There are lots of reasons why sales at eBags.com continued to grow at a rapid rate after a record-breaking Thanksgiving weekend, when the web-only handbag retailer’s sales surged 76% on Black Friday and 54% on the following Monday compared to the same days last year. Sales since then have continued to rise year over year at better than a 20% clip, and eBags expects overall holiday season sales to grow by more than 34%, says Peter Cobb, co-founder and senior vice president. Rising consumer confidence and good product selection are two obvious reasons, but there are also important things going on behind the scenes that have nothing to do with fashion or economics. And they involve maintaining a high level of customer service while working out the details of making sure online orders and fulfillment pick-pack-and-ship operations are in synch.
Unlike in years past, when orders to the retailer’s 500 drop shippers were batched and forwarded maybe once a day, Cobb and a staff of logistics experts have ensured that shippers of highly popular items were prepared to receive multiple batches of orders per day—and at times that suited the suppliers’ warehouse work schedules and the arrival of delivery trucks. And eBags took it a step further, working with key suppliers to let them know which particular items—Kenneth Cole wallets featured in a special gift promotion, for example—were likely to generate strong sales and warrant special placement in bins nearest the packing line to ensure they’d get packed and onto trucks as quickly as possible. That not only ensures that orders get out the door fast, but it can save on shipping costs because some orders will be able to get to their destinations within a promised time via ground shipping instead of more costly expedited shipping. Sound planning like this has also led to a minuscule number of times that customers have to place something on back-order, while giving eBags a reputation as a retailer that knows how to deliver.