Internet Retailer predicts U.S. shoppers will spend $119.99 billion online during the 2018 holiday shopping season. This is a dramatic 15.5 percent increase over last year. Consumer confidence is at its highest point in 18 years, meaning spending is up. This is all great news for e-commerce merchants!
Of course higher sales lead to more shipments. That's why a streamlined shipping process is critical. Follow these tips for stress-free holiday shipping, more profits, and happy customers.
Save Money on Shipping
Shipping costs can make or break your profitability. Take these steps to save money on shipping:
- Use the most cost-effective shipping carriers for each shipment. You may need to use a combination of carriers.
- Offer free shipping with order minimums, or on products with higher margins.
- Verify addresses to prevent resending of shipments.
- Package any breakable items carefully to reduce returns or customer complaints.
- Save time (and time is money) by requesting pickups from shipping carriers.
Create a Plan for Weather Delays
Weather delays are inevitable during the holidays. We’ve already seen huge climate hurdles this year due to wildfires, snow storms, hurricanes and more. Thankfully, with a little thinking ahead, you can avoid most package delays. First, add extra time to your expected shipping delivery date. If there is a weather delay, the padded time provides a buffer, giving you more time to make things work. If the delay is long, consider a token of goodwill. This could be a discount or free product. Mother Nature is not your fault, but small gestures show your customers you care.
Watch the weather each day. Fortunately, the USPS and FedEx both post regular updates about shipping delays. You can also use filters in your shipping software to sort orders by their destination. Process orders with longer transit times first, and still try to get them to customers on time.
Heed Shipping Deadlines and Communicate Them Clearly
Post your shipping deadlines prominently on your website so customers understand delivery expectations. Use this shipping deadlines infographic to determine your holiday cutoff dates. Pad delivery cutoffs with sufficient time to pack orders and manage weather delays.
Send Shipments Quickly
Speedy delivery of online purchases is very important to most buyers. Given buyers’ expectations of efficient shipping, are you optimized for shipping speed? Here’s how to do it:
- Buy plenty of shipping supplies. Slowing shipments because you ran out of labels or tape means lost revenue.
- Make sure your physical shipping stations are organized for efficiency.
- Ship orders the same day when possible.
- Pack a surplus of frequently-ordered items ahead of the holiday crush.
Provide Shipment Tracking
When a customer purchases a gift, he or she wants to make sure that the item gets to its destination. That’s where tracking comes in. In a recent survey, 88% of consumers say the ability to track shipments in real-time is important.
Tracking should include items ordered and a link to see real-time shipping details. You can also include additional helpful information, such as your return policy, social media links, contact information, website links and more. Tracking is easy to do with shipping software. Learn about ShipStation’s branded shipment tracking options, here.
Make Your Holiday Season Better
Shipping matters. It’s the connecting point between your great product and loyal customers. Use the most cost-effective shipping methods, anticipate weather delays, and organize your physical shipping stations for speed. Communicate deadlines to customers clearly, get packages out the door quickly, and provide easy tracking. If you get shipping and delivery right, your 2018 holiday customers will become lifetime customers. Isn’t that what every retailer wants?