Every year e-commerce sales are at an all time high during November and December. This is largely driven by Christmas shopping, alongside retail events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In 2020, peak was the busiest period in the history of e-commerce. A combination of factors, most notably Covid lockdown restrictions, boosted the number of online shoppers and increased the range of products consumers choose to buy online. This pushed the value of internet retail sales in the UK up 80% to £3.25 billion in November 2020 compared with £1.81 billion in Nov 2019.
Q4 always presents a variety of challenges for eCommerce sellers. Whether it’s ensuring your website can handle the traffic spikes, getting stock manufactured or fulfilling orders on time. Read on to find out what we learned from last year's peak and what you need to do to ensure your customers have a good shopping experience this year.
During the peak period last year our warehouses needed to prioritise picking and packing orders to get everything despatched on time. This meant that our promise of booking in deliveries of stock within 24 hours was not realistic and we have revised the promise to 96 hours during the peak months this year.
To ensure your products are ready to go so that you don’t miss out on any sales, it is best to forecast your order volume for October, November and December. Getting your stock in the warehouse ahead of time will reduce the chance of any errors or delays. This is even more important If your products are coming from somewhere like China which may mean having them shipped on the 30th September to ensure they arrive safely at the warehouse before the end of October.
To get your stock ready as fast as possible and reduce errors it is best practice to ensure that your suppliers send different SKU’s in different cartons.
Sellers that have yet to go live at one of our warehouses will need to complete the onboarding process by the 15th October at the latest to be ready for peak.
Forecasting & On Time Despatch
Not only is forecasting your order volume essential to having the right amount of stock ready to be despatched, it is also necessary to let us know your peak season sales forecast so that we can correctly plan our warehouse operations to ensure all of your orders are despatched on time.
To speed up order processing during peak, our warehouses will use your forecast to pre-bundle high volume orders thereby reducing the fulfilment time to ensure we can meet the delivery promise for your customers.
The operations team will be contacting sellers soon with a forecasting form to complete by the 15th of September.
Last year the majority of products that were not despatched on time were from orders that were manually uploaded. This becomes increasingly problematic when manual orders are uploaded close to the warehouse cutoff time. These orders often become delayed as they are more prone to errors in the shipping information which are only caught at the fulfilment stage. To reduce the chance of delays it is best for sellers to integrate their sales channels so that orders are automatically received and checked by the Bezos.ai system.
It’s not just the warehouses that struggle during peak, parcel carriers find it difficult to keep up with demand and last year only 75% of orders were collected on time throughout peak.
A further 10.4% tracked deliveries were delayed after the point of collection, although 35% of these were international orders that were held up due to COVID-19 restrictions.
It is worth noting that during peak couriers often suspend their SLAs and do not guarantee delivery times. As a result, sellers may not be able to seek remittance for delays. Additionally, while we cannot predict what will happen in a few months' time, there is currently a shortage of delivery drivers which may get worse as we go into the winter months if Covid makes another surge. This could increase the chance of shipping delays.
Bezos.ai will endeavour to keep you updated with the most reliable carriers throughout peak to minimise delays to your customers receiving orders. We currently recommend only using trackable courier services: for ‘Next Day’ we recommend - Yodel and DPD, for ‘Standard (48 Hour)’ - Parcelforce, for ‘International’: DHL and WPX.
During peak returns will not be processed immediately as there are often high quantities of orders being sent back. The returns process requires hands-on work unpackaging, checking and restocking items which is normally completed within 48 hours. However, during peak this can take up to 5 days as the warehouse team will be focusing on despatching your orders on time.
November and December, particularly around Black Friday and Cyber Monday, is an extremely busy period for e-commerce. To help us ensure we can get your orders out on time, communication and forward planning plays an important role. Throughout the period Bezos.ai will endeavour to keep our sellers updated on carrier performance, correct despatch policies, and the status of their orders to keep everything running smoothly and allow you to keep your customers informed. We believe transparency is best to keep everyone's expectations aligned.
If you have any questions feel free to get in touch with the team.