Peak season is in full swing. Is your business hitting its stride or just hanging in there?

This year, two-thirds of consumers (63%) plan to shop in person, while half of those in-store customers will also do some of their holiday shopping online. In general, reports are showing that customers are eager to get back into stores where they can see and feel items before purchasing, while others are trying to avoid shipping fees and potential delays. 

But another point of interest is that 35% of shoppers overall plan to use buy online, pickup in store as a fulfillment option. This rises significantly among urban shoppers (43%) and millennials (50%), and all of it contributes to an expected $210 billion in e-commerce sales this holiday season. 

Whether your shoppers are walking through the door, filling their digital carts or sending back an unneeded purchase (as some 18% are expected to do), you’ll want to use our peak season checklist to make sure you deliver a five-star experience. 

Check your back-of-house necessities

Before customers start asking, “Do you have more in the back?” give your storage space a good once-over so you have a handle on your inventory and storage capacity. 

  • Clear out unnecessary clutter, empty boxes and items you may have put off properly shelving.
  • Label warehouse shelves clearly so team members can efficiently locate and restock items.
  • Ensure loading docks have clear, correct signage and remain clear of debris.
  • Communicate with your stores and warehouses so each node in your network is ready to receive regular shipments, on-demand inventory repositioning deliveries and incoming returns from crowdsourced drivers.

Evaluate your picking and packing process

Your picking and packing process can make or break your ability to get orders out the door in time. Pay attention to the following tasks:

  • If you haven’t already, create a standard operating procedure (SOP) for how employees should handle picking, checking, approving and fulfilling orders for pickup. Post these easy-to-follow steps prominently in areas where team members can reference them.
  • Stock fulfillment stations with plenty of packing, shipping and labeling materials.
  • Clearly mark order pickup areas for smooth handoffs to delivery drivers.

Conduct a retail floor refresh

Heavier traffic during the holiday season requires doubling down on your usual opening and closing to-dos. Stay on top of these peak-season tasks to keep your retail space inviting and easy to shop: 

  • Post your holiday operating hours clearly at all entrances.
  • Increase restroom and fitting room cleaning frequency to keep spaces fresh for guests.
  • Clean wet and slushy footprints from flooring near entrances for cleanliness and safety. Use wet floor signs as needed.

Get teams up to speed on training

Refresh staff training in order to address customers’ most common questions, whether your teams connect with customers in person, over the phone or via webchat. 

  1. Be sure to update team members on out-of-stock items before every shift change. Keep a list of these updates at your customer service desk, including possible restock dates.
  2. Quiz team members on their knowledge of policies and procedures. Make sure they’re clear on: 
    1. How to address customers over the phone and in person.
    2. Your store hours, including special departments and extended holiday hours.
    3. How to fulfill a hold request.
    4. Your return policy and how to process returns.

Check-in on your website experience 

Shop your own website to make sure it’s running as expected on desktops, smartphones and tablets. Also be sure you:

  1. Reach out to your hosting service to ensure your website can handle a holiday traffic surge. To prepare, take a look at last year’s online sales data for an idea of what to expect.
  2. Confirm that links, product information and add-to-cart buttons work as expected.
  3. Clearly post your return policy throughout your website and online communications, and make sure it’s up to date. Two-thirds of customers will want to see this before they buy.
  4. Update your shipping information to reflect all available fulfillment options, including:
    1. Overnight, two-day or standard shipping windows and pricing
    2. Buy online, deliver from store (BODFS)
    3. Buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS)
  5. Properly time confirmation emails and texts, and display the correct order and fulfillment information, which includes how customers can contact you with questions, order issues or returns.

Crowdsourcing can lighten the load

The easiest way to keep your store operating at its best for peak season is to lean on trusted partners for assistance. That’s especially true for final mile delivery.

Roadie is ready to help you deliver an excellent customer experience from start to finish. From flexible shipping options that meet shoppers’ needs and customer-friendly returns fulfillment to on-demand inventory repositioning between facilities, crowdsourcing can help you wrap up the holiday season in a nice, neat bow.

Staying optimized all season long is part of a successful holiday surge. Check out our 7-step guide for winning peak season and delighting customers with ultrafast crowdsourced delivery.

Your roadmap to peak season success: 7 steps for delighting customers when demand spikes