Matt Mullen declares that it’s no longer the “12 Days of Christmas” for retailers.

By: Matt Mullen, former SVP and Managing Director at ProShip, Inc.
Published on Total Retail Aug. 27, 2018

Although it’s certainly a catchy and classic holiday tune, no longer is it the “12 Days of Christmas” for retailers. Most retail businesses need to begin preparing for the peak holiday shipping season months in advance. While some begin to review their holiday results and assess the performance of their seasonal operations as soon as the last customer order leaves the dock in December, the majority already know where they can improve for the upcoming holiday season: shipping and delivery.

Since consumers begin holiday shopping as early as October, it’s important for retailers to start exploring new technologies to improve their warehouse and fulfillment processes months ahead of time. Not only does this mean identifying innovative solutions to increase efficiencies, but also addressing and combating the current issues and challenges facing the industry ahead of the 2018 peak shipping season. With the current warehouse labor shortage and the demand for fast processing speeds and quick delivery times, retailers need to implement solutions that tackle these issues while saving money and leveraging tools to create the perfect customer experience.

There are various technologies available that can help retailers strategize and ensure a successful 2018 peak shipping season. Below are some shipping strategies retailers can implement ahead of the holidays.

  • Create Amazon-like shipping experiences. Take a page from the retail giant during the holidays by creating unique customer experiences that meet the needs of shoppers. Because Amazon uses shipping as a competitive advantage (i.e., Prime two-day shipping), it generates long-term and sustainable momentum for its business, not just short-term sales. In order to accomplish this, top retailers are using their multi-carrier shipping platforms to create business rule logic that can be customized to meet their customers’ unique shipping demands.
  • Increase shipment processing to combat the influx of customer orders. Identifying the best shipping option can be time-consuming, especially as an influx of customer orders are received. In a time when speed is everything, eliminating labor-intensive tasks and slow, outdated shipping platforms is necessary. Many retailers turn to shipping software that automatically rate shops thousands of carriers and services to identify the best shipping option for every order. The software can also print carrier-certified labels to save time and get more orders on the truck faster.
  • Address labor issues and save money while increasing throughput.With labor issues causing concern amidst the need to increase throughput ahead of the peak season, automated packaging solutions are a retailer’s best friend. These innovative systems reduce packaging labor, create better efficiencies during fulfillment, and create custom-fit parcels in seconds. Not only will warehouse efficiencies grow exponentially, but retailers can experience a 50 percent decrease in parcels’ dimensional volume, ultimately saving thousands with lower DIM weight.
  • Offer convenient on-site delivery to customers. Retailers aren’t the only ones busy in November and December. Consumers are also juggling — and often struggling — to check everything off their shopping lists. In order to offer a convenient delivery service to these busy shoppers, consider boosting your omnichannel capabilities. One way to do this is by installing parcel lockers into brick-and-mortar stores. The option of 24/7 pickup ensures customers receive their packages exactly when they want them.

With new challenges ahead for this year’s holiday season, retailers can address these issues and increase efficiencies. By focusing on long-term loyalty, quicker shipment processing, automation and convenient pickup options, you’ll ensure a successful holiday shipping season. Most importantly, retailers will add even more loyal customers that will continue to shop your stores and website, driving revenue even after the busy holiday season.

See the original article on Total Retail.