Ecommerce sales have continued to increase each year since 2016, making India the fastest growing ecommerce market. According to Statista, ecommerce sales during the first week of the festive season amounted to INR 290 billion in 2020, compared to INR 190 billion in 2019.
Undoubtedly, the customers and ecommerce brands wait for the festive season alike. It’s the time when online brands can boost their revenue drastically and create an unforgettable impression on customers for all their festive needs of the auspicious onset.
On the other side, the festive season demands a seamless fulfilment experience. If customer orders are not delivered on time in the best condition with a great customer experience, there is a good chance that the customers will not return to your ecommerce brand next year or ever again.
In this blog, you'll learn what is a festive season sale, why festive season order fulfilment matters, tips for ecommerce brands to get ready for a festive sale, and how a tech-enabled 3PL provider like Eshopbox can help ecommerce brands to run a successful festive sale.
A festive season sale is an event where products are sold at a substantial discount during the Indian festive season, for a short duration of time. It aims at attracting online shoppers while they are shopping for annual Indian festivals, such as Diwali, Christmas, Eid, New Year’s, and more.
Typically, festive sales offer deals of 50%-70% off regular MRP (Maximum Retail Price), BOGO (buy one, get one), and more.
Now that you know what a festive season sale entails, let’s see the role of order fulfilment in a festive sale.
Ecommerce businesses are bustling with orders during the festive season which is often termed as the peak season. The entire ecommerce landscape is busy with vigorous sale promotions. If you run a sale during the festive season, you can seize great opportunities—you can get ahead of the competition, win new customers, and boost your revenue.
However, apart from sales promotion and every effort to reach customers, you need seamless order fulfilment for a successful sale. If you run out of stock, can’t ship orders quickly, or fail to deliver orders in time, you can risk losing customers forever and damaging your brand’s reputation.
Adding to this, fulfilment during festive sales can be a daunting task as orders scale up exponentially. You must focus on capacity planning prior to a festive sale to make sure your supply chain is adequately equipped to meet the demand.
You need to plan daily capacity and manpower needs for optimum efficiency. Meanwhile, you should also reallocate all the available resources from other functions like kitting, refurbishment, to one function—festive sale fulfilment. Additionally, you must optimise your pick and pack process to improve your order processing rate and speed. This means, you must prepare adequately by having the right order fulfilment strategy to overcome the chaotic and hectic experiences during this seasonal sale.
Here are some tips for ecommerce brands to get ready for the festive sale:
It’s critical to forecast demand in order to maintain adequate inventory levels on hand during the festive season. As too much inventory can cause you to pay high storage fees while having too little inventory can lead to stockouts.
Though inventory forecasting is never 100% accurate, you can still get your estimates closer to the actual figures. You can start by analysing your historical data and gain insights on sales velocity at the SKU (stock keeping unit) level.
During the festive season, high order volume can result in running out of stock. So, it is important to restock your entire inventory, especially your high selling products to ensure uninterrupted order fulfilment. You can determine the number of days of inventory you have until you are expected to run out, i.e. inventory turnover rate. You can then establish standard inventory levels and reorder points while considering the time taken in inventory reaching the fulfilment centre and any other potential delays that can be common during the festive season.
You can analyse the locations where you generally ship your orders to by looking at your historical data. You can then strategically split your inventory in multiple fulfilment centres near your customers to reduce shipping costs and transit times.
Keeping track of your inventory, whether you sell on a single sales channel or on multiple channels, is vital—especially during the peak season. You can invest in a centralised inventory management system that will help you stay connected between all sales channels and manage your inventory pool from one platform.
The festive season sale implies a high influx of orders. This means you need more manpower and access to a fulfilment infrastructure that scales with your order volume. You can ensure on-time order processing with a streamlined pick and pack process. You can also introduce automation in the process to minimise human errors and embrace time efficiency.
