CHAPTER 5: Provide creative and agile fulfillment options

Prepare your fulfillment channels so customers get (and give) their gifts on time.

What will fulfillment look like during the 2021 holiday season? From engaging alternative delivery providers to starting the shopping season early to avoid shipment cut-offs, here’s how to prepare your fulfillment channels and manage shopper expectations.

Collaborate with traditional fulfillment partners

The sudden and massive shift to digital commerce in 2020 is here to stay, and 2021 will have a higher baseline for online demand. To avoid the fulfillment and capacity issues that plagued 2020, start your holiday season earlier. Incentivize early buying with special promotions and work with third-party logistics partners to plan ahead for shipping cutoffs.

Like in 2020, major players will make forward buys for the holiday season with last-mile carriers such as DoorDash and Instacart. Lean into tactics like buy online, pick up in store and curbside pick-up, and retrain associates to be holiday delivery heroes

Strategize fulfillment tactics

In 2021, the store will play an even more important role in fulfillment. If you haven't set up a pickup program, the Quick Start for Curbside and Store Pickup provides convenient and safe online ordering, inventory visibility, and simple tools to maximize associate productivity during the fulfillment process.

Create a clear communication plan so shoppers know where and how to retrieve their orders. Provide details on your program before checkout. When orders are ready, send a notification through channels such as email, SMS, or push notifications. Include detailed instructions on identification needed, store details, and directions. Be sure to offer customer support should a shopper have a question.

Manage supply and demand

Many retailers are moving to scale in preparation for this holiday season. Consider adding subscription purchasing models, which increase sales and make fulfillment more predictable. Fulfill orders with modern order management capabilities, which connect back-end systems with prebuilt apps to integrate ERPs, CRM, and point-of-sale (POS) systems to access order data. You can visually manage workflows and maximize the supply chain with inventory APIs that give a real-time view of your inventory. Orders are processed quickly with automated fulfillment, payment capture, and invoice creation.
Learn how a retail CRM can help you delight shoppers with personalized omni-channel experiences.

Give clear direction when customer pickup is an option

When it’s time for shoppers to retrieve their orders, communicate instructions clearly on their preferred channels. Give clear instructions with the type of identification needed (e.g., license plate number for curbside), store details, directions with a link to maps, and support channels should shoppers have questions.

You can also leverage localization capabilities to support multiple currencies and languages. Plus, prioritize fulfillment across selling channels (including the store, marketplaces, and social channels), customize business logic, and add apps for payment, store, and more.

Err on the side of over-communication, especially when it comes to out-of-stock products. Inventory visibility is critical to ensure accurate product availability and order status. When it comes to delivery, staff-up on extra drivers for last-mile fulfillment. The best holiday gift this year is the one that arrives on time.

Your next steps for holiday 2021 retail planning

Retailers need to be prepared for a holiday shopping season like we’ve never seen before. Navigate this year’s peak retail shopping season with the tips and tactics that help you deliver excellent customer experiences – both in-person and digital.

Pay close attention to what shoppers want, monitor the performance of your digital channels, and meet customer needs no matter where, how, or when they shop.


Prepare for the future of retail

Plan ahead to prepare fulfillment channels and manage shopper expectations.
See how to:
  • Deliver personalized and consistent omni-channel experiences
  • Grow your digital sales and service presence
  • Enable safe, contactless shopping experiences

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