Monday, 15 September 2014

Fulfilment and E-Commerce Holiday Seasonal Advice


Image showcasing how businesses can be stressed due the influx of demands over the holiday season.






Businesses must consider some of the obvious tasks to prepare for the e-commerce and high volume Christmas period. To reduce stress and prevent a panic situation, due to surprises from an influx of sales volumes, at this festive time of year. Here are twelve guidelines for 2014.

Image of a postit note with Helpful tips written on it.

1. Ask.


Yes it is that simple. Just ASK your team for their views, and of course LISTEN. Get them to talk openly and feel with confidence, that their views no matter how trivial they may feel they are, are indeed heard and debated. Highlight any area that can be improved or done away with. If they use the 'R' word they are telling you that somewhere, something wasn't pre-planned properly and there is room for improvement. Listen for that word! Then act or you'll hear "I told you so" later on.

2. Review Historic Reports.


Hopefully your businesses computer or manual systems can tell you what took place in terms of throughput during the preceding year(s). By carefully analysing this against a time line, staff levels, premises space, sales seasonality of clients, and various other factors one can predict, based on planned business growth, what infrastructure is required throughout 2014 to help avoid the 'R' word.

3. Staffing levels.


Temporary staff, good temporary staff are hard to find. Find out exactly when you advertised for additional staff for the peaks of activity. Work backwards from when they became proficient in their tasks to the time you first sought them, to allow sufficient time to advertise for them. Allow for interviewing, ensuring that the person responsible for appointing new staff hasn't booked a holiday just when you need them for interviewing, selection and appointing. Allow for new candidates notice periods and such, not forgetting all the essential training and integration time required. On the job training can be a risk sometimes, it means new staff are experimenting 'live' with your valued client's projects. Have some 'blind' samples to explain and train with. Review where you spent funds advertising and move accounts and media to suit.

4. Training.


Yes you may know how to do it, and indeed the person next to you may well know too, just how to do it, but a new recruit or someone hoping to rise up the ranks may well not. We always look internally first to further train or promote. It makes sense, they know you and you know them. A new member must be trained alongside the all-important, never ever to be overlooked, lost or misplaced or not kept up to date, individual client operations processing manual. More on that later. Training is essential and immediate afterwards, dedicated monitoring is equally as important so you can judge that if in deed when they said "yes I understand" they did indeed understand. Needless to say you only release them onto a client account once they have ticked all your boxes and that vague look has disappeared!

5. Packaging requirements.


It's no good having items to send and nothing to put them in. Bespoke cardboard boxes can take an irreverent amount of time to design, order, check, tool for and produce. There is no such thing as a standard box, so allow more than enough time to have specialised packaging ready for your client's needs. Pre order pre made packaging so your supplier does not let you down if they get a rush order. Yes I know I used the 'R' word but it's the suppliers who may get a rush on! And, those hand held tape machines, hopefully they are knackered, totally knackered from all the hard work from the previous year, so order new ones. Good tools do a good job in the right hands, so give your team the tools they need. That way you can only blame them if they under perform, and then re-train to ensure their performance only improves!

6. External Support services.


Yes, you know who I mean, those that handle your output, the couriers and postal services. Undertake at least six monthly reviews of your outgoing support services, check out their ethos, is it speed or service or cost or a combination of all three? Let them know when you expect seasonal increases and ask them if they can lay on additional collections and what period of notice they require. Confirm your discussions in a follow up letter so they have no excuse not to know.

7. Internal support services.


No I don't mean the tea lady... oh gosh do they still exist or did they die off when black and white film became colour? I mean building maintenance people, additional IT engineers, your photocopier people, any support on your trading estate to maintain access should an additional leaf fall unexpectedly, site security. All these and more can have an impact on your business and cause the 'R' word to raise its ugly head, through no fault of your own. Well it will be your fault if you bury your head in the sand.

8. Stock.


Get to know your clients business, do they import, do they manufacture, do they rely on seasonal raw materials, do they have multiple suppliers to make one finished product. Get interested in them and their business. It may just raise a few questions as to what you should be asking to ensure they get stock to you in plenty of time for you to do your job in a timely manner and never have the need to use the 'R' word!

9. A Planner Chart... ' to infinity and beyond!'... Now where have I heard that!?


If you have a scheduling diary that shows one day to a view, bin it! If you have a planning dairy that shows one week to a view, bin it! If you have a dairy that shows a month to a view you're getting there... get my drift? You need to see are far as your horizon goes. Only that way can you say with certainty if you can one hundred per cent fulfil your clients' needs. Remember I MUST GET ORGANISED.

10. Dates.


These are fixed moments in time, no really I mean it! The 2nd of March is the same date in everyone's diary, unless you sit on the International date line, and if you do you need to check which side you're on... right now! A date is a date is a date. They will come and they will go. It's whether or not you are aware and prepared and everyone around you is informed to expect Valentine's day to fall exactly on the 14th of February each and every year. A date is a date is a date, if only to repeat myself. A courier's last collection date is that date, not a day before and certainly not a date after. For those of you who believe in the parallel universe theory you're let off this one or you may just understand what you are about to read.

11. Law, you know the fella!..Murphy's!.


What will go worng... will.

Get my point, wrong/worng? Look, really look for what may go wrong in a process, this process is of course detailed in the all-important, never ever to be overlooked, lost or misplaced or not kept up to date, individual client operations processing manual.

12. Write it down.


For every client that comes on board we spend a considerable amount of time gaining a clear understanding of their business, they're on-going requirements, where they'd like to be a year or more hence, and the in-depth process that they require us to perform. From this and more we create the all-important, never ever to be overlooked, lost or misplaced or not kept up to date, individual client operations processing manual. Therefore should it snow in August and some staff can't attend, others can follow the all-important, never ever to be overlooked, lost or misplaced or not kept up to date, individual client operations processing manual.



Image of a santa pointing at an hour glass with statements Don't Wait, time is running out.



Get in touch NOW... now is after yesterday and before tomorrow, that way we’ll both be ready with a truly professional and cost effective fulfilment service to meet the rush!

Here at JEM, we know and understand you’re close to your business. You could say you’re up a ladder hanging a picture (your business) and we’re down here saying ‘left a bit, right a bit’. No matter if you’re a start-up or fully established, or what time of year you choose to join us we’re ready. At JEM we pay the same care and attention to helping you achieve your objectives. Call now... we want to listen.

by Erik Miller
JEM Marketing & Fulfilment Services Ltd.
The Invisible Link- Between Your Business and its Customers
www.j-e-m.com
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