Some of the biggest dates on any sales calendar are coming up soon and now is the time to make sure that you’re ready.
What started with Black Friday gradually added Cyber Monday (the Friday and Monday after the American holiday of Thanksgiving) and has now turned into Black Week. No matter how many days it eventually grows to include, it will always be a critical time for any online retailer, with the power to determine your sales results for the whole year.
A trend that was already strongly moving ahead — the transition from brick & mortar to online sales — got a major push last year because of the pandemic. New records for online sales were set everywhere. Millions of first-time online shoppers and late adopters joined the rush and a huge percentage of them aren’t going back to their old habits.
Here’s the bottom line — Black Week 2021 is going to be huge.
This report on the state of ecommerce as we head into the busy holiday season is full of interesting facts and stats but one that stands out is that almost a quarter of ecommerce operations admit to being unprepared for upcoming rush. This can be related to product sourcing, staffing, marketing campaigns and much else but often it’s the result of not being ready to get all those orders picked, packaged and sent on their way.
Source: Packhelp, E-commerce Trend Report 2021: Holiday Season
In short, getting orders is the easy part. Fulfilling then is the challenge that proves to be too much for online stores that don’t plan ahead. Do you have the resources to do it on your own? Would you be better off outsourcing this critical task? There’s still time to decide but that sound you hear is a deadline getting very close.
Special challenges for the fashion industry
In addition to the usual pressures everyone faces, brands in the fashion industry deal with other issues in particular during Black Week and the weeks that follow. We at Omnipack know their challenges quite well since about half of our clients operate in that highly competitive industry.
We all know how fierce the competition is and how hard it is to stand out for fashion brands but let’s focus on the logistical challenges involved. Any sudden spike in orders means having the capacity to quickly get filled and sent out the door. Without it, packages quickly stack up and customer service lines are flooded with calls and complaints about late or missing orders. There is very little room for error here and customer satisfaction depends entirely on smooth procedures that should be in place well before the Black Week tsunami.
High volumes of packages demand specialized expertise in the field of order fulfillment. Without it, you risk ruining the customer relationships that you have worked so hard to build. Remember what they say about how much cheaper it is to keep an existing customer than to attract a new one! Poor logistics during Black Week can erase much of the progress you’ve made in building your client base.
Another major issue for fashion brands is returns. These are standard in the industry anyway, but recent shifts in consumer behavior have resulted in new problems to deal with, like customers ordering multiple colors or styles with the intention of only keeping a few.
Processing a high volume of inevitable returns demands the same logistics resources as sending the orders to customers does. A logistics partner that can efficiently deal with returns takes an enormous, time-consuming burden off your shoulders.
Here’s how Omnipack handled Black Week last year
To give you a better idea of just how much a jump in volume we handled last year, we’ll let the statistics do the talking.
From Q3 to Q4 in 2020, our international orders rose by 14% and orders from our domestic Polish clients more than doubled, rising by an incredible 65%. Returns also increased, by 21%.
One client of ours, PanPablo, needed one-and-a-half or two weeks to fulfill Black Week orders before working with Omnipack. Now their orders are prepared and sent on their way in one day and they won’t see any extra delays heading into this year’s Black Week.
We had a record number of orders during last year's Black Friday. Catching up with the orders took nearly two weeks. Now, Omnipack, with 2-3 weeks' notice before the promotion, is able to send the same number of orders with a maximum of a one-day delay, and usually they do everything sooner.
Founder of PanPablo
Another Omnipack client benefitted not only from increased sales, but the confidence to move forward without worrying about their ability to handle the increased volume.
We are very happy with last year’s Black Friday result – actually, Black Weekend might be a better way to put it. What pleased us was not only the increase in sales but also the smooth and trouble-free delivery of all orders on time – and we know that there were many more orders than usual. Although this day is always associated with some kind of tension: ‘Will we be able to get it done?’, and ‘Can we pack everything and send it on time?’ Last year we had the comfort of knowing that everything would go according to plan.”
HubStyle (Cardio Bunny and Sugarfree)
Here’s what coopering with Omnipack looks like
Whether you’re from the fashion industry or just about anywhere else, you can enjoy the same logistics upgrade as PanPablo and Hubstyle for Black Week 2021.
