Ship Like Santa: Your Guide to 2020 Holiday Shipping and Delivery
Make your list and check it twice, because it’s been a record breaking year for online sales. So this holiday season should be record breaking for your online store’s sales too.
With the hit to in-store shopping this year, chances are you’re going to have a bunch of new customers on your site. It’s really important that those customers have a great experience on your site if you want them to come back.
Let’s be real, Amazon has set the bar, and they’ve set it pretty high. Shipping and delivery has never been as seamless as it is today thanks to their site infrastructure and distribution. Customers will consider anything that falls short of that bar as a bad experience. So let’s hop into how you can achieve shipping, delivery, and pick-up success this holiday season.
Shipments and delivery from your end
Okay we might have overpromised in the title. You probably won’t be able to ship gifts like Santa this year, but you can damn well come close. Getting orders out on time is more important during the holiday season than the rest of the year because that big tree in a lot of people’s living rooms has a hard deadline. So let’s take a look at some things you can do ahead of time to prepare for holiday shipping and delivery:
- Know your couriers’ deadlines: Unless you have a magic sleigh, these dates are extremely important. If your courier doesn’t have their deadlines on their website, make sure you get on the phone with them to solve this problem. Also, make sure you put these deadlines in your calendar. You’ll have a million things going on this holiday season so counting on memory alone for these deadlines won’t cut it.
- Stock up on shipping supplies: Running out of supplies to ship your product is what holiday nightmares are made of. Expect to sell more this year than any other, which also means buy more shipping supplies than you have in the past. You’re better off with too much and saving it for next year than not enough and running out this year.
- Set up your international shipping: You never want to limit your customers to your country’s borders. As the world becomes increasingly globalized so do our shopping behaviours. This is extra revenue you can’t afford to miss. Take a look at FedEx’s guide to international shipping, their information is true of most couriers.
- Map out your entire process: Literally map it out and figure out how long it takes you to process one order. It may seem painfully obvious, but trust us, it will help you with time management. A rough skeleton of what your process map may look like is: Open order ? Get all ordered items in one place ? Organize items by delivery area and method ? Package items ? Print shipping labels ? Attach shipping label.
These strategies will help with the shipping process from your perspective. Just as important however, is how to make your customers experience equally seamless and stress free from their perspective.
Shipments and delivery from your customer’s end
Every time you package up your product and send it away you have to think of the person opening it on the other end. This is a continuation of the customer experience, even once they’ve left your site. So now that you know how to achieve success on your end, let’s look at some of the ways to give your customers the best experience possible.
- Use free shipping. Everyone else worth competing with is already using it. Free shipping doesn’t have to cost you, just factor it into the price of your product. After all, 90% of shoppers say free shipping is their number 1 incentive to shopping online.
- Consider the unboxing experience. The excitement of opening a gift sometimes rivals the gift itself. Tap into this excitement when you package your products. Making them personal with a handwritten note and your customer’s name takes a couple of minutes and makes them feel that much more special. At the very least you can have the notes printed and hand-sign them.
- Prepare for returns. 67% of online shoppers will check your return policy before making a purchase. Make sure you are clearly communicating your policy with your customers so they aren’t met with any unexpected fees. If your margins allow for it consider covering all of, or some of, the shipping fees. This will make returning customers more likely. If your margins can’t handle that extra cost, don’t sweat it, just make sure that your customers know this before they purchase.
- Set up order tracking. People are impatient when their expectations haven’t been managed. Having package tracking lets people follow their delivery every step of the way.
- Set up a FAQ about delivery. Regardless of how much you prepare for the holiday rush, there will be customers who still reach out for questions. Try to anticipate the questions ahead of time and have a FAQ available so customers can answer questions themselves. Some of their questions may be:
- What is your return policy?
- How much is shipping?
- How long will delivery take?
- Can I get expedited shipping?
- Do I have to be home to sign for my package?
These are all necessary keys to shipping and delivery success for the holidays, but none of this information is really new. What is new due to the pandemic however, is the absolute need for curbside pickup if you’re operating a store.
This is a new reality that all store owners need to prepare for. All the big-box stores started doing curbside pickup pretty much when the pandemic started, so it’s important that you’re able to do it as well in order to compete. It’s pretty simple, here’s what you need to know:
- Set up times. Dedicate a portion of your day to fulfilling curbside pickup. Not everyone has the same availability, so consider having a time just after open and a second time near close.
- Become familiar with the process. Just like you’ve become super familiar with the shipping and delivery process, you need to do the same for curbside pickup. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to get the hang of:
- Customer completes order online
- The customer selects a curbside pickup time slot
- The payment is placed online
- Merchant receives customer’s order
- Customer drives up and parks at designated time
- Merchant places order in customer’s car
- Voila, you’re done!
Remember, you and everyone else having the busiest shopping season means couriers are going to have a hard time managing it all. Start being proactive today to ensure success when the orders start rolling in. That means getting aligned with your couriers and their deadlines.
Feel free to download our Holiday Merchant Guide that’s full of great tips.