShipBob’s fulfillment center and have them fulfilled in a timely manner.
“I was cutting it very close to securing a last-minute fulfillment provider before the holidays. I can’t express how happy I have been to work with ShipBob. I know it would not have been possible to manage without them, especially during the holidays.”
Steve Staffan, founder and CEO of Brummell
2. Uses inventory demand forecasting
ShipBob can help with demand forecasting. With ShipBob, you can view your stores historical data and predicts which SKUs will be more popular during the holiday season and advises retailers which stock they should order more of. ShipBob aggregates transit times, cart values, shipping methods, and ecommerce shipping destinations to help you optimize your costs and test different shipping price strategies.
We also help you understand how much inventory to order and keep on hand — without running out of stock or over-spending on manufacturing or warehousing.
Our order volume has seen ebbs and flows, and ShipBob has fulfilled over 10,000 shipments per month for us, with Black Friday/Cyber Monday and our summer season being our most in demand times of the year.”
Gerard Ecker, Founder & CEO of Ocean & Co.
3. Optimizes the order accuracy rate
ShipBob is always implementing new technology and automation to improve order accuracy, such as automated sorting and box selection algorithms that use dimensions and your packaging preferences to tell us which package size to use for any order combination to provide consistent, predictable fulfillment pricing and a good customer experience.
ShipBob customers can upload photos of their products for the picking and packing teams to see and validate upon fulfillment to reduce the possibility of an order being picked or shipped the wrong way. You can even edit an order in ShipBob until it is picked in the event that a customer wants to change something after they place their order.
“We can see our orders come in and get fulfilled in real-time without any hiccups for the most part, which is great. Our fulfillment is on autopilot. ShipBob saves us so much effort, and the opportunity cost savings has been substantial.”
Yannick Crespo, Co-Founder & President of Pot d’Huile
4. Custom packaging options
If you’re looking for custom packaging options, ShipBob can cater to creating a unique unboxing experience for your customers. ShipBob offers the option to use standard packaging at no extra cost. But if you decide to use your own custom branded packaging, ShipBob partners with leading packaging solutions, including eco-friendly options. You can view our packaging partners here.
“ShipBob offers the option to customize packaging and tell a story through our products when shipping to our customers, giving us more control over our business and brand.”
Matt Dryfhout, Founder & CEO of BAKblade
5. Offers fast shipping options
ShipBob has a robust fulfillment center network and is able to ship orders faster with inventory placed closer to your customers. Our fulfillment technology is designed to automatically process and verify customer orders placed online and then generates picking lists with optimal picking routes to speed up processing in the fulfillment center. We partner with major shipping carriers to provide discounted shipping rates, and packages are picked up at our fulfillment centers daily.
“Our experience with ShipBob has been outstanding thus far. This past Q4 was really good, with December being our best month yet, even though it was really competitive. ShipBob was solid during the holidays, and at one point they even paid for expedited shipping for everyone, keeping their customers happy.”
Josh Hollings, Founder & CEO of Drop FX
6. Implements an inventory management system
The native technology that ShipBob implements across their fulfillment centers allows retailers to have a transparent view of their inventory at all stages of the supply chain. Once your store is connected to ShipBob’s dashboard, you get a number of valuable inventory management tools at your disposal. View inventory levels in real-time, set reorder points, keep a safety stock, and allocate inventory strategically so you always have product in the right place at the right time.
“Over Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we will release many new products and we anticipate selling two months of unit volume in that weekend alone. I feel confident that ShipBob will make Black Friday and Cyber Monday a success for us, helping us live up to our customers’ expectations and deliver on time.”
Carl Protsch, Co-Founder of FLEO
7. Handles the return management process
More orders means a higher amount of possible returns. ShipBob has worked hard on optimizing the return management process and with it managing customer expectations. Our retail fulfillment solution can handle returns for you or lets you manage returns on your own and even easily integrates with leading ecommerce returns platforms such as Happy Returns and Returnly to better streamline the returns process.
The ability to work with one of the co-founders of ShipBob to launch a new, custom returns process was awesome. Returns were taking a lot of time and resources to process on our end, but ShipBob was super helpful and critical in creating a solution for us.”
Nikolai Paloni, Co-Founder of Ombraz Sunglasses
8. Round the clock customer support
ShipBob is a partner and an extension of your brand. We understand what a stressful time the holiday season is and offers customer support to successfully get you through this busy period. With ShipBob, you always speak to real people who you can get in touch with, and the same reps who know your account and products.
“We’ve had three holiday cycles with ShipBob, and the most recent Q4 was our smoothest yet. There will always be bumps in the road with logistics, but it’s how your 3PL responds that counts. Our Account Manager is really on top of it. She’s very responsive and a big part of our success with ShipBob.”
