If you are a parcel shipping or e-commerce fulfillment service provider, you are already executing your plans for managing the busy holiday-shipping-season. This year, the parcel carriers and 3PL fulfillment service providers must also plan for product supply disruptions due to the current supply chain crisis.
While the parcel carriers tend to get all the attention with respect to their holiday plans and volume restrictions, the e-commerce order fulfillment 3PLs must also execute plans for managing increased merchant volume. The measures already taken or currently being established, are necessary to manage the enormous challenge and include:
- Establish product flow and volume estimates from the merchants.
- Limit taking on new customers based on planned-for additional volume.
- Advise merchants of potentially limited product intake, if necessary, based on carrier volume restrictions.
- Establish stringent communication guidelines with merchant customers to prevent receiving unexpected volume and implement communication rules to drive early merchant notification of potential problems.
- Establish product volume caps with the merchants early on in the planning process.
- Meet with all carrier service providers well in advance of the holiday shipping season and establish potential volume restrictions, if any, that may be imposed by the parcel carriers.
- Establish rules and guidelines for facility management to cut off order processing to support carrier scheduled pick-up time.
- Be prepared to pass on holiday shipping surcharges to merchant clients and advise merchants in advance of such a rate increase.
- Have IT staff on standby, whether internal or vendor-based, to quickly address tech problems that shut down product processing.
- Advise staff in advance of additional hours requirements.
- Secure access to additional temporary staff if required to process higher than anticipated volume.
- Closely follow carrier service levels and advise merchant clients of delayed delivery patterns.
- Be prepared to support early carrier pick-up times driven by inclement weather.
- Ensuring that sufficient warehouse handling equipment is on hand and warehouse supplies such as shipping boxes are stocked up for holiday volume.
The parcel carriers and 3PL fulfillment service providers must work together if they are to collectively offer the best service possible in support of their e-commerce customers, during this busiest time of year.