The holidays can throw just about any online retailer into panic. When it comes to shipping on holiday season, there’s no bigger challenge for eCommerce businesses. And with the
#1. Get Organized Ahead of Time
Prepare for the holiday fever a month or weeks before. Make sure you have plenty of packaging tapes, inks, thermal printer label rolls, and other important shipping materials. If you’re a small company, you may even consider hiring seasonal employees to get work done fast during this time.
Try to anticipate problems by looking what worked on the past year and what didn’t. Analyze the problems you’ve encountered and what you could have done to prevent them.
#2. Find the Best Couriers and Multiple Shipping Options
You’re not very prepared if you haven’t done this one. Your shipping partner has a great impact on your customer’s overall experience, so make sure you’re choosing the right company. Get ready for peak shipping this holidays by tapping multiple couriers and shipping options. When it comes to specific deliveries, you have to know the best courier that will get the job done in time.
If you’re relying only on one shipping services, you’re making it very risky for your business. Imagine if the company suddenly reaches its full capacity and decides to let your packages go. You won’t have another option set in motion for back-up.
#3. Post-Shipping Deadlines
Give everyone a clear picture. We want those gifts to be sent before Dec.25. Sometimes customers have to be reminded not to procrastinate. According to studies, about 20% of shoppers today wait until the last two weeks before Christmas to start shopping gifts.
This can be nerve-wracking if all orders pile up during these dates. And if sent later, you could risk disappointing a customer whose gift might arrive a week after Christmas.
The solution? Post shipping deadlines on your site. Make sure that your customers are aware of domestic and international shipping deadlines. Post deadlines on your website so that customers won’t be caught off guard if their item doesn’t arrive in time. You can also use UPS Calculate Time and Cost Tool to give your customers more information about their shipping costs.
#4. Optimize Your Website
Don’t forget to optimize your website. The holiday season comes with an increase in web traffic. You don’t want consumers to abandon carts because your website isn’t performing well. Weeks before the holiday season test your site especially your inventory management and shopping cart. Fix all bugs so there won’t be any time-consuming emergencies when the holiday comes.
Make sure that your website is running the latest version of the software to prevent glitches. A troubleshoot before the holiday season can identify potential problems and solve it before the peak seasons start.
As much as possible, choose a website builder that has good support even on busy holiday seasons. I recommend Shopify if you’re a starting e-commerce owner. Shopify has it all when it comes to setup, customizing, and customer support. You can read this AWA post for more details of Shopify platform.
#5. Offer Free Shipping
As much as possible, offer free shipping for most of your products. Customers today raise eyebrows when they see a 5$ price for shipping but will gladly pay for an originally 30$ item turned 35$ but with free shipping.
Good shipping options are the most effective conversion tools in e-commerce. Just the sound of free or discounted shipping appeal like gold to buyers and before you know it, they’d be scrambling to get the best deal out in your site. Plan your shipping costs wisely, and make sure that everything arrives before Christmas Day.
#6. Track Shipping
People are twice impatient when it’s the holiday season. During this time, no one wants their packages delivered late. Many e-commerce stores today give their customers the option to track their packages from source to final destination. This can be done by providing tracking numbers to customers as soon as the merchandise is packed and ready for shipping. If there are weather restriction delays, the site is also responsible for informing the consumers.
With this option, the customer-support team won’t be barraged by questions from customers asking when and where their package will arrive.
#7. Don’t Ship Air, Pack Wisely
It’s very important to make sure your products are packaged properly especially if they’re traveling from one continent to the other. You’ll be surprised how many e-commerce businesses still don’t know how to optimize their packaging.
Some people have accepted small key-sized items packed in shoe-box big packages. If you know how to pack properly, you can save a lot of shipping charges. Cost-effective packaging always is a win-win for you and your customer.
Pack everything tight and make sure that the goods are safe in boxes. Nothing can ruin the holiday season than a damaged package. Make use of bubble wraps and Styrofoam packing peanuts. Also, don’t be a Grinch and spoil the festivity, keep your design as holiday-themed as possible.
#8. Leverage Technology Wisely
It’s 2016 people. Learn how to use technology to make work faster and easier. In this business, speed is the key to saving money and keeping everyone happy. The faster you can get the orders out for delivery, the more you get efficient in shipping.
But it’s not just shipping that matters, how you communicate with customers about their deliveries is also very important. If you’re shipping high volumes of products, you can consider having your orders fulfilled by a fulfillment provider or a 3PL (third-party logistics).
Or you can use third-party software to execute tasks independently. For example, if you’re shipping internationally you can use a program which will make it easier to create alerts for certain items that are banned in foreign countries like Spain, China, or Russia.
Happy customers always spell out to success in business. And with the holiday season just around the corner, it doesn’t hurt to stay prepared months or weeks before.
Image: key for shipping options