Manuel de la Cruz, CEO at Boie
Setting up your store with ShipBob this holiday season
Get your online store ready this holiday season and partner up with ShipBob. If you need to secure a 3PL (whether it’s because you’re growing fast, aren’t happy with your current provider, or need help for a busy holiday season), ShipBob makes it easy to get started with our fulfillment solution right away.
“Nine days after we got started with ShipBob’s implementation team, we were shipping orders.”
Tim Fink, Co-Founder of EnduroSport
Once you connect your store to our technology, you can follow the steps on how to send inventory ShipBob. Once we receive your inventory, we store the inventory and have items ready to be picked, packed, and shipped. As soon as an order is placed on your online store, we automatically receive the order and generate a picking list to quickly pick and pack the items ordered.
Once ready to ship, our technology will choose the most affordable route for the order, and our shipping partners pick up orders daily from our fulfillment center locations, which speeds up the last-mile delivery. From there, you can view order status and inventory levels all in real time from the dashboard.
5 holiday fulfillment tips to prepare for the holiday season
Looking for tips on how to prepare for the holiday season? You’ve come to the right place! ShipBob has partnered with thousands of merchants to prepare for the holidays. Here are a few tips on how to get your online store ready for the busiest season of the year, including how to prepare holiday inventory.
1. Communicate with your suppliers
As you can expect an influx of orders during the holiday season, you need to contact your suppliers and let them know that you will need to place a higher order volume to avoid any potential stock outs. Share information with your suppliers on predicted order volume to make sure you order enough to avoid potential stockouts. Like you, they also need time to successfully deliver orders.
2. Assess your SKU level history
Looking back at your SKU history, you can predict the items which are more in demand and will need to be stocked accordingly. Using historical inventory data like SKU performance, you will likely have an idea of what will be your top sellers, which will help you make better estimates before ordering more inventory.
3. Prepare holiday custom packaging
The holidays are an exciting, joyous time of the year. Your packaging should be, too. If your ecommerce store uses any holiday themed packaging, you’ll want to make sure you have ordered and accounted for any special packaging. Look for something that will delight your customers when they receive their package, and if your packaging is recyclable, even better.
4. Evaluate your returns management process
TBefore the holiday rush heats up, make sure to have a straightforward returns process that is clearly communicated across your website. If you partner with a 3PL, work with them to figure out an efficient returns management process, which includes providing your customers with a shipping label and tracking information once their return is shipped.
Even though they’re returning an item, a great returns experience can encourage them to purchase from you again — and potentially turn a seasonal customer into a year-round one.
5. Partner with a 3PL
The holiday season is already busy enough, so leave the order fulfillment process up to a 3PL like ShipBob to get you through this high stress period. Whether this is your first holiday season at a quickly-growing business, or you need to switch 3PLs before the holiday rush, the sooner you get in touch with a new 3PL, the better. There is a definite sense of urgency when it comes to choosing a solid fulfillment partner in time for the holidays.
“ShipBob is not the cheapest, but you get what you pay for. I’m really happy with my decision. It’s a huge load off myself and my family not to have to manage logistics in my house — especially during Christmas.”
Andrea Hamilton, founder of The Finer Things 1920
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Holiday fulfillment FAQs
Here are some of the common questions we’ve been asked by our customers about holiday fulfillment:
How can you optimize your holiday fulfillment process?
To optimize your holiday fulfillment process, you can implement technology that can help you automize some of the process. That way, you can keep up with a high volume of orders without compromising accuracy. Other inventory management tools can help with inventory forecasting and product allocation to ensure you have the right amount of inventory in stock to meet demand. It takes a lot of time, money, and energy to keep up with holiday fulfillment, so many brands will outsource fulfillment to a 3PL to help support a busy holiday season.
How can you get your online store ready for the holiday season?
There are several things you will need to do to prepare your online store for the holiday season, but one of the most important things is to make sure your checkout process provides a great experience for holiday shoppers. If your checkout is clunky or confusing, shoppers will abandon their carts and look elsewhere. You cana also improve conversions and decrease cart abandonment by removing unnecessary form fields, optimizing for a good mobile experience, and offering fast and affordable shipping options (which a 3PL can help with).
How can a 3PL help with the high volume of holiday season returns?
information once their return is shipped. You can have returned goods sent back to your 3PL’s warehouse(s) or directly back to you, and view all tracking information for returns, from the moment a return label is generated to when the fulfillment center receives it and the item gets restocked.
How does custom holiday packaging work?
Custom holiday packaging works by choosing holiday-themed packaging and ordering holiday inserts prior to the holiday season. If you work with a 3PL, you can use holiday-themed packaging at an additional cost, rather than standard packaging during the holiday season.