Preparing for Sales Peaks in E-commerce – A Step-by-Step Guide for Online Stores

In the dynamic landscape of e-commerce, navigating through sales peaks can be quite a challenge. With each surge in demand, the door to unprecedented growth swings open, but only for those who are well-prepared. How to better position yourself for the huge challenge and opportunity that sales peaks present for every e-commerce operation?

 

Whether it's due to hildays, your company's birthday, special promotions, or other market trends, sales peaks can contribute a substential share to your yearly revenue. However, success hinges on meticulous preparation.

 

It's not just meeting the immediare demand but also about ensuring a seamless and efficient process that leaves a positive impression on your customers. The extra volume needs extra resources to maintain your workflows. Tha means additional space, additional staff, and optimized, tech-driven processes. If you don't have the resources ready to handle the sales rush, the result can be delays, errors, returns, dissatisfied customers, bad reviews, and lost sales.

 

But all this is easy to avoid if you follow the right steps.

 

The Q4 frenzy – Black Week and Christmas in e-commerce

While sales peaks can occur at various times throughout the year, Q4 tends to be the pinnacle of e-commerce activity. The holiday season, coupled with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, brings a tidal wave of orders that can either make or break your logistics operations.

 

We discussed the details during a webinar dedicated to the topic and with special guests, all experienced experts from the e-commerce industry:

 

📦 Jocelyn Charman - Wild

📦 Justyna Tylak-Nowis - My Basic

📦 Huzefa Motorwala - Comfort Click

📦 Abdelhak Amraoui - Channel Engine

Spotkanie poprowadził:

📦 Tomek Kasperski - Omnipack

 

Watch the webinar and learn:

🔴🔵 What aspects of online stores you should focus on during the busy season

🔴🔵 The typical mistakes made by online stores and how to avoid them

🔴🔵 Why September is the best time to prepare

 

Sign up HERE and watch a recording of the webinar.

 

Watch the recording from the webinar on how to master your Q4

In November we will do two months of sales in one month. So we have a normal month up until Black Friday kicks off and then in the 10-day period when we run the sales, we get a month’s worth of orders in those ten days and Omnipack gets to pack like crazy!

Jocelyn Charman

Director of Operations, Wild

 

Moderately Seasonal (75%): Black Week orders double, and Christmas sees a 20% increase, reflecting a substantial but more manageable surge.

Not Seasonal (13%): For these businesses, there are no major sales peaks, providing a stable order volume throughout the year.

 

Understanding these diverse patterns is integral to tailoring logistics strategies to the specific needs of each merchant, ensuring optimal performance during routine and peak periods. 

 

For any particular merchant handling large sales peaks is an extreme challenge. A professional fulfillment center has a different perspective – there’s a buffer resulting from how many various merchants we work with.


How sales peaks impact an e-commerce business?

 

For companies that run their warehouses and handle e-commerce logistics on their own, such sudden increases can cause many problems. To fulfill all orders properly and on time, it is often necessary to:

 

  • hire additional employees
  • use and manage more storage space
  • improve the overall organization of processes
  • accurately predict how many different resources you will need

 

Inadequate preparation can have very serious consequences. Stores that run their own warehouse are often unable to cope with sudden sales spikes, resulting in errors in orders, delayed deliveries, returns, and negative opinions posted online by customers. Failure to use the full sales potential is a huge mistake in this industry and kills any chance you have to achieve record profits.

 

Another huge risk when preparing for sales peaks is underestimating, or even worse, overestimating resources. Sales peaks last a relatively short time and sales return to normal levels just a few days later. This means that it is not possible to expand your warehouse or employ additional people only for a few weeks for practical reasons. And that usually means that it’s necessary to find other solutions to handle the surge in orders. 

 

Fulfillment for e-commerce – the solution for sales peaks 

 

Working with a fulfillment center is a great solution to logistical challenges. An experienced partner who specializes in logistics for e-commerce can not only save you from trouble but also ensure the highest possible quality and correct order processing, even during sales peaks.

