E-commerce shipments are very important around Christmas.
In fact, a carefully planned strategy for the 2019 holidays cannot overlook a fundamental aspect of the sales process, such as shipping.
I already hear the voices of customers asking you: “When will my order arrive?” It’s time to prepare to answer them, to reassure them and reassure yourself too.
Are you ready? Let’s begin!
What are we talking about today?
How is Christmas changing for E-commerce?
During the holidays we always sell a lot more than the rest of the year and every year more than the previous year. The data tells us that both offline retail sales and online sales are growing.
According to these predictions, retail sales in the United States had to grow between 4.3 and 4.8% in 2018, compared to 2017. Instead, the growth of e-commerce has been much faster: in 2018 purchases increased by 16.5%.
Looking closely at the data, what does the growth of online shopping mean?
- Mobile shopping has now surpassed desktop browsing and 31% of purchases on e-commerce worldwide take place via Mobile. So you need to focus a lot on the Mobile version of your site: that’s where your customers will buy more and more.
- Physical stores will not die. Within an omni-channel strategy, many stores become pickup points for online purchases. Not only places of shopping, but also places to collect items purchased online or bring back items bought on Amazon.This is a strategy adopted by Kohl for example The price of Kohl’s shares, thanks to this new service, has increased by 12%. During the holidays, this tendency to transform into pickup points is destined to grow . Physical stores, in fact, can be a great point of support for picking up gifts that customers don’t want to receive at home to avoid risking that they end up in the hands of the recipient.
- 40% of buyers will buy in the last 10 days before Christmas. It is therefore essential that the shipping process is treated in detail and has no problems, to satisfy all the requests that will arrive to you. Many purchases will be concentrated in a few days, and your customers will want to receive presents before 25. Are you sure you can do it without a planned strategy right now?
Christmas gifts: when do your customers buy them?
We mentioned earlier that many products are purchased in the last 10 days before Christmas, but in these days sales are increasing.
Customers in fact now buy their gifts very early, not only in traditional pre-holiday events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which however grow from year to year.
The increase, of course, is already tangible.
This increase should also make you think about the opportunity to offer a unique shopping experience, which really makes the difference.
We have seen, for example, how the shopping experience is connected topackaging, but if a nice branded package arrives late, or damaged, all the efforts made are useless.
Once your customers have completed the purchase, you must ensure that everything runs smoothly, ie that the package arrives at its destination as soon as possible. Read on and let’s see how to do it!
Plan your strategy for 2019 Christmas shipments
First of all, you should stop, think and step back.
Go back to 2018 and analyze the buying behavior of your customers during the Christmas holidays:
- What was the total profit?
- Which were the best selling products?
- How much were the shipping costs?
- What were the days with the most purchases?
- Where did your buyers come from? From which country or region?
- How many customers have made a return?
- How many have asked you about their order?
Looking at the recent past you will have the chance of making accurate previsions for the 2019 holidays, so that you have a clearer idea of how many products you need in stock, the packages you need to ship, and so on.
Prepare the packaging and inventory
Customers first of all want an intact package, with the object in perfect condition. And if the package is destined for a loved one, the attention is even greater.
Therefore, within your Christmas 2019 shipping strategy, you will need to pay attention to the packages you use: are they large enough? Resistant? Does the internal packaging adequately protect the product?
These packages must then be shipped, that is entrusted to a carrier. Each carrier, however, has its own shipping policies: some set restrictions on shipping methods, others on the size of the envelope, others still on weight.In short, for the upcoming Christmas holidays you will have to send many packages in many different ways: are your carriers ready?
As for the inventory, the imperative is to plan based on the data you already have. How much do you expect to sell? Our advice is to replenish the warehouse as much as you can, because, as you saw from the data at the beginning, Christmas sales are increasing more and more.
Christmas shipments: optimize the checkout experience on your E-commerce
Another fundamental aspect to consider in the post-purchase experience of your customers is the moment of checkout. Here are 3 useful tips to convert potential customers into actual customers thanks to the possibility of choosing the shipping method:
- Provide flexible shipping options. Does your e-commerce provide a single shipping method in 5 working days? You should offer the possibility of faster delivery, or, if shipping is very expensive, you should consider a cheaper method. It is true that during the holidays your customers want above all to make a good impression with an appreciated gift, but if they find the same object from one of your competitors who offers an economic shipment, they will probably choose him.
