E-Commerce Business Tips For Christmas 2021
Increased consumer demand, shipping delays and material shortages, as a result of the pandemic and Brexit, have all put extra pressure on retailers at what is already a stressful time of year. So, if you’re an e-commerce business and you’re not sure what to expect this Christmas, keep on reading for some top tips on how to prepare for another unpredictable festive season!
The cost of storage per square foot has risen significantly over the last eighteen months due to high demand and companies competing for limited space. Flexi-Hex sleeves are incredibly compact in their natural state which enables companies to store the maximum amount of product at a much lower cost. In fact, one pallet of our classic sleeves is equivalent to five pallets of bubble wrap in volume. Translating that into costs, we can save companies up to 80% in storage fees, as well as reduced shipping fees. Savings achieved on storage and shipping can be redirected to profit, transforming effective supply chain logistics into a vehicle for business growth.
Our top tip for e-commerce businesses:
- Don’t waste expensive storage space on air! In the UK companies are paying roughly £10 per sq ft for storage, so if you need 1000 sq ft to store 120 pallets of bubble wrap, this will cost you £10,000. By switching to Flexi-Hex, you could reduce this to just £2000.
Inventory & forecasting
Poor forecasting could lead to excessive levels of stock, tying up unnecessary capital, whilst inadequate stock levels could hamper your business productivity.
Our top tips:
- Check your inventory levels early
- Prepare for high level of sales as much as you can – you don’t want to be caught shorthanded
- Keep in mind key dates that will be big sales periods such as Cyber Monday and Black Friday
- Review previous year’s sales data to gain insights into highest and lowest selling products and make sure this year’s inventory corresponds to those seasonal trends
- Communicate with suppliers about their inventory levels, stock movement and demand trends.
It’s likely you’ve experienced delays in delivery over the past twelve months, whether you work in e-commerce or you’re a consumer shopping online. There are many reasons for these longer shipping times including driver shortages, increased consumer demand, as well as stock being held at congested ports and terminals. At Flexi-Hex, we're proud to say that deliveries can be expected within one week of purchase, or three to four weeks for bespoke branded products.
Our top tips:
- Order stock and materials as early as possible to avoid unforeseen delays
- Accommodate for higher shipping costs
- Double check delivery information is accurate
- Be clear to customers on shipping timelines and deadlines
- Consider spreading your stock amongst different 3PLs in case one limits their services.
When selecting a single-source solution, you need confidence in their performance. As Dimension Data warns, "the supply chain, as the name suggests, is only as strong as its weakest link.” According to the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply, a key consideration when choosing a supplier is “which company will perform best in times of crisis”. The rationale is that “logistics is so susceptible to outside influences such as adverse weather conditions, global pandemics, labour shortages, shipping challenges”. You want to avoid having to make costly contingency arrangements or incurring losses associated with disruption to your business.
Our top tips:
- Talk to your suppliers (or us!) – once you’ve planned your production, let your suppliers know about increased demands, production timelines, sales forecasts and shipping requirements as early as possible. Most will operate a Just-In-Time (JIT) model so good planning and strong coordination will mean they’re prepped for what you need.
- Work with suppliers that can give you visibility of inventory levels, stock movement and demand trends that will help control your cost base. Does your supplier share inventory levels online?
- If you decide to appoint a single supplier, consider how resilient its network is. At Flexi-Hex we work with a number of trusted, market-leading distributors, who are all stocking up to help us through the busy festive season. Our key partners can help you consolidate with sustainable, quality product and ensure it arrives in great condition and a timely manner.
- At Flexi-Hex we make great protective products, but we know we aren't a one-stop shop for all packaging requirements. Our distribution partners can help with additional packing materials such as sustainable papers and eco-friendly tapes.
Companies across all industries are facing stock issues as a result of Brexit and COVID-19. In the packaging world, there has been a lot of talk around the growing concern of cardboard shortages across the UK, and customers struggling to purchase their packaging in time for Christmas. When shops were forced to close, many retailers had to move their sales online which led to an unexpected increase of boxes and packaging materials being required for home deliveries. Not only that, but recycling centres were also closed from March to May, which meant that many people disposed of packaging in their normal waste instead of recycling. Given that 84% of Europe’s cardboard is made from recycled fibers, this has caused a huge problem for cardboard manufacturers.
Our top tips:
- Order materials as early as possible to accommodate import delays at EU borders
- Buy as much as you can afford to!
- Educate consumers on the importance of recycling their packaging at home.
To reassure our loyal customer base and prospective customers, we are 100% ready to support you on another plastic-free Christmas! We are managing stock levels well and we have plenty of sleeves and boxes to see us through the festive season. So if you have damage rates of 1% or more, please contact us to learn how to drive those down even further.
Written by our Head of Sales, Steve Trethowan.