 

Fulfillment centers have their own warehouse space, professionally developed processes, trained employees and extensive experience in e-commerce logistics. Regardless of your order volume, the industry you operate in, and your specific needs, a logistics partner will be able to:

 

  • Organize any storage space for you, which can be scaled up or down, depending on your needs, helping you avoid underestimating or overestimating resources
  • Handle your orders as quickly and efficiently as possible, avoiding many mistakes that are often made by companies running their own warehouses
  • Hire additional people to handle your orders, which helps you avoid the costs of recruiting and training employees, and provide a notice period when there is a need to reduce the team

 

As a 3PL we take care of all the physical aspects of online sales. We make sure that the capacity is there to handle both standard operations and extra workload during sales peaks e.g. warehouse space, staff, extra pickups from couriers, etc. We can manage anything our merchants need, provided that we know about it upfront. If one of the merchants misses their forecast by 10%, it's not a problem. It, however, becomes a problem if everybody is conservative and sells 30% above what they planned. That's why input from our merchants and detailed planning is crucial.

Tomek Kasperski

Founder & CEO, Omnipack

 

Why Omnipack fulfillment is your best choice

 

In the early days of Omnipack, we learned our lessons about meeting sales peaks during busy times. We are perfectly aware of how big a challenge this is and what a difficult situation it creates for e-commerce companies that do not specialize in logistics.

 

Thanks to many years of experience, we now know how to effectively manage e-commerce logistics even during sales peaks. Here’s how:

 

  • We communicate effectively. To properly prepare your company for sales peaks, we always get historical and current sales data from you. This allows us to compare your estimates with our calculations and then prepare for the most likely order volume.
  • We plan resources. In our fulfillment centers, we have 30,000 sqm of warehouse space and both internal and external employees at our disposal. The calculations and estimations made allow us to plan their work in a way that will handle all your orders quickly and error-free.
  • We are flexible. During sales peaks, if necessary, we even work at night and on weekends. Thanks to this, we can guarantee on-time delivery of all parcels, even those ordered almost at the last minute.

 

Thanks to our experience and methods, we achieve a 99.95% perfect order ratio, even in busy periods like Q4. We know from working with 100+ online stores that it is nearly impossible to achieve such a result when using your own logistics center without professional support. 

The advantages of e-commerce fulfillment 

What do you gain by moving your e-commerce logistics to a professional fulfillment center? 

 

  • Dependability. By cooperating with a logistics partner, you don't have to worry about late or incorrect orders - we minimize such risks and, if necessary, handle complaints ourselves.
  • Fast order delivery. Our fulfillment centers are located close to key transport hubs and courier companies, which allows for fast shipments of orders. In Germany and Poland it only takes us 1 day (1-4 days in other European countries), and couriers pick up orders even after 8 PM.
  • Flexibility. Thanks to cooperation with Omnipack, you can freely scale your resources up or down, depending on current demand. This is not possible in your own warehouse, where it is difficult to suddenly rent a larger space or periodically hire or fire employees.
  • Lower logistics costs & pay-per-use settlement. An important aspect of working with a fulfillment center is that you only pay for the resources you actually use - the packages sent and the space your stock takes up. What's more, when you work with us, you only pay for the warehouse space you use, not for office space, aisles, etc., the costs of which you have to cover when running your own warehouse.
  • Guaranteed price levels. When prices around are rising quickly, you have a flat free for all logistics services throughout the year. You don't pay for each service seperately. Instead, each area of your e-commerce logistics is handled by one partner.
  • Efficient returns handling. Returned goods that reach our fulfillment centers will quickly be put back on sale. We not only handle the tricky logistics of returns, but also provide you with full information about the status of all returns.
  • More time. By entrusting complex e-commerce logistics to an experienced partner, you gain a lot of time and free up the resources needed to develop your business. Thanks to this, you can, for example, improve your offer and plan promotions, which will allow you to acquire new customers and increase profits.

How to prepare for sales peaks in e-commerce?

When getting your e-commerce business ready for sales peaks, there’s no reason to reinvent the wheel. Focus on planning and communication with your partners and you’ll be all right. Here are 7 key areas to cover.


1. Planning – you can't start too early. Take a minute to do a recap of what was good and bad last sales peak. A few months in advance start detailed planning and getting all areas of your business ready.

