I would love to have your problem !
sorry, cannot help (yet)
I'm curious about your Black Friday bottom line; both financially and personally. Your revenue was 10x more this year, but what about profit after taxes, and your sanity, versus last year?
We had a 50% off sale compared to a 25% off sale last year.
In my opinion, it is not about the profit made on Black Friday, but more about brand awareness.
I'm more concerned with being able to have a sale like that and can scale our productivity and meet the demand and still ship out products in a timely manner.
This is a good read:
Still would like to hear the results, after the dust settles and the bills are paid.
How do you distinguish a 50%-off sale from your competitors, who are racing to the bottom? There is always someone who can price their stuff lower than you.
I'm aware of many brand-awareness and return-customer claims. I'm just asking if it's worth the personal sacrifice of 80-hour weeks after Black Friday to sell stuff near cost. How loyal will your customers be, once you raise your prices back to normal?
Where are your bottlenecks? How do you produce shipping labels etc? Automation at each stage would be the key.
Although a 10x increase would catch anyone out because physically stuffing widgets in packages is likely always going to be a manual process for most people.
I guess if you have some sort of "average order" of a single popular item you could do some packing in advance when you are not quite so rushed!
But how many orders do you process in a normal day? I'd imagine you've experienced huge non-promotional growth in that year as well.
My estimate right now is $45K to $50K after the dust settles.
I guess we will find out in the months to come!
I think our bottlenecks are trained people that know the products and can pull orders and ship them. We need to increase the number of trained people to pull and ship orders.
We use endicia label server api with our in house development application.
Put the package on the scale, the application reads the weight from the scale, scan the bar code on the pick ticket, click the print button and out comes the label.
We do have some products that are purchased by themselves a lot that we could get boxed up and ready to go, but for Black Friday they were buying all kinds of stuff. Most orders had more than one product.
We do around 50 - 75 order per day normally.
We've had promos in the past where we saw 10x increase in orders, we planned ahead though. We expected it, stocked up on packing materials, premade up boxes, brought in extra staff for grunt work (taping boxes, loading skids, loading trailer)
Not expecting a huge increase and getting it, not much you can do other than bust ass and crank them out!
we will plan better for next year.
when you have promos like that, what is your policy on allowing customers to make changes to orders after they were placed?
we had a huge spike in customers want to make changes after they were placed. I guess they were in some panic frenzy or something.
Honestly, we had to tell them we were unable to change the order or cancel. Orders were being pulled and packed so quickly it was next to impossible to track them down.
If they wanted to cancel, we did a RTS with Fedex and had the local hub bring it back to us.
Ok, thats what we were doing too. we would tell them that we could only cancel the order and couldnt make changes because of the high volume.
@ssgumby can I send you a private message? I think i have more questions and would just like to learn more about your process.
Sounds like you pretty much have the automation down so not so much you can do there. I'm assuming you have pretty good scanning processes for the picking / packing too?
We do the same - once the order is "shipped" as far as the system is concerned that is the point of no return - the process of weighing/scanning/allocating carrier fires the customer an email with their tracking info and at that point they are past the point of being able to change or cancel - once that parcel goes into a cage there is no way we are fishing it back out.
@jrockfl sure shoot me a pm
Are there any bigger companies that do a lot of pick-n-pack in your area? I've found that employees from these types of places tend to be great hires...if you call around to temp agencies and see who has worked for a particular company (in my area it was Honda), you might have some luck. Lots of these places go with temp agencies when they have an influx of work and need staff immediately - that way, your hires are already familiar with the hustle and bustle of high-volume pick-n-pack.
Another option is incorporate metrics into your pick-n-pack process (say THAT three times fast...) I've seen companies that have barcode/binning systems and pick carts with laptops. The laptop tells them what row to go into, what bin the item is in (so has to be integrated with the inventory and bin-assignment system). If you have a huge warehouse/inventory, then it'll be a good idea to make sure the scanning software sends them on the most efficient route. The scanning will give a different sound if the correct/incorrect item is scanned, and once it is correctly scanned and picked, it will tell the picker to go to the next item and where that item is located. The employees had goals they couldn't fall below - eg, X amount of items scanned per hour, get spiffs/incentives if they go above Y items per hour, etc.
Not sure if your pickers also do the packing, but if you're doing enough volume, you'd probably want to split it up. When the packers scan the package/barcodes to close-out/weigh the package, they will have goals to hit as well.