No, I mean are you really ready?
Here are some things that I thought of that maybe you haven’t in regards to getting your operation ready for the mad rush.
- Adjust your customer service hours to accommodate early morning and late evening shoppers. This time of the year not everyone is going to be a 9 to 5 shopper. It may cost a few extra dollars to staff your customer service department a few more hours a day, but those extra hours should bring in extra sales.
- Make sure all your reps are fully trained on your store’s policies and they have a copy of policies in reach at all times. All reps should be “on the same page” with policies, a quick meeting with your staff to go over polices and get rid of any gray areas is also suggested.
- There will be one-off situations where you may have to deviate from policy. Make sure this deviation doesn’t become the norm by having such deviations approved and noted by a supervisor. It’s also a good thing to let the customer know that you’re making an exception for them as a one time courtesy.
- Attitude is everything! Your customer service department is going to be busy, so make sure you’re not overworking your reps to the point where they’re not providing courteous service to your customers. Make sure they have scheduled breaks so they can de-stress and prepare to get back to work. Providing motivation throughout the day goes a big way too, bring in some pizza, hop on the phone yourself to help out when it’s busy and don’t forget to acknowledge good service when you see or hear it.
- Just like customer service, you are going to want to adjust your warehouse hours accordingly to keep up with the holiday demand. You don’t want orders sitting in a warehouse for two, three or four days because you’re not staffed properly. Your customers expect their orders to be shipped on time, so don’t let them down.
- Always make sure that express packages that customers are paying extra for, get out on time. You don’t want to be issuing refunds for shipping because the warehouse “forgot” to get air orders out before ground.
- Spot check packages to make sure the items inside have been packaged properly. You don’t want breakage – especially this time of the year! Pull packages that have been packed and prepared for shipment and open them up to make sure breakable items are wrapped properly, the right amount of dunnage has been used and any promotional material has been inserted with the items.
- If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to move your fast selling items to the head of your pick line. This saves lots of time and keeps your warehouse moving.
- Safety should always be on the top of everyone’s mind in the warehouse. While the pace of operations has increased, common sense should still prevail. Make sure no short-cuts are taking place that could result in injury and that your warehouse staff is trained on proper lifting and equipment use. And never, ever, let people operate machinery that they haven’t been properly trained on.
- Create daily goals for package output and accuracy – and reward your staff for hitting those numbers. A pizza party on Friday goes a long way and be sure to constantly motivate the guys and gals doing the heavy lifting! They’re the lifeblood of your operation and they’re literally busting their butt for you this time of year. “Atta-boys” all around!
Your eCommerce Store:
- What does your store look like? I hope you have a nice holiday header that’s free of flashing lights, blinking reindeer noses and falling snowflakes littering the screen. Just like department stores decorate for the holiday, you should have your store showing some spirit as well. But don’t go overboard! You want to put people in the holiday shopping mood – not turn the off.
- Create a gift buying section on your site broken down into categories that make sense to your customers. Gifts for Him, Gifts for Her, Gifts for Kids 12 and Under…. you get the picture. Don’t make customers hunt all over for gift items, lead that horse to the water!
- Make sure your polices are up to date – especially your return policy – and provide a link to your policy page in your order confirmation. One thing you don’t want to do is make your policies so restrictive nobody wants to buy from you. Returns are a part of doing business and you’re going to get items back, don’t look at returns as an enemy!
- Prominently post your customer service telephone number, extended holiday hours and any other contact information on your site for easy shopper reference. A telephone number should always be in the header of your website.
- If you’re using live chat, USE IT! I’ve seen way too many sites offer live chat but when you go to use it you’re prompted with a “sorry, we’re closed” message. Most live chat programs allow you the ability to use a different graphic when your chat reps are unavailable – take advantage of that. Don’t promote live chat when nobody is around to, well…. chat.
- Check your home page featured items. If they’re out of stock, remove them!
Of course these are just a few things you should be looking for. I could go on and on and on… but then the holidays would be over and we’d be bringing out the Valentine’s Day candy. So, for now… take a deep breath, start thinking pumpkin pie and ice cream and sleep well…. it’s gonna get busy!