Ship & Sip Holiday Hustle & Bustle Roundtable Recap
Have you ever wanted to get insights on how entrepreneurs took an idea and turned it into a successful business while utilizing ShipStation? Twice a quarter event series, Ship and Sip allows you to do just that.
Hi! My name is Erin and in addition to being the Manager of the ShipStation Community, I also have the honor of hosting Ship & Sip. We had our first Holiday focused Ship & Sip for the year on September 15th and I’m here to break down all the holiday planning insights from our guests. We were joined by Kim Wren, the Senior Director of Business Development at SkuVault, Amber Friedeck, the cofounder of Republic Promos, and Missy Haese, National Sales Account Manager at Republic Promos.
Holiday Tips and Tricks
Before our amazing panel discussion, we provided a quick presentation covering tips and tricks to be better prepared for peak season. Here are some of the key points we discussed.
- Take the time to plan and reorganize your warehouse to ensure optimum efficiency. Remember that it has to make sense for your workers first and foremost.
- Have all of your equipment ready and accessible, including packing material but also items to make sure your staff are taken care of during this busy season.
- Start early and get all of your prep work out of the way ahead of time so your staff has everything they need to help you win during this peak season.
- Be cognizant of all of the steps in the shipping process up to the point of handing things off to the carrier and even beyond.
- Know your shipping deadlines.
When to start planning for peak season
When asked about when you should start your holiday season, the group almost unanimously agreed that July is a good time to start planning but ideally your peak season should be top of mind year-round.
“We start prepping in July or sooner and I know that sounds crazy. Everybody says Christmas in July, that is not a joke, like you need to be way ahead of the game and sometimes it’s kind of hard to get people to be prepared that early.”Amy Friedeck
Panelist Kim Wren, added “ I would take this a step further and say that if you are a newer business, if you have only been in this a couple of years, you should have started planning after peak season last year.” She also went on to say that if you are just starting your preparations now you are a little behind the curve and now is the time to kick it into high gear.
Make sure that you are giving yourself and yourself enough time to prep and potentially hire staff, set up automation workflows, your warehouse setup, and be able to test your setup.
Advice from our Panelists
Make sure you have enough space and help
When discussing learnings from past years, Missy brought up a time when Republic Promos had limited warehouse space and this led to them hiring less help because of the small space. She found that this led to projects going out slower and getting delays on getting shipments out.
Automation is key and even worth the cost of implementing solutions
All of our panelists agreed that automation is crucial for success not only just during peak seasons but year round. Kim took this a step further by affirming that paying for automated systems might seem steep but they are worth the investment.
Make sure you are talking to your carriers about discounts and assistance
Did you know that many carriers provide account managers and offer discounts for high-volume shippers? If you don’t have a point of contact for your carrier, now is the time to reach out and see if that is something that is available to you especially if you have been shipping high volume either during peak or year-round.
If you are a smaller business or have a lower volume, ShipStation actually offers a wallet with multiple carriers that offer discounted shipping rates called ShipStation Carrier Services.
Shipping estimates during peak seasons are not always guaranteed
Service estimates on shipping methods are just that, they are estimates unless you have guaranteed service for the shipment. During peak shipping seasons, this is even more true because of the higher volume and potential delays. For example, Amber mentioned that their carrier rep advised them to use expedited shipping instead of ground during the holiday season since transit times cannot be guaranteed, and this method offers better support especially if you do not currently have the benefit of a carrier account representative.
How Erin Sees it
Communication is key
During this season there are a lot of things we cannot control, but as a business there is always one thing you have the ability to do: wow your customers with a great experience. This doesn’t mean that everything works perfectly and that there aren’t any errors, but it does mean upping your transparency and communication with your customers. Communicate often and early especially when there are unexpected complications.
Learn from failures instead of fearing them
Mistakes may happen and that is okay, it is all about how we recover from them. Being afraid to fail and not taking chances is more dangerous than taking a chance and it not working out. Failures are an important part of growing and finding what will work for you and your business. Treat each mistake as a learning experience and don’t beat yourself up if it happens.
Don’t be afraid to seek out help or information
There are plenty of resources out there for you to take advantage of and there are plenty of people who want to share their experiences. Take the time to seek out these resources and absorb the information. We mentioned that the ShipStation Blog has amazing resources but most of your other solutions should too, take the time to see what advice they are sharing whether it is in blog, event, or webinar form, it is worth your time.
Thanks again to our amazing panelists and this month’s sponsors SkuVault and BrightPearl . If you want to check out the full recording you can check that out on the ShipStation community by using the link below!
We can’t wait to see everyone again on Nov 3, 2022 for our next Ship and Sip event.