 

We also start early, mainly with the products that we order from our external suppliers. In January we have to figure out how many products we need to order to be sold in November. That's quite a difficult and risky decision to make. But mainly, as we produce all of our clothes in Poland, it's quite easy for us to restock along the way. In February-March we create new models and in September-October we decide how many items we will manufacture.

Justyna Tylak-Nowis

Founder & CEO, MyBasic

 

2. Promos – make them simple. If you have a couple of different promotions overlapping, customers will get confused. The Top 3 promos recommended by our merchants are bundles, limited editions, and free delivery.

3. Inbound – start detailed planning a few months in advance aiming for a high stock holding position at least a month before your sales rush. If apart from B2C you also do retail, plan for two waves – you want to get the retail orders ready at least a month before your sales peak, so your 3PL can fully focus on e-commerce orders when necessary.

4. Technology – sales peak success is all about stability. Focus on capacity planning and patching – don't push for any major deployments.

5. Logistics – our merchants say that when working with us they don't prepare on the logistics side. We take everything off their shoulders. That being said, an efficient partnership with a fulfillment center starts with good communication. Tell your 3PL what you're planning so that they know what to expect and can prepare. Respect their processing time.

 

We have to respect the processing time of our 3PL – Omnipack. You guys are getting deliveries from all your merchants. We can't expect that if we send something today, it will be checked in later that same day. We try to give you a bit of a breatheway. If you get a last-minute surprise, there is nothing you can do, and eventually, it's going to hit us back.

Huzefa Motorwala

General Manager, Comfort Click

 

6. Measuring for success – pick out key metrics that you think give you a good indication of how well you're performing and make sure you track them daily to spot if something goes wrong.

7. When something goes wrong – it's okay, no brand gets this perfect. Stay calm, analyze, talk to your partners, and try not to make the same mistake twice. 

 

If it's a Q4 that you're focused on, remember that preparation starts in Q3, in the late summer when Christmas seems far away. But even though these two times of the year seem far apart, that’s the time it takes to get everything in order for a busy online shopping season.

 

Want Q4 to be flawless? Here's a timeline to follow. If your sales peak is at another time, just adjust the months and the timeline below will work just as well. 

 

Q4 timeline for an e-commerce business:

  • January: recap of what was good and bad last sales peak
  • June-September: detailed planning of each area of your e-commerce operation (e.g. manufacturing, marketing, customer service, technology, etc.) 
  • September-October: full focus on wholesale orders (e.g. B2B orders for large retail stores)
  • October-Early November: high stock holding position ready at the fulfillment center
  • November-December: full focus on B2C orders

 

If you are talking about joining new channels, you may start preparing that in March or April to get into those channels and get your integration ready.

Abdelhak Amraoui

Partnerships Manager, Channel Engine

 

Notice there’s no mention of warehouse or logistics – if you work with a fulfillment center, this area is taken off your shoulders completely.

 

When you’re following the steps above, your fulfillment center takes care of logistics.

 

Q4 timeline for a fulfillment center:

  • January: recap of what was good and bad last sales peak
  • June-September: serious preparations, including forecasting (own estimations + discussions with merchants), and resource planning (volume estimations, capacity planning, staff, infrastructure, IT, communication, couriers, etc.). Teams involved: Demand & Capacity Planning, Logistics Operations, HR, IT, Merchant Success, Marketing and Communications
  • September-October: inbound + outbound of wholesale orders (B2B) for our merchants
  • October-Early November: 2nd inbound wave for e-commerce orders (B2C) for our merchants
  • Week Before Black Friday: everything set and ready for the coming sales peak  
  • Black Week-End of December: full focus on handling B2C orders for our merchants 

 

Preparing to handle sales peaks requires a good plan, and if you decide to move your logistics to a fylfillment center, Q3 is usually the deadline to reserve the space.

 

Why is it worth starting cooperation with a fulfillment center at least a few months before your sales peak? You need the time to enter into negotiations, sign a contract, conduct onboarding and hand over delivery services to your logistics partner, as well as send test orders. It all takes time, so waiting until the last moment rushes the process and increases the risks involved. 

 

If you are considering cooperation with a fulfillment center, contact us now. This will allow us to reserve space for you in our warehouses and help you prepare for sales peaks so that they are as profitable as possible for your online store.

 

Learn more about how we can help you get the most out of your sales peaks.

Contact us

 

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