Additionally, if you're selling on multiple marketplaces (Amazon, Flipkart and more), you have to meet their stringent fulfilment guidelines during the sale event—making sure that orders are ready to be shipped on time. Here, outsourcing order fulfilment to a 3PL provider is a great option or you can consider hiring on-demand warehousing and logistics service. It can offer the utmost flexibility to deal with sudden and temporary surges in order volume by providing speedy fulfilment while enhancing customer experiences.
The festive season is an exciting, joyous time of the year. Your packaging should be, too. Create a memorable unboxing experience that will delight your customers when they receive their order, and if your packaging is eco-friendly, even better. Most importantly, to ensure your customers receive their orders in the best condition, you need to use secure packaging material so that customer orders are safe in transit.
The next most important requirement for successful festive sale fulfilment is a strong courier network. This means you need to tie-up with courier companies that has a strong courier network and a wide pincode coverage.
However, partnering with multiple shipping carriers can be troublesome. Moreover, courier companies may apply surcharges and higher shipping rates during peak seasons, but also experience delays— so you must make an effort to keep order deliveries speedy and affordable.
Once the festive season is over, you are most likely to flood with return requests as customers tend to return unwanted purchases. So by making the returns process as easy as possible, you can improve brand loyalty. Moreover, a great returns experience can also encourage your customers to make an exchange, instead of asking for a refund.
First things first, you should start by making every effort to minimise the return rate. Then, work on your returns policy and make it customer-centric. You can determine the time period for returns, expected condition of returned products, necessary documents for returns, and methods of reimbursements. Furthermore, you can create a hassle-free experience for your customers by optimising the entire returns process by ensuring a quick and easy process for initiating a return, scheduling return shipping of the product, conducting quality checks and processing the refund or exchange.
Festive fulfilment means having an order fulfilment process that is fast, consistent, and reliable. The good news is that you don’t have to tackle the festive sale alone! You can outsource fulfilment to third-party logistics (3PL) like Eshopbox to make sure that you are fully prepared for the surge in order volumes.
As an ecommerce brand, there’s one thing you have to do for running a successful festive sale—inform Eshopbox about the duration of the festive sale and the expected surge in order volume. Eshopbox will take care of the rest, from allocating more resources, increasing the daily pick capacity to intimating you with expected dispatch dates for your orders.
Eshopbox leverages robust technology and actionable dashboards that enable you to have complete visibility of your inventory in all stages and order status across multiple sales channels and locations. Most importantly, when you sell a product on one channel, the inventory level gets updated on every channel instantly, preventing the risk of overselling during the sale.
For example, you are selling on Amazon and Myntra. During the festive sale, you have 1 product left in the inventory. A customer places an order on Myntra— resulting in stockout. However, the inventory doesn't get updated on Amazon and a customer places an order on Amazon. Thus, you you sell more than what you actually have. You can avoid overselling by instant inventory updating across all sales channels.
You also have access to advanced reporting and valuable inventory management tools to view inventory levels in real-time, plan inventory replenishment, keep a safety stock, and allocate inventory strategically in the fulfilment centres.
Eshopbox makes delivery transparency at checkout possible and easy!
To ensure your customers get the accurate expected delivery date of their orders, Eshopbox provides you with the dispatch date of your order and the time taken by the shipping provider to deliver orders to specified pin codes. Based on these two, you can set clear expectations with your customers.
For example, a customer from New Delhi places an order on 26 October, 2021. Your inventory is placed in Haryana FC (nearest to the customer location). Eshopbox informs you that the order will be dispatched on the same day and it takes 1-2 days for the shipping provider to deliver that order. Thus, you can provide your customers with the estimated date of delivery—28 October, 2021.
With Eshopbox, you can deliver a great post-purchase experience for your customers by:
When executed wisely, a festive season sale not only helps in time-bound wins but attains long-term goals—it increases customer loyalty. But to ace the festive season sale, you need an order fulfilment strategy and capabilities. So, it’s important to do your homework beforehand if you want seamless fulfilment and great customer experience. Make sure you have stocked up sufficient inventory well in advance and ramped up shipping and fulfilment capabilities to ensure that everything is in place before orders start pouring in.