Home Professionalisms Preparing Shipping, Warehousing, and Your Team for Holidays 2016

Preparing Shipping, Warehousing, and Your Team for Holidays 2016


by Brandon Levey, CEO of Stitch Labs


The holidays provide a mixed bag of responsibilities. With increased stock quantities, hyperactive shoppers and a surge of fulfillment needs, it can be tough to manage all the moving parts of your business.

In this article, we’ll help simplify your operations and create a better rhythm of productivity.

Tracking your orders.

How many times have you had to check and re-check inventory stock quantities? And exactly how confident are you in the information you’ve documented? When you manually track inventory and rely on multiple systems, you’re risking missed sales opportunities and your sanity! In this section, we’ll walk through how you can setup your inventory operations to be successful.

No one is complaining about the increased transactions during the holidays, but if you’re not tracking the orders properly – it can be one big headache. Using a central order system that tracks the flow of inventory being picked, packed and shipped will make this a lot easier. You’ll be able to turn around orders quickly, keep sales moving, and improve the customer experience overall.

What to look for in an order management system:

  • Low Stock Alerts

  • Order Status Reports

  • Central Purchase Orders

  • Easy Restocking

  • Order Analytics

  • Publish New Listings

Warehouse Management

Whether you’re currently managing multiple warehouses or have plans to expand during the holiday season, it’s important to find the best process to fulfill customer orders across all your locations. Creating a central warehouse inventory tracking system that helps you deal with transfer orders, overflow inventory and more will help your team ship items more efficiently.

Who wants to sit around re-routing their inventory all day? Here are four ways an inventory and multichannel selling solution can help retailers optimize their warehouse management:

1. Automatic overflow system. All of your inventory tracking can sit in the platform, so the system can anticipate when you’re running low. If an order comes in and you need a backup warehouse to pull from, some platforms reroute the order to a secondary warehouse automatically.

2. Transfer orders. Want to shift stock to a different warehouse? You can access transfer order feature and move them where you wish. Your platform should also keep a record of any activity that occurs.

3. Amazon FBA. Taking advantage of Amazon’s FBA services? Awesome! Some inventory platforms directly integrate with Amazon’s solution so you can assign a warehouse to keep track of your FBA specific inventory.

4. Drop shipping. Don’t let fulfillment of stock hold you back when expanding your product line. Drop shipping is great option for those looking to grow inventory but are short on up-front cash or space to hold the products.

What you need to know about Amazon FBA

Fulfilling during the holidays – what a mess, right? Selling and tracking orders is a piece of cake with the tools you have in place. But picking, packing, and shipping goods out to your customers is not so simple. If you’re exploring the idea of implementing a third-party fulfillment solution to ease the pains, Amazon’s Fulfillment by Amazon services can be very helpful. Here are some basic things you need to know before diving in:

The benefits of using Amazon FBA:

  • Access to tens of millions of Prime customers

  • Eligible for Amazon Prime Free Two-Day Shipping and FREE Shipping

  • Amazon handles all customer service issues as well as returns

  • Ability to fulfill orders from other non-Amazon channels

  • Extra space for more inventory in-house

  • More mental space and energy for you and your team!

How Amazon FBA works:

  • Send Amazon your inventory.

  • Amazon will receive and store your products with their ready-to-ship inventory.

  • Once the items have been received, your products will be eligible for Amazon Prime Free Two-Day Shipping, FREE Shipping and more. (Woohoo!)

  1. An order is placed and FBA will pick, pack and ship products directly to the customer.

  1. If your customer has issues, they can contact Amazon directly, which takes a huge burden off your plate!

  1. If a customer needs to return an item, Amazon also handles that! (Return processing fees may apply)

Get your team ready.

Be it two or twenty, your team is at the heart of your operations. They need to be aligned and energized during the holiday rush in order to keep things afloat. How do you accomplish this in an organized fashion, while still staying on top of your inventory? We have a few ways to make this a breeze.

Use this checklist to make sure you’re keeping your team aligned, motivated and happy!

  • Encourage the team to come up with new solutions to existing problems.

  • Find out what drives your individual employees and come up with ways to empower them.

  • Implement a central communication tool like Slack to make information sharing easy.

  • Set clear expectations about scheduling

  • Check in to see how they’re doing. You’re not the only one who will be stressed!

Will you need extra hands during the holidays? Here are three things that will help you make the most of every new seasonal hire:

1. Look for the right people, and do it early. Hire employees with the right traits, such as a flexibility and fast learners. Starting the process early will allow you to get the pick of the litter and bring people on your team that fit with your culture and expectations.

2. Don’t skimp out on training. It can be easy to get wrapped up in everything you need to get done and avoid training new employees. Take the time to invest in training. The more they are educated up front with context, the better they’ll help you throughout the season.

3. Manage as usual. Just because they are seasonal hires, doesn’t mean they don’t have opportunity to help you later down the road. Manage all your employees with great attention and leadership. Encourage them to take on greater responsibility and be an advocate for their success.

Brandon Levey

CEO of Stitch Labs Brandon Levey holds a BSE and MSE in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan. While working on domestic nuclear security systems analyses at Sandia National Securities, he started two retail businesses on the side. Through his experiences in the design and manufacturing world, he identified many problems faced by small businesses, leading to the eventual launch of Stitch Labs.