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Holiday Shipping Guide: 10 Ways to Prep for Black Friday and Cyber Monday with Parcel Shipping Software

Hear from the shipping experts on how you can use MCSS to prep for Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are two of the most critical dates on the e-commerce calendar. While they are traditionally associated with consumers hunting for the best deals, they are also important to retailers, manufacturers, and Third-Party Logistics (3PL) providers. For these businesses, these mega-shopping events represent a significant opportunity to boost sales, move inventory, and strengthen customer relationships (essentially, moving them “into the black” or turning a profit). However, to make the most of this opportunity, you can’t just simply cross your fingers and hope for success, you need to prepare, prepare, prepare! It’s here that multi-carrier shipping software makes a key difference, ensuring seamless and streamlined operations for your business and cultivating a positive experience that leaves your customers wanting more.

Read on as we explore ten ways to leverage parcel shipping software for a successful Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Each of these strategies is designed to ensure that your logistics operations run smoothly and efficiently, giving you a competitive edge during the holiday season.

1. Start Early

If you are starting your prep in October, you are late. The first step toward Black Friday and Cyber Monday success is early planning. For many enterprise-level shippers, this is where an advanced and fully integrated Enterprise Software Stack (ESS) truly shines, as it fosters robust connections within your operations. It enables stress testing and automates workflows, ensuring a thorough mapping of your entire shipping process, from order to delivery. [Want to learn more about supply chain compression testing?]

This thorough preparation guarantees that your customers enjoy a seamless and positive experience. Furthermore, when your ESS includes a modern and seamlessly integrated multi-carrier shipping software (MCSS), early preparation becomes a strategic advantage, enhancing efficiency and customer satisfaction. The graphic to the right shows the typical peak season preparation calendar. To learn more about what this means and how it can help you stay organized, check out the Decoding the Data eBook.

2. Scale Seamlessly

Scalability isn't a new concept for experienced shippers – it’s a fundamental element of successful supply chain management. As Black Friday and Cyber Monday approach, these seasoned professionals understand the dramatic surge in order volumes that looms. This is where MCSS takes the stage. While MCSS isn’t limited to being used by a certain category of shippers, it’s among the experienced shippers that its advanced capabilities and functionalities truly shine.

MCSS, armed with advanced features like Advanced Rate Shopping and Automated Business Rules, isn't just about handling high volumes. It's about efficiently managing supply chain logistics, ensuring continuous yet accurate operation without overwhelming your resources. Scaling up is the epitome of expertise, a skill sharpened through years of navigating the holiday rush.

3. Rationalize Carriers

While diversifying your carrier options has its pros, the modern shipping landscape calls for a more strategic approach – carrier rationalization. With MCSS, businesses can make the shift from just having a broad mix of carriers to thoughtfully partnering with the ones that best match their specific shipping needs.

Carrier rationalization means optimizing a core set of carriers, not just for their capacity but for how well they fit with your target markets, service requirements, and cost-efficiency goals. It involves evaluating how carriers perform, negotiating for favorable rates, and creating tailored partnerships to ensure reliable, efficient, and cost-effective deliveries. This smart approach minimizes disruptions and keeps your shipping process running at its best. [Discover how to compare carrier risk factors.]

4. Track in Real-Time

Real-time shipment tracking is more than just a customer convenience – it’s a trust-building cornerstone. MCSS provides advanced tracking capabilities, but it's essential to note that tracking availability depends on the carrier's services. When carriers offer real-time tracking, your customers can take advantage of the transparency and peace of mind that come with knowing their shipment’s location at any moment.

And this visibility isn't just a perk, it's an expectation in today's shipping landscape. Customers value the ability to track their shipments in real-time, as it enhances their overall customers experience (CX) and builds trust. To meet this expectation, it's essential to have a MCSS with a broad carrier library. This ensures that your chosen mix of carriers includes those that offer these expanded tracking features. Having the right mix of carriers can set you apart from the competition and deliver on the real-time tracking experience your customers demand.

5. Optimize Inventory

Efficient coordination between inventory and shipping is not only crucial but essential, and even more so during the holiday season when customer expectations are at their peak. When you employ an advanced MCSS that is seamlessly integrated with your ESS, you can align inventory management with your evolving shipping needs.

Today's future-forward landscape reminds us that omnichannel fulfillment strategies are standard among retailers and manufacturers, and making the most of every available inventory source is paramount. Whether you have a multitude of store locations, rely on multiple 3PLs, or collaborate with various third-party vendors, MCSS empowers you to harness every potential fulfillment origin. By utilizing the seamless connections between your Order Management System (OMS) and MCSS, your MCSS can execute automated decision-making to bring your products closer to the customer, shortening the time in transit and meeting their demands swiftly. It's the key to delivering a seamless omnichannel experience that sets you apart in the holiday rush. [Explore the potential of an omnichannel strategy with the right shipping software solutions.]

