With precious little time left to make changes for peak season, many companies are scrambling to implement last-minute solutions that will help them minimize errors and scale appropriately with increased order volumes this holiday season. Unfortunately, consumers can be impatient and less than understanding during the holidays, when they especially need their purchases to arrive on time, correctly, and safely.

Creating a positive customer experience depends heavily on building a successful fulfillment process. However, errors and delays in the fulfillment process can harm a company’s reputation and result in the loss of repeat business. Fortunately, it isn’t quite the 11th hour yet, and there’s still some time to make changes that can greatly impact your fulfillment and delivery capabilities over the holiday season.

Peak Season Solutions You Can Still Implement

Back-to-school season is in full swing, but the main event is still a couple of months away. There may not be time to overhaul your entire fulfillment operation, but that doesn’t mean you’re out of time. Here are some things you can still do before volumes soar.

1. Diversify your carrier base for peak season

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, it was considered a best practice to give the bulk of your delivery volume to a single parcel carrier to ensure the highest possible volume-related discounts. After years of supply chain disruptions, however, things have changed. Rather than putting all your packages in one proverbial basket, spread volume around between multiple carriers to ensure that a disruption at one carrier won’t stall your entire peak season fulfillment operation.

Carefully evaluate your carrier network to ensure enough capacity to get orders to their destinations on time. Remember, there are other ways to deliver orders besides the major parcel carriers like USPS, UPS, and FedEx. Other options could include regional carriers, couriers, and crowdsourced delivery apps. Be sure to explore the full range of alternatives to see what will fit best with your current strategy.

2. Establish a way to keep your customers updated

If we’ve learned anything over the last several years, it’s that the supply chain is unpredictable and disruptive events can come out of nowhere. Events out of your control that might disrupt your fulfillment operation during peak season include:

  • Inclement weather (blizzards, hurricanes, tornados, etc.)
  • Infrastructure problems (bridge collapses, highway closures, etc.)
  • Labor issues (staffing shortages, strikes, etc.)
  • Black Swan events (Ever Given, Panama Canal drought, etc.)

In the unfortunate event that something disrupts a step in your end-to-end fulfillment operation, ensure that you have the means to keep customers up to date with real-time information on the status of their orders. Providing this information can help you salvage a customer relationship, especially in situations where you have little control over the disruption itself.

3. Implement verification procedures

Sometimes, packages get lost, which can be a frustrating experience for you and your customers. Boxes fall out of trucks, fall off pallets, and get stolen off porches — but sometimes, they just get labeled badly. Online sellers should ensure that their website verifies addresses during checkout, which can significantly reduce the number of packages that end up at a neighbor’s house or in the deep, dark recesses of USPS’s Mail Recovery Center.

On the other end of the shipment, work with your delivery provider to put measures in place that verify deliveries. Photo verification is ideal because it can help you prove to a customer that a package was delivered. This capability can be especially important if the delivery was stolen or placed somewhere the customer wouldn’t think to look.

Get Help from Your Favorite Peak Season 3PL

Navigating the complexities of peak season is challenging, to say the least. But if you rely on a 3PL to help you with peak season, ask your provider for additional tips that will help you streamline order management and fulfillment through the holidays. Your logistics partner may have resources available for onboarding technology and staff, or implementing other measures before the core peak season hits.

About Phoenix Logistics

Strategic Real Estate. Applied Technology. Tailored Service. Creativity. Flexibility. These fundamentals reflect everything we do at Phoenix Logistics. We provide specialized support in locating and attaining the correct logistics solutions for every client we serve. Most logistic competitors work to win 3PL contracts, and then attempt to secure the real estate to support it. As an affiliate of giant industrial real estate firm Phoenix Investors, we can quickly secure real estate solutions across its portfolio or leverage its market and financial strength to quickly source and acquire real estate to meet our client’s need.

Frank P. Crivello is a Milwaukee-based developer and Chairman & Founder of Phoenix Investors.