Dashing through the snow
In a one-horse open sleigh
Oér the fields we go
Laughing all the way…
While we're not quite there yet, if you want your holiday season to be merry, you might want to start thinking about your shipping strategy for this holiday season now.
According to Deloitte, holiday retail sales this year should amount to $1.152 trillion during the November to January time frame. Some retailers could do a third or more of their annual sales in just a few days. While it can be difficult to anticipate and prepare for every shipping and fulfilment problem, what follows are ten common eCommerce shipping mistakes your business should avoid.
1. Not communicating carrier cutoffs
The vast majority of holiday sales have a shipping deadline. Orders need to arrive on or before a certain time, typically December 24. And your customers expect orders to arrive by this deadline (sometimes even when ordering a week before).
If you don't communicate this to your customers, you're bound to have some problems and possibly some lose orders. For example, CouriersPlease have a cut-off date of 21 December for deliveries within Sydney by the 23 December, this year.
2. Using only one carrier
Nearly every eCommerce brand has the option of shipping with multiple carriers, but most only work with one postal carrier for simplicity. Working with one postal carrier limits the shipping and delivery options you can offer to your customers. This is a major deal breaker for many consumers. In fact, 66% of consumers have chosen one retailer over another simply because of their lack of delivery options. This issue becomes even more prevalent during the holiday period, when variety can be the difference between a package arriving on Christmas or missing it completely.
Interparcel offers e-retailers, a multi-carrier solution in a single dashboard, without all the fees and subscriptions of other courier sites. You don't need to sign up to receive a quote, simply visit our website, enter in your package details and destination and you will instantly receive a list of couriers, collection times and competitive prices to choose from. With the largest selection of courier partners in Australia, you can offer your customers true variety when they shop.
3. Waiting too long to ship orders
Have you ever ordered something, and find yourself checking the tracking page several times only to see that it hasn't moved at all? The length of time that a customer has to wait for their shipping to arrive can feel like an eternity. That's why it's important for e-retailers to offer expedited shipping. "Same-Day Shipping" and "Next-Day Shipping" is a great way to incentivise customers to shop with you. Using a fulfilment system like Interparcel to sync and fulfil orders within a click of a button can be helpful to manage your order volume.
4. Waiting to order supplies
No one likes to shop for an item, add it to their cart and it's out-of-stock or back-ordered. Before the holidays start, you need to start thinking of your merchandising approach and make sure you're fully stocked on the popular items. The holiday rush is busy for everyone. This includes suppliers as well. Make sure you have all your supplies you need before mid-November so that you have enough for your holiday orders.
5. Checkout process and website problems
As an e-retailer you're probably used to checking the traffic to your website regularly. Surges in traffic are good, if you're prepared. But if not, they can shut down your website and cause issues with your customers. There's no doubt that the holiday period will result in a surge of traffic. Make sure that your web host allows you to scale up your website quickly if you need to.
6. Confusing returns policy
72% of consumers factor in a company's return policy into the final purchasing decision. With the increased pressure of holiday cutoffs and possibility of holiday gift return or exchange, returns are even more important. Make sure your returns policy is easy to find and located at multiple touchpoints on your website. No-hassle returns are important and it speaks volume to the trustability of your brand.
7. Not using marketing tools to build buzz
Make sure you're promoting your holiday sales ahead of time, using email marketing and social media channels including Facebook and Instagram. Start posting ahead of schedule, at least a month away from the date. If you don't advertise your holiday sales, you're going to fall behind other retailers who do.
8. Not creating a dedicated holiday landing page
How can shoppers take advantage of your sales or products if they can't find them. You can create a dedicated holiday landing page and use it to advertise on Google Adwords or Facebook in order to bring more traffic into your site. Combine this with free shipping and deals for a greater click through rate. Make use of long-tail keywords that are cost-effective which will allow you to stretch your budget.
9. Failing to use free shipping promotions
It's one of the most cited statistics in eCommerce is that the number one reason shoppers abandon their carts is due to unexpected costs. If you don't provide free shipping under any circumstances, you're potentially missing out on increased order volumes and a higher average order value. Consider offering free shipping on all orders over a certain amount, or on first-time orders. You can also use this as an advertising mechanism during the holidays.
10. Spoiling the christmas surprise
One of the biggest mistakes eCommerce sites make around the holidays is shipping items that are branded with their logo stamped boxes and a visible receipt. Where possible, try and swap out the branded packaging for plain brown boxes, or at least provide the option for your customers. This way, their gift won't be spoiled until the receiver opens the actual package.
Since gift wrapping isn't everyone's favourite task, you can also provide a free gift wrapping service. Try using subtly branded ribbon to wrap their gift for some great brand recognition around Christmas.
11. Not validating delivery addresses
An incorrect postal code can not only throw off your shipping efforts and expenditure, but can land a package in a state of limbo. Now, if we're talking about a present for Christmas, having a parcel arrive late takes on a whole new meaning.
To avoid the issue, you can automatically verify delivery addresses using our Shipping Manager. Once you connect your store to our Manager, you can sync all your orders with one click. The system will automatically alert you to any issues with addresses so you can fix the issue before fulfilling the order.