6. Analyze Insights

During the Black Friday and Cyber Monday rush, data becomes a strong asset for optimizing your operations (and is essential for starting item #1 on this list). While most MCSS focus on their core shipment execution capabilities and don’t include advanced analytics tools, many offer access to transportation business intelligence tools through software add-on features. Business intelligence solutions empower shippers to track and analyze key metrics vital to their shipping operations, especially during the high-demand holiday season. The ability to analyze data in real-time enables you to identify areas for improvement, optimize processes, and enhance the customer experience.

Having the option to access powerful analytics tools allow you to tailor your analytics needs to your specific requirements, ensuring you have the right tools at your disposal for data-driven decision-making, even during the busiest shopping days of the year. [Want to learn more about one of the market-leading transportation business intelligence products?]

7. Streamline Returns

Efficient returns management is the marker of a successful enterprise-level shipper, particularly during the holiday season when return rates tend to surge. To optimize your returns management program, it's essential to recognize the significance of inbound visibility. Knowing what is being shipped back to you, in what quantity, and when it will arrive at your facility is key. Without access to important shipping data and information, your reverse logistics process can become a blind spot in your supply chain.

Visibility throughout the return package journey from strong ESS connections allow you to track granular information across your supply chain. MCSS not only streamlines the returns process, ensuring a hassle-free experience for both you and your customers, but also contributes to a positive post-purchase experience, empowering you to regain control of inventory, reducing the cost and complexity of returns management, which ultimately benefits your bottom line. This not only keeps operational costs to a minimum but also fosters brand loyalty. Advanced multi-carrier shipping software with robust features and omnichannel capabilities is crucial to elevating the CX, increasing sales, and turning customers into advocates. [How can your dog help with your reverse logistics? Check out this blog to learn more about Max!]

8. Ensure Compliance

Navigating complex shipping regulations, especially with international shipments or dangerous goods or hazmat, can pose a challenge. MCSS solutions are designed to ensure compliance with ease, addressing a broad spectrum of shipping regulations. Advanced solutions often include system checks that can either automate or ensure compliance remains up to date and complies with the relevant regulations.

An agile update process, especially those that follow Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD), ensures that your system remains consistently updated and adaptable to quell any compliance concerns. This not only guarantees compliance but also ensures smooth and uninterrupted shipping operations, minimizing the risk of customs delays, fines, and other issues, even when dealing with complex compliance requirements. Think of this year’s GRIs, surcharges, and carrier released updates – a MCSS that manages all of this information to help you stay cost-efficient is the gold standard.

9. Ensure Customer Support

Exceptional customer support is the foundation of lasting customer relationships. As the hub that connects so much of the ESS, MCSS offers tools to empower your customer support teams with automated decision-making and tools for addressing inquiries, resolving issues, and providing real-time shipment information. MCSS not only enhances the customer experience but also optimizes support operations by automating routine tasks.

With MCSS, your support team can efficiently assist customers with tracking packages, resolving delivery concerns, and handling return requests. This automation frees up your support staff's valuable time, allowing them to focus on critical peak-related activities, such as managing increased customer inquiries and ensuring a seamless experience during the busiest shopping days of the year. It's a vital component of your strategy to excel during the holiday season to build strong customer loyalty. [Dive deep into customer support with this Expert Article!]

10. Be Ready for the Unpredictable

As mentioned previously, preparation is the only way to find success during the unpredictable holiday season, especially during the high-stakes Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales events. With this unpredictability, worst case scenarios can (and often do) happen, causing significant complications that can disrupt your operations and affect the CX. These complications may include labor roadblocks, critical data loss, regulatory ramifications, and even software downtime, all of which could result in significant costs and customer dissatisfaction.

Shippers who employ an advanced MCSS have a lifeline for contingency planning and disaster recovery, supported by robust features designed to equip your business for the unexpected, ensuring that Black Friday and Cyber Monday go off without a hitch. Some of these comprehensive features include business rules for real-time monitoring and alert systems. These provide essential insights to stay ahead of potential disruptions, from technical issues to the possibility of natural disasters during the holiday rush. These tools minimize downtime and maintain customer satisfaction, showcasing your commitment to a reliable and resilient shipping operation that meets the demands of the busiest shopping days of the year. [How is downtime a disaster waiting to happen?]

ProShip's Leading Multi-Carrier Shipping Software

With all of this in mind, Black Friday and Cyber Monday offer incredible opportunities. However, success requires careful planning and the right tools. Modern and industry-leading multi-carrier shipping software can be the differentiator that helps your business thrive during these peak seasons. To learn more about how ProShip's solutions can support your holiday success, contact our team. This year, make the most of the holiday shopping frenzy with the power of ProShip’s leading parcel shipping software.