Early Summer is Critical Time for Ensuring Successful e-Commerce Holiday Season

Happy Holidays ornamentHappy Holidays from Distribution Direct! What, you say, it’s only June 6th? D-Day, in fact! Yes, you are right, we should be honoring all those who put their lives on the line for our freedom at Normandy Beach 70 years ago today. Their courage and sacrifice are remembered and honored today within our family and we hope yours as well.

So why is Distribution Direct pulling out the holiday decorations today of all days? Well, look at the calendar a little closer and you will see that Christmas is just 200 days away. In terms of retail planning, 200 days is a short window of opportunity for a season that can encompass a major part of any retailers’ annual sales.

You can bet that the big box stores, Target, Walmart, Amazon and the like have already initiated their plans for ordering merchandise for the busy fall and Christmas shopping seasons. So as a logistics partner for many small and medium sized retailers and e-commerce firms, we want to make sure you don’t fall behind and end up with a less-than-satisfactory holiday season.

First, take one more look at that calendar; it reveals an important fact for all retailers about this year’s holiday season. Have you noticed that Thanksgiving falls late this year on November 27th, meaning Black Friday is just 27 days apart from Christmas, and Cyber Monday, a mere 24 days. This fact should be integral in devising your holiday marketing and sales efforts so that you can make the most of the pre-Thanksgiving and post-Thanksgiving shopping periods.

Of course, you need product on hand for all those shoppers and summer is the peak season for bringing in products for the fall and Christmas shopping seasons. To make sure you are as ready as Target, we want to make sure you’ve thought through these factors:

  • Shipping and port considerations: In case you haven’t heard, West Coast ports are bracing for a possible labor strike right as the peak shipping season gets under way. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union contract with the Pacific Maritime Association expires on June 30th and to date talks between the two have not yielded an agreement. We’ll address this in more detail next week, including an up-to-date report on the status of these talks, but barring any major breakthrough, retailers and e-tailers who have the option of bringing goods in via East Coast ports should seriously consider taking advantage of that. Labor disruptions such as these have historically plagued West Coast ports while East Coast ports have been relatively spared.
  • Selecting the right products for this season: You want to make sure that you pick the products that are going to sell, and that you order the right quantity of them. There is nothing worse than advertising a best seller and not being able to deliver it because you’re out of stock with no way of getting any more. Or the reverse, selecting a non seller and ending up with excess inventory in January. We’ll discuss strategies for avoiding both traps in the coming weeks.
  • Managing Suppliers and Selecting Partners: In today’s interconnected world, you are not in this alone. You need and depend on others throughout the supply chain. We’ll tackle strategies for making the most of these partnerships and limiting the risks involved.

So stay tuned. If you haven’t already put an action plan in place for the 2014 holiday season, then our upcoming posts will serve you well. And if you do have an action plan in place, it is always good to do one final double check to ensure that you’ve thought of everything before the warehouses are all full, the ports are jammed, and it’s too late to get your products on the shelves for shoppers to gobble up.