If you haven’t done your planning for 2022 already, now is the time! This is especially true when it comes to ordering and fulfillment.
Sure, the trend these days is for companies to be “agile” and “nimble,” ready to pivot at a moment’s notice with any change in the market. Still, shipping and fulfillment is an area where a little planning will save a lot of headache, no matter how nimble your operation is.
Having been in the business for decades, we’ve noticed that, even when many things change rapidly, there are some constants that can be planned for. So no matter what unexpected things 2022 throws at us, you can’t go wrong if you take the following into account:
#1 Get that Post-mortem Going.
If you have not done so already, gather all the information you can from last year, especially the busy holiday season. And do it while the data is at hand, and the experience is fresh in everyone’s memories. A thorough post-mortem, for the season and for the year, will enable you to make adjustments before the new year is in full swing.
We’ve covered holiday and year-end post-mortems before in greater detail, but to review, you should be looking at:
- Inventory: What moved, what didn’t, and what needs cleaning up.
- Packaging: Was there enough on hand?
- Address and order accuracy: What needs updating?
- Fulfillment speed and customer experience: Did you meet SLAs? Did you communicate expectations?
- Shipping and fulfillment partners: Who got the job done, and who needs to be replaced?
#2 Use That Information to Plan Ahead.
The temptation not to plan is strong when you think that circumstances are “up in the air,” but experience teaches us that the opposite is what works: Planning empowers us to meet challenges head-on and frees up time that can be used to handle changing circumstances.
For example, ask yourself: Do you have plans in place for the following? Or have you had to scramble when any of these happened?
- Weather holds
- Holiday spikes in ordering
- Pivoting to digital marketing/online ordering
- Capacity issues/delays
- Market/demographic changes
- Legal/licensing changes
#3 Accept It: Online Ordering is Here to Stay.
So many businesses have been forced to adopt online sales channels and virtual support processes just to survive. Even as the restrictions present during the pandemic lighten up, those new online channels aren’t going anywhere. In fact, they’re now table stakes for any business that wants more than just local reach.
Our advice? Lean into it. The majority of Americans have become comfortable ordering just about anything online. Use this year to streamline your online ordering experience, rethink your shipping deals, and up your game when it comes to digital marketing.
#4 Stuff (Ahem) Happens. Have Your Messages Ready to Go.
Emergencies happen. They can be as sweeping as natural disasters, or as small and simple as a piece of broken machinery. When they happen, delays in orders are inevitable. However, knowing that emergencies (and hence delays) can and will occur means that we can plan for them, too.
One of the most important things you can do is pre-formulate some messaging around emergencies. For example, how will you inform your club members and online buyers that there has been a delay in shipments? What options will you present to them? How will you update your partners and vendors? Thinking through these messages can save a lot of time and stress later on.
#5 Have Fun.
Making wine and the experiences around it, can (and should be!) fun. The point of planning ahead is not to create stress, but to relieve stress so that you can remember why you got into this industry in the first place.
If your year has been stressful, especially when it comes to getting your wine in the hands of DTC customers, contact us and we can discuss some plans together