Retailers of all sizes are experiencing the phenomena known as "Christmas creep," as the holiday shopping season begins earlier each year. Advertisers and marketers have likely made their holiday plans for not only the 2017 season — but for 2018 as well. With Black Friday only nine weeks away, it’s not yet time to panic, but it is time to get ready for the deluge of holiday shipping just around the corner. While the "creep" may have some retailers stressed, here are seven proven shipping strategies that can help you conquer the season ahead:
1. Increase the number of shipping options.
Remaining competitive means giving customers the control they want. Whether you charge for shipping, set cart thresholds or offer free shipping, being upfront with customers from the get-go minimizes cart abandonment and, therefore, increases your bottom line. A recent study revealed that providing increased shipping options at checkout increased sales for 86 percent of retailers, while 75 percent saw a reduction in cart abandonment.
2. Use advanced date shopping.
Save money and deliver great experiences with advanced date shopping. By using each carrier’s own special conditions, such as extended pickup times or extra trailers, you can get more orders out the door in a single day, and at a lower cost.
3. Communicate throughout the entire shipping process.
Ninety-seven percent of customers want to track orders and receive communication throughout the entire shipping process. Retailers that employ a tracking interface can provide real-time visibility into package status and delivery updates, and can send notifications to customers automatically. This not only enhances the customer experience, but decreases customer phone calls regarding delivery status.
4. Stock up before it’s ‘go time.’
Avoid the scramble by projecting your supply needs, then add a bit extra so you can be in stock during the busy holiday season. If sales surpass expectations, extra supplies will help you continue to get products out the door without having to source scarce supplies during the busiest time of the year.
5. Offer easy returns.
Offering easy returns not only encourages sales, but keeps customers coming back. Making returns easy eliminates consumer hesitation at checkout. In fact, 66 percent of online buyers look at a retailer’s returns policy before making a purchase.
6. Use multicarrier shipping software.
If shipping compliance is killing your bottom line, it’s time to let a software system make the right decisions for you. Seamless data exchange streamlines the way retailers and carriers interact during peak shipping times. Shipping software also allows retailers to use different carriers domestically and internationally while staying compliant with all the necessary documentation. Multicarrier shipping software even allows you to select the best service based on time-in-transit and customer preferences.
7. Turn shipping data into actionable insight.
What good is employing these smart shipping strategies without assessing what you've learned? With the right shipping software partner, you can access your detailed parcel analytics. With data from past holiday shipping seasons readily available, you can optimize your supply chain and improve logistics management to guarantee a successful holiday season every year.
Not only do these strategies ensure the best customer experience and give you a competitive edge, but they'll help you stay ahead of the curve, exceed consumer expectations, optimize delivery and returns processes, and maximize your profitability. From using the lowest negotiated rates with carriers to final-mile delivery and taking advantage of special conditions, retailers can guarantee orders are delivered to customers in a cost-efficient and convenient manner. Best wishes for a successful holiday season!
Tim Casey is vice president of product at ProShip, Inc., a Neopost company, and a global provider of logistics software and product solutions.