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The end-of-year holidays aren’t top of mind yet for many consumers. However, if you’re an ecommerce business owner, you’re most likely already planning for this important time of the year.

Last year, those in the ecommerce industry prepped for an unprecedented year as people stayed home and opted to shop online. Americans set a record for online shopping during the holiday season — online sales exceeded $1 billion — and ecommerce stores began promotions as early as October. At the same time, the shipping and supply chain industry strained to keep up with the increase in demand.

This year, what can the ecommerce industry expect in terms of the 2021 holiday season?

One thing’s for sure — ecommerce can expect to stay strong this year. In early 2021, consumers started spending more, driven by increased vaccination rates, stimulus checks and a reopening of the economy. Through this time period, ecommerce sales continued to grow, even as brick and mortar stores opened back up.

As the ecommerce holiday quickly approaches, let’s make sure to stay on top of another projected busy season.

Here are our suggested ecommerce holiday planning timelines.

First Week of September

Inventory Planning

One of the largest issues many companies experienced last year was centered on inventory. 47% of online shoppers experienced both out-of-stocks and shipping delays. This year, supply chain delays have continued to affect both consumers and retailers, with a shortage of truck drivers creating a bottleneck in transportation and delivery.

Take this time to plan your inventory and packaging needs thoroughly. Determine what packaging you'll be needing for your products and which packaging supplier you'll want to choose. Stay ahead of shipping and transportation delays by ordering your packaging early and in bulk. You’ll not only stay in stock and cut down on stress, but volume discounts apply when you shop in bulk, helping you save money overall and making sure you’re getting the best price for your business.

Third Week of September

Inventory check-in and packaging reordering

Having the proper packaging is vital during the ecommerce holiday season. You’ll want to ensure you have enough packaging to ship your orders to your customers both on time and securely. Take this time to check in on your packaging levels.

If you’re planning to begin promotions in October, take this week in September to also check up on your inventory. If you need to restock, put a plan in place this week.

Mid October

Final promotions check-in

Use this period to finalize what you’ll be offering as far as promotions during the ecommerce holiday months. You can always run a last minute promotion if you feel it’s necessary, but having a plan ensures your entire team knows what to expect, and gives you time to plan accordingly on how to execute those promotions.

End of October

Preparing warehouse, operations, supply chain and shipping

Now's your time to prep your warehouse and operations team. Let them know what holiday demand you're expecting, what new products you'll be adding, and if there are any packaging changes they need to be aware of.

Also let your team know what shipments to expect from the packaging or inventory orders you've placed to prep for the season.

Early November

Understand carrier delays, deadlines and surcharges

Once November arrives, ecommerce shopping is in full swing for the season. There may be last minute packaging ordering and promotions to run, but large business decisions and strategy sessions are in the past as stores ensure holiday orders get processed and shipped.

During the months of November and December, ecommerce businesses can begin to plan for the upcoming calendar year. At the end of the calendar year, shipping carriers typically announce the upcoming rate changes and increases for the new year. Take this time to prepare for the shipping rate increases. Watch for news from your favorite ecommerce newsletters and sources, and begin to prep your store to accommodate the coming rate increases.

The upcoming holiday season is shaping up to be another ecommerce-focused season where consumers turn to online outlets in addition to brick and mortar stores. And just as the shipping and supply chain industries are expecting high demand, your store can as well. If you’re looking to start your custom packaging journey or stock up early, we can help. Start here.

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