We’re now well into the end-of-year selling season and the lead up to Christmas. Business is probably bubbling along nicely but whether this is your first holiday season, or you’re a ‘seasoned’ professional, we all know that crazy times are just around the corner. Some people may say it’s just another selling season but it’s not really, it’s the biggest of the year and you should be developing a Christmas specific strategy covering all aspects of your business.
Hopefully you’ve actioned some of our tips for preparing your business for the Holiday Season and you’re stocked up and staffed up ready to go. Now your real focus is on fulfilment and shipping – getting those orders out the door. The big thing to remember is that you need to take control – set realistic expectations for your customers and manage their experience.
To give you a little head start, we sat down with shipping expert Apurva Chiranewala – VP Strategy and Partnerships at Sendle to gain some insider tips on winning the holiday season race. Here are his top 5 tips for Christmas shipping and the holiday season:
1. Plan for Mishaps
You’ve probably created some contingency plans within your own business but you also need to look externally. Trucks break down and technology goes on the blink so get your business set up with another shipping carrier so that your orders will still go out, even if your primary courier goes down. You might even need to factor in weather delays if you’re holiday shipping to the Northern Hemisphere.
2. Pre-Pack Your Top Sellers
This is a great use of time in the lead up to holiday season and an even better time saver once you’re busy. Have all your best sellers ready to be shipped out and your logistics team will thank you. And these same items can also be used as ‘Ready to Ship Last Minute’ gifts as it gets closer to Christmas deadlines. Perfect for those customers who have left their run late so remember to promote it on your website and via email.
3. Invest in the Right Hardware
Apurva recommends buying quality label printers, weighing scales and even tape dispensers so that your team can work efficiently. Where possible, you should also look at automation and more importantly, a Pick and Pack app that allows your staff to scan the barcode, check against the order and print a label ready for shipping.
4. Communication is Key
From shipping policies to cut off dates, ensure your customers, and potential customers know all the delivery information they need to make an informed purchase. Be as clear and blunt as possible with banners on your home page, details in your product descriptions, and a dedicated Christmas shipping page or blog article on your website. Also include an expected delivery date in order confirmations and if possible, allow your customer to track their order online.
The other area of your business that’s worth highlighting to customers is your return, refund and exchange policies. At this time of year, we recommend being a little more flexible and to set a policy that’s specific to the Christmas period.
5. Offer More than One Option
All customers are different so it makes sense to offer different shipping options from standard to express or two day guaranteed delivery. Without options, you could potentially miss out on some sales.
And don’t forget the importance of free shipping. Our own State of Ecommerce Report found that free delivery is the second most important criteria in purchase decision-making. You could even consider limited free shipping for orders over a certain amount.
| Related Reading: How much should I charge for shipping?
While we had Apurva, we thought we’d also take the opportunity to ask about the increased expectations of consumers around delivery timelines. In his view, buyers are now rather spoilt for choice because of increased competition and reduced delivery timelines. As a result customers have higher expectations and are increasingly impatient. 5-7 days delivery time in metro cities and 14 days to rural regions are now a thing of the past. Many leading couriers now guarantee faster delivery for no extra cost so it’s worthwhile for merchants to shop around. Sendle have even launched a 2 Day Delivery Guarantee for faster deliveries at no additional charge.
And as for international shipping, Apurva believes that there’s never been a better time to sell overseas, especially with the low Aussie dollar. However, international shipping has always been a major hurdle for merchants with concerns around:
- High shipping costs and complicated pricing
- Customs duties and taxes
- Prohibited goods based on the buyer location
- Long shipping times and tracking
- Complicated declaration forms and paperwork
- Complicated insurance & returns
- Unreachable carrier support
Many shipping companies are determined to make it easier for online retailers including Sendle who have introduced an international service with flat-rate pricing, clear SLAs and simple declarations.
Keeping Shipping Costs Down
With competition at its peak, now’s the time to shop around for better shipping rates. It even pays to work with multiple couriers to get the very best rate on each type of shipping that your business requires. And don’t just compare prices; look at insurance, guarantees and flat rate options. Sendle not only guarantees their pick up day, they also guarantee that their price on average is 15% cheaper than standard parcel post.
Over to You
If you’re pushed for time and just want a great, easy option to kick off your ecommerce Christmas shipping, we’ve partnered with Sendle to offer a completely integrated option. In fact, you can be up and running with just a few clicks.
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