With peak season approaching fast, it’s time to start thinking about preparing for the increased activity it brings. For many merchants, the period from Black Friday through the end of the year accounts for up to 40% of their annual sales. If you’re not ready, this drastic spike in activity can leave you without the inventory or ability to fulfill your orders. Here are 8 peak season tips to make sure you’re ready when the holiday rush begins.

simple global order fulfillment
1. Look for trends in customer complaints, like late deliveries or wrong products.

In customer service, it’s important to keep accurate records of the inquiries you receive. That way, you’ll be able to examine the data and take note of trends that might affect your peak season workload. Make an effort to correct these problems before peak season hits. For example, you might notice that customers are complaining about late deliveries. This might indicate a problem in your fulfillment process. Examine your process and make corrections so that your warehouse runs smoothly during peak.


2. Bundle products generally purchased together into a “kit.”

If you see that customers commonly purchase products together (e.g., a pair of gloves and a hat) package them together as a “kit” under one SKU. Kits are convenient and make great promotional gift sets. What’s more, it takes less time to pick and pack the products if they’re already boxed together. This translates to more orders shipped per day, which can help you keep up with holiday volume.

fulfillment center at peak season
3. Make your most popular items easily accessible in the warehouse.

If you fulfill from your own warehouse, make sure it’s properly organized to expedite picking and packing. This means putting your most commonly ordered products close together in easy-to-reach locations. That way the picker can grab the products more quickly without having to reach, bend, or move from one end of the warehouse to the other for every pick. If you outsource fulfillment, consult with your provider to make sure you’re sending them the optimal amount of inventory to cover peak-season spikes.


4. Be aware of any international guidelines that may affect your shipments.

If your products contain lithium batteries, or you deal in beauty items like perfume or nail polish, make sure you comply with all dangerous goods regulations. You’ll need special packaging and labeling for hazardous materials. Consult the carriers you work with or your fulfillment provider to see how you can safely and efficiently ship these products to your holiday customers.


5. Keep your fulfillment team or third-party provider apprised of special promotions.

The holiday season is the perfect time to offer discounts and promotions. These deals are a great way to generate business and entice first-time buyers. Making your fulfillment center* aware of upcoming sales in advance gives them time to prepare, whether by allocating more staff to picking and packing, extending operating hours or adding an additional shift, or moving sale items to convenient picking locations.

order fulfillment - peak season
6. Stock up on packing materials and supplies.

Ensuring you have enough inventory to get you through the holidays is a no-brainer, but it can be easy to overlook the need for extra packing supplies. You’ll need plenty of boxes, bubble-wrap, packing tape, and labels to get all those orders packed and shipped. If you outsource, make sure your fulfillment partner has enough of any specialty packaging or inserts specific to your brand. This includes special branded packaging, advertising, thank you cards, samples, or anything else you want to include to make your brand stand out.


7. Offer low-cost or free shipping.

The cost of shipping has always been a pain point for online consumers. Usually, buyers shop around for the best price, and when they find it, that’s the price they expect. Seeing additional charges like taxes and shipping fees is, at best, an annoyance, and at worst, a deal-breaker. Maximize your peak-season sales bump by offering low-cost shipping. Often, working with a fulfillment provider** can lower your shipping costs, since their bulk-shipping allows them to negotiate lower-than-retail rates with carriers such as FedEx and DHL. Low cost or free shipping will entice customers and reduce cart-abandonment rate.

packaging - peak season
8. Make returns simple.

These days, 80% of online shoppers look for hassle-free returns, and 68% expect free return shipping. This is important to be aware of during the holiday season, when gift giving is at its peak. Last year, 28% of holiday gifts were returned. Be ready for a spike in post-peak returns, and make sure your return process is as painless as can be. Although you might feel like you’re losing money in the short-term, making returns simple for holiday shoppers will inspire loyalty and set up future sales possibilities.

The best way to deal with holiday madness is to partner with a logistics provider like Simple Global. Established providers are proficient in scaling to meet peak season sales spikes. They can help you keep customers satisfied by making sure their orders arrive intact and on time. But whether you choose to work with a logistics company or do it yourself, following these guidelines can help keep things moving smoothly throughout the busiest days of the year.


*If you’re already a Simple Global customer, be sure to provide your projections in advance to support@simpleglobal.com

**Want to update your Simple Global shipping options before peak? Let us know right away! Shipping options need to be mapped and tested, so last-minute changes aren’t always possible.