- Clearly show the amounts of all shipping fees. Try to avoid surprises to customers, show immediately all taxes even to customers who buy from abroad. You might even choose to pay upfront fees that would otherwise make negative your customer’s shopping experience.
- Use an address verification system. In other words, you should ensure that buyers enter their address correctly, avoiding misunderstandings at the time of delivery.
Automate the choice of shipments for Christmas
Let’s still focus on the choice of Christmas shipments. Is it easy and fast or does it require attention and many clicks from the customer? With the holidays approaching, you should automate it in 3 ways:
- Set your shipping rules by destination.
- Choose the carrier automatically based on the expected cost and delivery times.
- Improve communication in the event of doubts or problems at checkout.
We have seen how you can prepare for the wave of purchases by making them comfortable for your customers and manageable for you and your team. But when it comes to carriers? Which one to choose for Christmas expeditions? Let’s see it together.
Choose the carriers based on the Christmas deadlines of your E-commerce
In Europe alone, DHL, UPS and FedEx deliver 50 million packages every day during the holidays.
50 million deliveries for 40 days, those that separate Thanksgiving from New Year’s Eve.
Not bad, right?
This large volume of deliveries can be enervating both for those who sell and those who buy. But online commerce should be used precisely to reduce stress: the buyer in front of his own PC or mobile phone buys with just a few clicks and the Merchant handles packaging and shipping in just a few steps.
It should be like this in an ideal world. For many e-commerce it is, but we know that under Christmas the deadlines loom more than ever and the carriers have their precise Christmas deadlines.
So remember to check the deadline of your carriers. You can then choose whether to entrust them with national or international shipments
The best solution, from the customer’s point of view, is to have a variety and flexibility of choice. For this reason, with ShippyPro you can offer your buyers the opportunity to choose the delivery method based on their location, shipping rules and the time needed to fulfill the order.
It is true that there are Merchants who rely only on the postal service and are happy, but consider the possibility of offering a wide range of choices for Christmas shipments: your customers will appreciate.
Promotions and shipments: a winning combination for 2019 Christmas
Even if you don’t usually offer discounts, next Christmas could be a good opportunity to test special offers for your customers.
It is essential that you do your accounts well so as not to earn too little from high-value objects. You could consider, for example, to offer free shipping. It would be a great incentive to buy and make a good impression on both old and new customers.
Free shipping: yes or no? Before proposing and advertising it, you should evaluate:
- Average order value of your customers.
- Profit margin on each individual product.
- Actual shipping costs.
After calculating this data, you can choose whether:
- Offer free shipping only for the most sold products.
- Incorporate the shipping cost into the product list price, which actually increases slightly.
- Offer free shipping above a certain expense threshold.
Communicate your shipping and delivery dates clearly to your customers
Carriers have Christmas deadlines. They can’t send very close to Christmas. They need time to deliver your product, as you may need 1 or 2 days to process the order.
When you have well in mind the deadlines beyond which you cannot push yourself, you should communicate them to customers. On the site, through newsletters, on your social pages: that is, you should clearly say how long buyers can buy with the assurance that their package will arrive by Christmas.
Transparency is fundamental. Whether you ship within your country, in Europe or outside Europe, being clear and alerting your customers will save you a lot of complaining emails and the big question: “Will my package arrive by 25?”
Offer special delivery options
Even if you have warned all potential customers on every channel, there will always be someone who will need a last-minute gift. For this, you should think about shipping options like:
- Same day delivery.
- Local delivery.
- Overnight delivery, ie the package will arrive the day after shipment.
- Pickup in store.
If you don’t want to miss a sales opportunity, plan these last minute offers as well.
Get ready for an increase in returns
Unfortunately, more purchases in November and December also mean more returns in January. People can rethink it and can decide to send the purchased item back to you. In anticipation of these returns you should check your return policy: is it understandable and does it facilitate the return? If it is clear you are already a step ahead, but not enough. You can do more. You can prevent the increase of returns with some tricks, such as:
- Show high quality photos of your product, possibly multiple photos from different angles. Spending an extra minute to satisfy the customer’s curiosity can prevent you from a annoying post-Christmas return.
- Describe the object in detail, with different sizes depending on the country. An accurate description is obviously needed for clothing and shoes.
- Respond to positive reviews and highlight them on the site and on social networks. A potential customer may need detailed reviews, which will inform him correctly about what you offer.