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Huge shipping backlog because of Christmas

How to tell the customers, slow down orders, "warn" people?



1:15 am on Dec 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

While this might sound like we are actually lucky guys (yes, we are!), we have a huge problem. We just get too many orders for what we can process. We are already working on full pace, overtime, part-timers, till late night. We have just too many orders to be able to catch up and ship them out quickly.

Now the customer support who does the email has a huge backlog, the billing department has a huge backlog, the shipping department has a huge backlog, and everyone seems to have an endless pile of work.

All on the cost of the customers, while we usually do everything we can to give great customer support and customer experience.

We already started to use some canned emails and auto responders telling the people about delays in getting back to them. However, this is not enough and as stupid as it might sound, we would need a break and virtually disable our web site for a few days in order not to receive new purchases. But this is not a valid option.

Does anyone have experience with this sort of things (huge processing delays), what is the best way to officially deal with this, to announce it or to get it all sorted out. Obviously the best would simply be to let the customers know, to slow down the complaints and 'where's my stuff' emails.

The targets would be to clearly tell the customers, cut down on complaints and dissatisfaction, but without scaring people away too much.

We are a small company, and this years Christmas has really hit us hard because of some new (low profit) product range we started to carry last summer, without considering the huge workload at Christmas.


1:26 am on Dec 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Raise Prices. That generally works for us.


1:35 am on Dec 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

This is impossible unfortunately (too many products) and would only result in more work ("why did you change the price?"). We have a high traffic web site and unique products.


2:12 am on Dec 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I ran into this last year with a client.

Drop any ppc ads.

Put your lowest returning products "temporary out of stock".

Cut off the time you can deliever by xmas by a few days. Increase these if you fall further behind.
Give yourself some breathing space if only in your mind.

Have food delivered in.
Have coffee delivered in.

Create and send some discount certificates for those orders that go out a little late.

Don't bring anyone in to help that will slow you down.


7:06 am on Dec 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

More time that we could afford during our busy season was getting eaten up by special processing and dealing with those customers who insist on a higher level of customer service. When we're getting overwhelmed, we started weeding out the more difficult to deal with customers and special order requests.

We put a note up on our order pages about not always being able to accept all order requests due to overwhelming demand. We send out an email like the following to those we can't fit in.

We are sorry, but we do not have the resources to accept this order. This circumstance is noted on our order page and, as mentioned there, we have a list of fellow crafters and shops compiled for such situations.

Recommended resources for the type of items you ordered are located at...

We only started this during the last Halloween rush and did get hit with complaints, rudeness and even personal insults by some of those customers. However, I felt better about that after realizing that the very reason we were rejecting those orders before any others was because those customers were exactly that type of customer in the first place.


8:38 am on Dec 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member sem4u is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

minnapple has some good ideas especially about dropping PPC ads and moving the cut off date for Christmas orders forward.


10:44 am on Dec 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

We do "normal" and "express" shipping and have dropped the express shipping option for now in order to streamline dispatch as the express orders take too many resources - is helping speed overall dispatch and doesn't seem to have hurt order levels.


10:49 am on Dec 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Have separate delivery charges instead of raising prices. Keep one as your normal delivery (with a note - delivery after Christmas is likely) and your express delivery try to guarantee before Christmas (put the price up on the express delivery to make it worthwhile - double it, triple it, whatever you need to keep the orders down - and those that choose to pay by this method will bring you more income so you can possibly employ some temporary staff - maybe family or friends who can work some evenings a week - although get someone experienced to quickly check everything that they do - mistakes are expensive if someone needs something by a particular date!).


1:52 pm on Dec 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Our prices are stored in a database, so we can change the price on all our products in less than 5 minutes.
When things get back to normal, we lower prices again.

If you raise prices, you will cut down on the number of orders, but increase your profit per order.

Dropping any PPC advertising will also work, if you are using that.


9:55 pm on Dec 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member essex_boy is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

This happened to me last year, im a one man band, boy I was from 6 am to 1am 7 days aweek. Did that for 3 weeks, nearly killedme.

The best way I found was to plan my day 3 hours on emails - that came in faster than i could respond, 4 on packing etc etc.

I only slowed orders down when I took ppc offline and increased my price, having relatives in to help didnt really cos I had to show them what to do etc etc

Sounds like madness but hell I was glad.


7:54 am on Dec 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

If your problem is ONLY due to Christmas rush, then quite the best solution (as already posted) is to move your holiday delivery cut off forward, if possible, or state that you are no longer shipping for holiday delivery (if necessary).

make it obvious throughout the website. If you stop accepting holiday orders, even including an "I saw this information" checkbox will help tremendously.

I wouldn't change pricing because some people aren't just looking ONLY for holidays and would think you are too expensive.

Same with shipping prices.


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