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How small businesses keep up with holiday orders

Tim Fitzsimons Nov 21, 2014
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Analysts predict that this year’s holiday shopping season will be robust, especially for online retail. Internet retail sales are projected to grow 16 percent over last year. But a surge of holiday sales can present logistical problems and catch a small business off guard.

“If you’re wrong about the type of volume you have, and you really need to meet the volume quickly, like around the holidays, it is very, very expensive,” said Lisa Ellram, a professor of supply chain management at Miami University.

For Brian Berger, he found that attempting to do order fulfillment for his and his wife’s tote bag business was not what he expected. “It was a complete nightmare,” he explained, “both from the standpoint of the time but also from a customer experience standpoint.”

These days, Berger is CEO of Mack Weldon, an online menswear retailer, and his company uses a fulfillment center called Quiet Logistics to complete online orders. At fulfillment centers, people (or robots) roam a gigantic warehouse, grabbing products and getting them packaged and sent out. They also deal with returns.

“Outsourcing it to a professional, people who are constantly thinking about this every day, day in and day out, to me is a no brainer,” Berger said. 

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