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Flash sales fulfillment best practices

Flash sales sites are growing to become more and more important for brands seeking broad market exposure. There are a lot common things to consider whether you sell on Gilt, Fab, Groupon, Clymb or any one of the hundreds of global flash sales sites.

Shipwire has successfully shipped for brands on Fab, Gilt, Groupon and numerous international flash sales sites. Selling across these new marketplaces and delivering a top brand experience to buyers is absolutely key, so Shipwire provides the tools you need for doing this successfully.

In this step-by-step guide, you will find best practices and answers to many questions about selling on a flash sale marketplace.


Flash sales tour:


Confirm flash sales marketplace requirements

Each flash sale marketplace has its own requirements; here are some questions to ensure you know what they are so that Shipwire can help you succeed:

  • Wholesale or dropship? Are you sending the marketplace a bulk order so that the marketplace can ship (wholesale or bulk order shipment), or are they sending you an order file and requiring you to do the shipping yourself (i.e. drop shipping)? Shipwire can help with both, but this support guide covers the flash sales drop ship scenario.
  • Domestic or international shipping? If your shipments are crossing any national borders, you will need to confirm whether the marketplace will be providing commercial invoices with each international order or whether Shipwire will need to generate customs documentation.
  • Order file format and timing? Most marketplaces will provide you with an Excel compatible .CSV file for your orders after the sale closes. Confirm the format and the timing for the file.
  • Order processing time requirements? Your agreement with the flash sales site will detail the marketplace order processing time expectations. Ensure you are familiar with this.
  • Shipping account & fees? Confirm if the marketplace will be giving you shipping labels (printing on marketplace account), asking you to print labels on their shipping accounts or if Shipwire accounts will work for the marketplace. We highly recommend you pay special attention to whether the marketplace is covering the shipping costs or if the supplier/shipper is paying for carrier shipping.
  • Shipping carrier and service level selection Find out if the marketplace has requirements for the carrier you use or the shipping service level. They may prefer to work with a specific carrier and may require you to use a service level that complies with their delivery standards.
  • Packing list customization? Understand what each customer-facing packing slip needs to include with respect to marketplace branding.
  • Returns processing? Many marketplaces have an order returns processing facility and require all orders to list the return location. Confirm if returns should go to the marketplace or to Shipwire.
  • Tracking information communication? Most marketplaces require the shipper to inform the marketplace of the carrier tracking numbers for each order. The less common alternative is a marketplace that expects the shipper to communicate with the buyer.

In summary, you want to have a very clear understanding of what the marketplace expects from you to ship orders, communicate tracking information and whether orders will have options for carrier shipping service levels. This is the best way to have a successful sale and get invited back by the marketplace.


What Shipwire features support flash sales marketplaces

Shipwire has an ever-expanding toolkit to help you successfully sell on flash marketplaces.

Wholesale and international

  • 7 warehouses in 4 countries means you can participate in flash sales globally
  • Wholesale bulk shipping is available if the marketplace will be shipping products
  • Every Shipwire warehouse can ship domestic or international orders

Flash sales shipment customization

  • Shipwire can support most flash sales .csv and spreadsheet uploads
  • Shipwire can ship on a flash sales site’s 3rd party shipping account.
  • Support for naming the flash sales company as the ship from company
  • Work Orders for custom processing of batches of orders.
  • Configure customer e-mails for your flash sales to notify buyers.
  • Download tracking numbers for all orders to provide to flash sales marketplace
  • Customize return location per order
  • Processing your orders as a batch
  • Custom inserts and packaging is also an option


Before the flash sale starts

Contact the Shipwire team to confirm the following:

  • Anticipated order volume. We appreciate all notice of large order volume so we can do team planning and make sure that no orders are delayed.
  • Work order setup. If you require specific packing list customizations in batch, we often process these as Work Orders to streamline them for you.
  • Marketplace compliance. We want to make sure all orders comply with the flash sale marketplaces specific requirements for you.


What to do after the sale happens

Typically you will want to have custom packing slips and processing on each order. To accomplish that Shipwire needs a list of the orders, which must be associated with the custom documentation. If you don’t need any custom documentation or processing on these orders, just upload them individually. There are two ways to accomplish that – batch or individual:

Batch: It is recommended that you create a Work Order at least 24 hours ahead of your order file being received to notify Shipwire that you will be completing a flash sales work order.

  • Start Work Order called “X Flash Sales Site Order”.
  • Under preferences in the Ship menu, change your order submission to warehouse preference from the default to a few hours.  This will give you time to batch upload and put orders on hold.
  • Upload your order file(s) to Shipwire using the spreadsheet upload tool. It is recommended that you prepend each order with the flash sales site name for clarity (FAB, GILT, GG), for example a Gilt order number would be: GILT-12345
  • Put all orders that require customization on hold.
  • If you are sending order confirmations to buyers, make sure your order confirmation e-mails match your expectations. If not, disable order confirmation for those orders.
  • Edit your Work Order to inform Shipwire of the orders and upload all custom documentation for our team to process.

Here is an example of a Work Order description:

Title: GILT / 3rd Party Special Order Modification Work Order

Description: Please place custom packing slips into each order between these order numbers: GILT1234 – GILT1400.

Print all slips in black and white.

Email me and I can attach packing slip PDFs in a single attachment in reply.

Please start this Work Order immediately and complete in x days. (Note: Shipwire has a standard 2-5 day service level agreement (SLA) on all work orders, but we can rush a work order for an additional charge).


Individual order upload and customization

  • Upload order CSV from spreadsheet
  • Immediately put order on hold
  • Edit individual order with 3rd party shipping account information and custom packing list information

Upcoming product changes

Shipwire will be making changes that will allow for large flash sale order batches to be processed without the need for associated work orders. The process will work as follows:


  1. Define a 3rd party billing account – This will be the account number provided by the flash sale marketplace. This account number will be referenceable by a unique short-code (or ID)
  2. Provide Shipwire with sufficient details – This is so we can replicate the packing list requirements of the flash sale site. This packing list template will be referenceable by a unique short-code (or ID).

Flash sale processing:

  1. Upload orders – Merchant will upload a CSV of their orders. This CSV will include the desired 3rd party account, and custom packing list (referenced by short-codes specified above). Once the orders are in the Shipwire system, Shipwire will generate the correct shipping labels and packing lists.

Until this process is publicly available in the software we are using a work order to batch process this as described above.

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