The holiday shopping season is upon us! For many families, what follows the stressful winter holidays is the less hectic vacation season. Holiday shopping doesn’t stop in January, and with the major shift towards online shopping, time-sensitive holiday shipping without delays is a top-of-mind concern for customers.
If 2021 taught us anything, it’s to expect delays. But what can we do to plan ahead to minimize disappointment by meeting shipping deadlines, streamlining processes, and overall being pleased with the holiday shipping experience?
Create a clear and easy shopping experience.
A solid shopping foundation is key to the online holiday shopping experience. Clear product pictures, descriptions, explanations of policies, and expectations create consumer loyalty through trust.
Easy to pay.
There is nothing more frustrating when shopping than rummaging through a clunky website trying to figure out how to pay and what the actual cost with shipping is. Modern payment processing services often offer Apple Pay, Google Pay, and other options that online shoppers can quickly and effortlessly load their saved payment information into.
Optimizing the checkout experience makes the buying process so easy. Customers on the verge of converting can do so just by a click. Holiday delivery schedules can be hectic to manage, so being clear upfront can be helpful to your consumer.
Easy to use.
Studies show that more and more consumers are indulging in the holiday shopping season straight from their smartphones rather than from their desktop or laptop computers. Ensuring your website is mobile responsive is one of the best ways to ensure consumers convert to purchase quickly and easily.
There are many free and easy ways to ensure your website is optimized for mobile viewing and shopping. A fast-loading and mobile-optimized website leads to more sales and happier consumers.
Easy to understand.
Entering specific product weights and dimensions into your online inventory can provide exact shipping costs for your consumer as they are building their cart. As a consumer, we often choose the “free” or “flat rate” shipping options as we are shopping, but when it comes to the checking out process, find that those options result in delayed shipping, up to a month in the future! To avoid this disappointment, be clear and honest about shipping dates, and provide accurate tracking.
Did you know that shipping costs are the most common reason potential buyers click away and abandon their carts? Free shipping is an ideal option, but it’s not always a financially feasible one for your business. If you would like to supply free shipping to everyone, you wish to know how it affects your margins and what rates you’re on the hook to cover—including what it costs to ship your heaviest items and shipping to your furthest locations.
Flat rate shipping
If you wish to offset a number of your shipping costs and still avoid sticker shock when people take a look at their cart total, a flat rate shipping policy may be a great idea. With flat-rate shipping, you can set a flat price for the holiday shopping season that covers your shipping costs over the entire holiday shopping season for all purchases.
One way to calculate these is to use past sales data and factor total shipping costs divided by total orders to find the best median shipping rate. Little known fact: a flat-rate shipping cost is proven to convert more customers when it is time to click and buy!
Exact cost shipping
With exact cost shipping, customers can see down to the penny what it’ll cost to ship their order and buy it after they take a look at the total.
Adding an accurate weight to every one of your products helps customers see accurate shipping costs during the checkout process.
Provide accurate and up-to-date tracking info
Once your customers complete their purchase, they really only have one thing on their mind: When will it show up? You’ll likely get this question regardless of how clearly you’ve communicated holiday shipping delays and estimated shipping deadlines.
The more effectively you communicate available order tracking options, the fewer follow-ups you’ll get from anxious customers. Adding tracking numbers to all or any fulfilled orders can prevent lots of questions down the road.
Create trust for repeat loyalty.
With endless options to shop online, creating trust and building relationships with consumers is more important than ever. By using these foundational ideas, you’ll build a solid base for an excellent relationship along with your consumer to trust you during the vacation and holiday shopping season for years to come.
One way to build trust is to guarantee you can meet shipping deadlines by giving yourself the buffer you need to plan for holiday delivery delays. Pandemic-related delays and disruptions have increased exponentially with the increase in online shopping.
Be very clear about shipping deadlines in all communications. You can never say it too many times, in enough places, in more than two ways! Holiday shipping delays are inevitable, but being upfront and honest with your customer can lower your holiday returns and help you meet those holiday shipping deadlines.
Communication is key.
Create an explicit return policy and FAQ page
Prepare for returns. They are inevitable. Outline your return policy clearly with as much detail as possible, especially with shipping information, so customers have a point of reference. Did you know that about ⅔ of online consumers check your holiday return policy before they complete their checkout?
A great way to ensure understanding of your return policy is to include information in a more easily digestible way. FAQs that read and speak in a similar voice as your consumer will be far more helpful to them than the fine print legalese your official policy speaking to returns, delays, and other holiday delivery deadlines most likely contain.
Don’t bury this information, either. Use a banner, blog post, or a well-constructed pop-up to ensure the information your customer is seeking is easy to find.
We often see “last order dates” while shopping online when it’s nearing the holiday shipping season, ensuring packages and presents arrive in time for a specific date.
This is a fantastic tool to add year-round to the checkout procedure, as it provides an immediate answer to a question that is one of the biggest influences on completing a sale. Meeting these important Christmas shipping deadlines is crucial to minimize holiday returns. This instant relief adds to the trust you are building with your customer!
Consumer-driven supply chain crisis
An increase in online shopping creates several challenges for customers, suppliers, as well as small freight shipping companies. Basic supply and demand rules are applying, but with the unprecedented growth of retail sales, it can be difficult for a smaller supplier to keep up with the big box stores that have a better handle on expanding inventory needs.
Consumer behavior changes
Customers have a higher demand for goods than ever before. On the flip side, the ability for suppliers to meet that demand is more challenging by the day. As economies improve and suppliers adjust to produce as quickly as consumers can buy, we are seeing lots of changes in the small freight shipping industry.
Benefits of adjusting to changes creatively
The holiday shipping delays we experience and the overall holiday shipping situation isn’t looking like it will change anytime soon. So how do we embrace the new normal in a creative way?
One of the most effective and efficient solutions to many of the shipping delays supply chain changes create is to hire a small freight shipping company. Small freight shipping can be more cost-efficient as they can fit more than just one carrier into their load, and by sharing truck space, you are sharing the overall expense.
It takes a little more time to plan ahead for this option, but it pays off in the long run and gives plenty of time to account for unexpected delays.
Small freight shipping companies act as the middleman between the shipper and the carrier, facilitating communication between both parties and ensuring that the entire shipping process runs smoothly without shipping delays, this is of the utmost importance during the holiday shopping season.
A good, and often cheap freight shipping carrier will do all of the heavy lifting for you and can be an excellent investment, especially around the holiday shopping season when you’re overwhelmed with options and need to make sure holiday shipping deadlines are met.
Small freight shipping companies work with a huge network of carriers that provide reliable freight shipping tracking, meaning they can find and properly vet the right carriers to meet your needs. Whether you’re looking to save money, increase capacity or move your cargo faster, a freight shipper’s job is to find the right carrier for you.