How Road Runner Sports trains for holiday fulfillment

Given that the fourth quarter is the busiest time for most merchants, how well they prepare for the big season is crucial to success. Jennifer Melzer, director of customer experience for San Diego-based Road Runner Sports, spoke to Multichannel Merchant’s Jim Tierney about how the running equipment and apparel cataloger gets ready for the holidays.

Q: What kind of preparation is involved for your holiday shipping period, and when do those preparations begin?

At Road Runner Sports, we begin conversations about the holiday season early in the year, and by August we are in full swing planning. Our efforts are around making the holiday season a flawless experience for our customers, and we prepare by covering things such as proper staff, inventory, carrier pick ups, etc. to fulfill those orders as promised to the customer.

Q: How much larger is your staff during the holiday period?

We generally see an increase in required hours of approximately 15% to 20%. We cover these needed hours with support from our corporate team members, including our executive team, who pitch in during the holiday season to help ensure we meet our promises to our customers. They spend hours each week working in the distribution center.

Q: Do you learn things each year as far as tweaking the operation for better efficiency?

As an organization, we constantly recognize and act on areas of opportunity and process improvements. The holidays are no different for us than any other time of the year.

Q: What have you learned in the past year or two in this regard?

We challenge our processes throughout the year and, as a result, even the smallest tweaks impact our costs and/or revenue. We never stop looking at what we do and saying “Could we do it better?” no matter how big or small.

Q: What are the biggest challenges involved in properly fulfilling all holiday orders?

Customers expect to get what they want, get it when they need it, and it has to be right. Our promise throughout the year is to make sure we deliver as promised, so again, during the holidays it’s not different for us.

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