A Merchant’s Guide to Holiday Ecommerce Fulfillment Success

If Amazon Prime Day is any indication of what’s to be expected during this year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, we’re in for another year of holiday shopping season mayhem.

With the line continuing to blur between physical and digital and ecommerce, here are four steps merchants can take to prepare for holiday ecommerce success from Cyber Weekend on: 

Optimizing Inventory Management

Merchants should ensure that their data and inventory systems are well-equipped to support high transaction volumes during the holiday season. Key to ensuring a seamless holiday ecommerce shipping process is an understanding of inventory location and how best to ship products at all times. One of the most effective ways of doing this is warehouse/inventory management with in-store analytics and intelligent shipping.

Optimizing shipping processes for location, labor and cost enables merchants to deliver a streamlined customer journey as efficiently as possible. Enhancements to inventory management systems allows quick order sourcing and optimized direct-to-customer shipping, either from stores or ecommerce DCs, providing a competitive advantage.

A Seamless Experience Both Personal and Relevant

Especially during the holidays, customers expect seamless interactions regardless of channel. This includes how product data is used to inform recommendations and preferences.

Similar to engaging with a store associate, enhancing website and mobile capabilities to boost personalization and purchase confidence increases conversion rates, cuts down on returns and increases customer satisfaction.

Technology to Accommodate Increasing Customer Needs 

As revealed in last year’s Pitney Bowes’ Global Shopping Study, the main concern consumers have when it comes to shipping — particularly during the holidays — is whether their shipments will arrive on time.

The use of API technology can facilitate a range of complex inventory and shipping processes, as well as optimization models, to augment systems for merchants. APIs can help them better manage costs through expanded carrier selection, tracking and integration with critical systems.

Cloud-based solutions are much faster to deploy than on-premise software. They’re easier to connect to existing systems and can be implemented in a phased approach with limited production impact, removing concerns about interrupted operations. They can also be updated with new capabilities on a regular basis, offering investment protection and ever-increasing value.

With the help of complete, optimized shipping solutions and APIs, merchants can achieve fast fulfillment and shipping, expanded global reach and the personalized touch today’s consumers have come to expect.

Prepare for Global Customers

Merchants looking to maximize returns leading into this busy holiday season should prepare for cross-border commerce capabilities. Now more than ever, people want direct access to brands and companies they love across the globe, presenting an exciting opportunity to engage with new audiences.

With shopping becoming increasingly borderless, especially during the holiday season, expect shoppers to continue prioritizing ease-of-access and the power of choice.

Last year, 66% of shoppers reported placing at least one cross-border order, according to our study. Furthermore, one-third of them said they shop across borders at least once a month.  Consumers today demand access to the products they want – anytime, anywhere – and no longer see cross-border as a deterrent. Ensuring that commerce capabilities for each region are set up to provide seamless shopping and transactions will further ensure holiday success.

To maximize potential gains from Cyber Weekend through Christmas, merchants must be prepared to accommodate the needs of today’s increasingly savvy, demanding global consumer. And if anything, consumer expectations are only going to continue to rise. Following these four steps will set you up for holiday ecommerce success in the short term and for years to come.

Michael Griffiths is Vice President, Marketing and Communications, Retail and Global Ecommerce for Pitney Bowes