Upon formalizing our agreement, every client sets a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with us. This specifies the number of orders Omnipack fulfills on behalf of the client on a monthly basis. It’s an elastic agreement, meaning there’s always room to change the amount involved with a notice a week before the start of a new month.
You can even change your SLA for a particular day for times when, for example, you have a targeted promotion planned that will result in an increase in orders on a particular day. So whatever your SLA is, if you’re expecting, say, three times your normal volume on Black Friday, your SLA can be increased to that level in order to guarantee that three times the number of your normal orders are filled and shipped that day.
Our warehouses are equipped with monitors that help us to know exactly how many orders have been sent on a particular day and how many are left in order to meet the guaranteed SLA. This helps us to plan our work better and ensure we meet all obligations to get your orders processed and on their way to your customers.
We’re able to handle higher volumes of orders to best serve the needs of our clients. When needed, we add second shifts, expand our staff and work on weekends to ensure that we are meeting both your expectations and those of your customers.
Here’s what you get by partnering with Omnipack for Black Week (and beyond)
Let’s highlight the main benefits you instantly enjoy by trusting Omnipack with your logistics needs during Black Week and heading into the holiday season.
- Avoiding difficult staffing issues. Finding, training and onboarding staff can be a challenge under the best of circumstances. The time pressures of the holiday shopping season can turn that challenge into a nightmare, especially in areas with tight labor markets. On top of that, without the right experience and staffing, personnel concerns can distract you from your core mission of serving and satisfying customers.
By outsourcing your logistics needs to Omnipack, you can focus on what you do best while enjoying the confidence that comes with entrusting the job to specialists. There’s no need to divert resources to recruitment duties, conducting interviews and dealing with the administrative burden of adding staff at a time when you should be dedicating 100% of your effort to making the most of the opportunities that Black Week presents.
- You don’t have to buy an extra ton of packing materials. More orders means more packing materials that you need to fulfill them. This means guessing how much you will need, sourcing everything, finding a place for it in your facility, organizing all of those materials and developing a process to use everything efficiently in the next month or so.
That is, if you can even find the materials you think you will need. It might be too late already.
Do you want to devote the crucial weeks leading up to Black Week to arranging stacks of packing materials in your storage space or refining your product offer, making sure you have inventory on hand, perfecting your online campaigns or a thousand other things that can directly impact your sales?
Just as with the previous point about staffing, working with a logistics partner takes practical things like packing materials off the list of things you need to worry about, allowing you to focus on maximizing sales.
- You won’t have to ask anyone to wait for their package. Like it or not, asking a customer to wait today is like asking them to go to another store. Wait longer for a delivery? What is this, 2010?
With Omnipack as your fulfillment partner, your orders go out as quickly as possible, either on the same day or the next, depending on when it’s received. The quickest possible delivery is a crucial and expected part of today’s online shopping experience and failing to meet those expectations can do real damage to your reputation.
Don’t disappoint customers or, worse, lose them to a competitor that reliably delivers in the time frame that has become the modern ecommerce standard — as fast as possible.
- Faster return processing. As an experienced retailer, you understand that returns are part of the game. A substantial portion of purchases made during Black Week will be returned or exchanged and you need to be as prepared to process them as you were when they were initially shipped to the customer.
Just as customers expect to quickly receive their purchases, they expect returns to be processed without delay. Returns and exchanges are just as much a part of the customer experience as anything else. Taking care of them as quickly as possible is a key part of setting up a customer’s next purchase. Unreasonable delays or problems during returns can make them think twice about coming back.
Are you ready to have your limited space flooded with returns in the days following Black Week? Do you want to spend entire days (or weeks?) processing stacks of returns in early December while other online retailers are pivoting to the Christmas season?
We didn’t think so. Omnipack is ready to take this job off your hands and, once again, let you focus completely on taking advantage of the busiest time of the year.
Want to eliminate any doubts about your ability to handle this year’s Black Week and holiday season? Thinking about how a logistics partner could streamline your operations and help you increase sales? Time is running out, so reach out to us and let’s talk about how you can get started before it’s too late!