It’s been a banner year so far for holiday eCommerce sales.
According to comScore, Cyber Monday 2015 ranked as the heaviest digital spending day in history, with $3.118 billion spent online. Brick and mortar stores saw a 10.4 percent decrease in Black Friday sales this year, while unique desktop traffic increased by just 2 percent. Mobile, on the other hand, exploded by every measure, boasting 52 percent growth year over year in unique visitors on Black Friday.
In addition, Adobe found that out of stock rates were at an all time high on Cyber Monday, with 13 percent of products viewed being out of stock. This is more than double the normal rate for the holiday season. As we dive deeper into this – and other – busy times of the year, some businesses are scrambling to move more inventory online and develop some sort of mobile presence to capture the rapid growth eCommerce is experiencing, while others are simply holding on for the wild ride.
3PLs are the Secret to Success
As you might imagine, 3rd party logistics companies are going to be vital to eCommerce success this online shopping season. Some business owners may already be panicking, but their 3rd party logistics partners aren’t stressing a bit. They have plenty of useful tools and tricks in place to ensure that even this crazy holiday season will go smoothly for online shoppers everywhere.
Here are just a few ways that 3PLs keep all this holiday chaos under control:
Shopping cart integration. As soon as your customer pays for his purchase, your 3PL removes the item they purchased from inventory and sends orders to the warehouse for the item to be collected and packed. Those electronic records travel fast, enabling fulfillment to begin immediately.
Bar code scanning. Your 3PL knows that accuracy is vital, especially at the holidays. No one wants to receive a carefully-selected gift only to discover it’s the wrong color, wrong size or just the entirely wrong item. That’s why modern 3PLs use bar code scanning to ensure that items that are pulled from inventory are accurate and check again before packing to verify that the order is complete and correct.
EDI (Electronic Data Interchange). Using EDI to send word ahead to shippers can shave time off of delivery schedules and further eliminate delivery errors. By transmitting shipping orders electronically rather than over a fax machine or the phone, 3PLs avoid the kind of mistakes that can be introduced by transcription. Your packages move faster and get to the right place right away because of EDI.
Customer web portal. Providing your customers with a web portal that follows their packages from order inception to delivery can reduce the number of calls and emails you get inquiring about order status. Not only does it empower customers to answer their own questions, it frees you up to reorder stock, manage product questions and keep your business running smoothly.
This holiday, like the many that have come before, your 3PL is hard at work making sure that every order in this banner year makes it to the customers who placed them. You can think of your 3PL partners a little like Santa in that way — they’re the unseen, unsung heroes of the holiday shopping season.