11 Tips to Get Ecommerce Holiday Delivery Right
- Written by Richard Protheroe
The Holiday season is - without a doubt - the busiest time for retailers, and making sure you've got a best-in-class delivery strategy can make the difference between missing your sales targets and totally blowing them out of the water! After Thanksgiving Day on November 24th there's Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and Super Saturday leading right up to Christmas. It's a hectic period, but an ultimately rewarding one. But what is going to set you apart from the competition to ensure you have the best possible sales performance this year? Research is showing that retailers who go the extra mile with their delivery are the ones who get the highest amount of repeat business. With that in mind, here are our top 10 tips to ensure your holiday delivery is spot on.
1. Handwritten notes
Ever wonder why it's called Black Friday? Well the name comes from the fact that it's the first time that retailers actually start to making a profit on the year. As the orders start rolling in fast, customer service can slip by the wayside. Believe it or not, customers will understand how busy you are, so going out of your way to personally thank them goes a long way. https://twitter.com/forsie/status/340277540415500288 It also makes for great social media material as well and customers will be encouraged to share it. Add a little note on the back of the card highlighting your social media channels.
2. Free Shipping Day
88% of customers would be willing to shop with you, if you offered free delivery. It's such a big deal for shoppers that now there's a whole day dedicated to free shipping. That day is Friday 16th December and retailers are encouraged to sign up to FreeShipping.com, where you will gain a click through to your website. 2 of out every 3 carts are abandoned due to 'unexpected costs', so you should see a dramatic drop in abandonment rates due to free shipping. This is a good opportunity to highlight products that are slow movers. People will be encouraged to place larger orders due to the free delivery, so place these slower selling items next to best sellers and throughout the checkout process.
Free Shipping Day offers you the chance to rid yourself of those slow moving products
My Protein are fantastic at this and offer related products at the 'my basket' screen.
3. Third Party Insurance
It can be a daunting prospect when you put the safety and care of your products in the hands of a 3rd party carrier. So it's important to protect yourselves against potential pitfalls. There are some great companies who offer insurance across all the major couriers such as Shipsurance and U-PIC. So why choose third party insurance? Can't the carrier cover you for any losses or damages?
- Carriers will always ask you for proof that goods weren't already handed to you in the condition they now find themselves in. This is always a touchy subject as it's difficult to prove. Third party insurers don't require proof and this also includes loss, as well as damage.
- 3rd party insurers also offer highly discounted rates, so the more you ship the more you save. Very handy around this busy period.
4. Buy bulk packaging that stands out
Not a particular attractive subject, but an essential one. Custom packaging is an option that can really set you apart from your competitors. Having a tightly fitted, colourful box with your company colours is essential for brand recognition. Most packaging companies require that you order customer packaging in bulk, this is due to stereo charges (for printing colour), tool charges (to cut the box) and labour costs. However with the increase in sales there's no better time to order! There are a host of great packaging sites to choose from. In North America there is ULINE, Star Boxes or Office Depot. For the UK and European retailers you could look at Packability and Rajapack. Go that extra mile this holiday period and make that parcel look extra special!
5. Get a Shipping scale
If you are planning to have your own custom packaging, or you plan to add extras such as free gifts, handwritten notes and/or a Christmas card, it's worth keeping a scale at hand.
The weight of your product can mount up significantly and could be the difference between shipping a small or medium parcel. Therefore pick yourself up a digital shipping scale.
You can purchase a scale for around just $20 and it's a worthwhile investment.
It’s also worth familiarising yourself with your carriers stipulations. These are their standard procedures such as size, weight and instructions on labelling to ensure any extra filler isn't tipping your packages weight in to the next price bracket.
6. Label your goods
Unfortunately there is some negligence when it comes to carrier drivers handling your goods. If you are shipping especially fragile goods it is worth looking in to purchasing some fragile shipping labels. Most of these can be purchased on a roll of about 500 and come very cheap. Simply writing FRAGILE with a felt tip pin doesn't really have the same desired effect. If you want to go even further, it would be worthwhile looking at Shockwatch Labels. Not only do these act as a visual deterrent to a carrier driver but they also have a small red vial on the label which can show if the item has been dropped. If you decide not to take third party insurance, this label can help you discover at what point during the journey the damage occurred.
7. Expand your horizons
The last thing you want to be doing during the holiday period is completely overestimating the items you are going to sell. If you are selling seasonal products it's vital that you sell these before the season is out! Shoppers tend to look for bargains on marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon. So use these outlets to shift those products that aren't selling so well. As well as the aforementioned popular channels there are also lesser known websites that are becoming popular with retailers such as Wanelo and Shpock. Don't throw money away by binning those out of season products!
8. Bring everything together
If you are a smart retailer and you begin to your expand your horizons, it's vital that you have a centralised place to monitor all your order. That is where a good inventory management software solution can help you save time on the shipping process. You would be able to pull all of your orders into one dashboard and automatically set shipping rules against products based on their size and weight.
As well as pulling in from various marketplaces and having shipping rules automatically set you would then be able to bulk print all your shipping labels at the end of the day. This ensuring your shipping process is streamlined.
This could be the difference between hiring a temporary member of staff or not. Having a streamlined process makes it easier for your current team to handle the workload, which will save you time and money!
9. Re-arrange your warehouse
On the subject of staff, it is important to keep the morale up of your warehouse staff during this very busy period. So arranging your warehouse and implementing quality inventory control methods in such a way that makes it easier for your team to do their job is essential. Firstly, arrange your top selling products so they are at waist or shoulder height and are easier to pick. Putting them closer to the door when the carrier will arrive is also a smart move. Having the requisite boxes for the goods next to the items will make it easier for your staff to pick and pack. Lastly, offer an incentive program for your staff. Set targets for them throughout the day and if they are met, perhaps they could be rewarded with a few extra drinks at the Christmas party!
10. Be smart with returns
As we all know, returns are unfortunately inevitable. However you can be smart with your returns and adding a slip giving your customer options as to why they are returning the item is ideal. Such as:
If you see that a trend has started to form, you can sort this out before it becomes an issue that could effect future sales.
Returns are essential for repeat business, as 89% of customers would shop with you again if they had a positive experience with returns.
89% of customers would shop with you again if they had a positive experience with returns
If they have contacted you by email or phone to return the item just because 'it wasn't needed', see if you can negotiate a discount.
A 10% discount would be much more cost effective than having the item returned and put back in to stock.
11. Hedge your carriers
The number of orders shipped in the holiday season is daunting for carriers, unknown issues may arise with a carrier company leading to your customers not receiving their orders on time. Work with multiple carriers so that if one of your preferred carriers fails, you can still manage to deliver orders and keep the customer happy. Give these tips a go over the holiday period. Give us a Tweet @Veeqo and let us know if any worked for you.