Holiday Shipping Tips for Now and Throughout 2019
The holiday season can make or break a year for e-commerce sellers. It’s the time of year to further build your brand through positive customer experiences, increases in revenue, added customer loyalty, and acquiring new customers. All the work you’ve done to drive business throughout the year becomes critical during the holidays, when customers are not only buying products for themselves, but also for friends and family. The holidays present a business-building opportunity like no other time of the year, so it’s essential e-commerce sellers of all sizes nail the entire fulfillment of products to each and every customer.
Now in its third year of publication, ShippingEasy’s 2018 E-Commerce Seller’s Guide to Holiday Shipping helps navigate e-commerce sellers through the holiday shopping and shipping season, as well as throughout 2019. Below are some key findings and important tips from the guide that will alleviate some of the pressures that arise during this critical time of year.
The National Retail Federation (NRF) reported holiday sales in 2017 of $687.9 billion, with nearly $110 billion of that total coming online. The holiday demand spike presents a perfect opportunity to take your business to the next level. Evaluate your strategy from all angles to ensure that you don’t disappoint any customer.
To take full advantage of this season and beyond, e-commerce sellers have many things to consider, including:
- Marketing strategies: How retailers manage their holiday shipping will increase brand awareness, assist in new customer acquisition, grow loyalty, and lead to repeat purchases. For example, use confirmation emails and packing slips to personalize the customer experience by adding product recommendations, coupons or referral program offers to build repeat business around the shipping process.
- Shipping service levels: Carrier rate structures (e.g., flat rate and free shipping), return policies, weekend shipping and delivery, and communicating shipping carrier deadline dates all are part of the customer experience that can build continual future business. E-commerce sellers should be well aware of and fully communicate to their customers the important holiday shipping deadlines for all carriers.
- Holiday gift-giving: Shoppers expect an extra level of touch and care for their loved ones. From gift-wrapping options to what sellers include on the packing slip, the holidays provide a unique opportunity to be memorable for shoppers, which will move customers to brand evangelists.
- Post-Christmas strategies: The increased traffic that the holidays present means it's paramount to provide exceptional customer service. Do it right and those experiences can springboard into a strong new year of sales. Follow up with review requests from customers after the holidays to spread word-of-mouth about your business. Eighty-four percent of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, so this is a key business-building initiative after an influx of new customers.
Remember, holiday shoppers are sensitive to additional costs, which can impact revenue. Having the right delivery time at the right price — or even free — can make the difference between an abandoned cart and an extra item added to meet a free shipping threshold. The holiday season is a time to reconsider what cost and delivery options you make available to customers while maintaining the desired selling margin. Getting this mixture right translates to more sales, higher margins, and an improved experience for your customers.
Chris Vaughn is vice president of marketing of ShippingEasy, a cloud-based platform for e-commerce merchants of all sizes offering order management, shipping, inventory, and email marketing.