Six simple ways to make shipping a breeze this Christmas
If you’ve been too focused on how to generate more sales this Christmas, take a moment to consider what happens next. At the end of every order is an anxious customer waiting for that special gift. Whether you sell designer dresses or budget briefs, the waiting game can be downright agonising for your customers and painful for your support staff. Here are some sure-fire ways to ensure that you enter the Christmas selling season prepared.
1. Clearly advertise cut-off periods
Telling prospective customers just when to buy is the perfect conversion driver but it will also ensure you’ve aligned their expectations to avoid disappointment. Whilst it’s tempting to ratchet up sales right up until the last minute, the ultimate responsibility of a late delivery will reflect poorly on your brand.
Most carriers will advise of their Christmas cut-off periods and transit times during the last few months of the year – if you don’t hear anything by late October, it’s time to start making some calls. Once you’ve confirmed the cut-off date for pickups in your area and also how much longer a standard delivery may take with your selected carrier during the busy season, its time to work out your own order cut-off date. Be sure to also account for increased order fulfillment activity, so add a buffer of one day to your standard pick and pack time.
2. Multiple delivery options
Most online retailers only offer one delivery option. Hopeful customers will make a purchase decision based on a “best case scenario” of how quickly a delivery can arrive. Others will abandon cart altogether. By offering multiple delivery options to your prospective customers, not only will you improve your conversion rate, but by allowing them to choose a service type, the responsibility of delivery speed shifts back on to your customers and gives you greater control.
3. Streamline your pick and pack process
Most retailers we work with experience at least a doubling of sales moving into the busy season (this usually occurs between the 3rd week of October through till the 1st week of December). Erratic purchasing behaviour in the later weeks could mean you will need to fulfill order volumes of up to five times that of a usual week. How prepared are you for such a drastic spike in order volume?
To ensure a smooth operation in the lead-up to Christmas, you should be able to:
- Obtain packing slips / invoices for daily orders, in a batch, with just a couple of mouse-clicks
- Obtain shipping labels, regardless of service type, in a batch, with just a couple of mouse-clicks
- Automatically mark orders as complete in the shopping cart once they have been shipped
- Automatically send tracking numbers to customers once the orders have shipped
4. Make the delivery process transparent
The number one driver of customer queries and complaints during delivery is a lack of information. Over sharing is more important than under sharing when it comes to delivery progress updates. When left up to carriers, tracking updates often lack relevance (“data electronically received” anyone?) to your customers. To reduce the burden of tracking parcels for your customers, make sure you use a platform or service that automatically shares tracking information with your customer at every key milestone of the delivery.
5. Ensure all shipping addresses are valid
An incorrect address is the fastest way to ruin Christmas for your customer. All it takes is an incorrectly typed postcode or a misspelled suburb name and your customer’s order will spend days in transit only to return to your warehouse, unannounced.
Automatic suburb and postcode validation technology is a must for any online retailer to prevent avoidable delays. There are loads of solutions for this that can be implemented in a couple of key areas on your site: on your checkout at time of ordering or once the order has been received and you are about to create a shipping label for the order.
6. Be proactive on preventing extended delivery delays
Sometimes all it takes is just one easy mistake for a parcel to go missing at a courier depot or to be left in the back of a courier van. Understanding the estimated time of arrival and tracking progress against this goal is critical in identifying potentially delayed deliveries that need to be addressed. Again, notifying customers early of any delays is important in keeping queries and complaints low, reducing your reactive workload.