Ah, October—a thrilling moment for your e-commerce venture. Your marketing strategy for the peak season is finely tuned, and your inventory is primed for the impending sales surge. You’re all good to conquer heaps of sales opportunities in the upcoming months! Or are you? There’s another vital element that can make or break your success during this Golden Quarter: your shipping process.
While rising sales volumes are undeniably exciting, it can also present challenges in keeping pace with demand and ensuring timely deliveries. So, time to prepare your shipping process to meet the imminent peak season rush head-on. Profit from these 11 tips to optimise your shipping process for guaranteed success during the most wonderful time of the year!
Why prepare your shipping for peak season success?
Peak season is one of the most important times of year to grow the revenue of your e-commerce store. Ware2Go’s survey reveals that 73% of US merchants anticipate higher holiday sales this year compared to previous years. If you do not get your shipping right, customers will probably not return to your store. Here are three main reasons to pay attention to how orders from your store are being delivered:
- Customer satisfaction: Timely delivery is essential to keep customers happy. During the holiday season, people expect their orders to arrive on time for special occasions or gift-giving. Failure to meet these expectations can lead to customer dissatisfaction and lost sales.
- Competitive edge: Providing reliable shipping can set you apart from your competitors. It can be a selling point that attracts and convinces more customers to buy from your store.
- Maximise sales: A well-prepared shipping process allows you to handle a higher volume of orders efficiently. This means you can capture a larger share of the holiday market and maximise your sales potential, now and in the future. Because happy customers can be targeted for more sales in the future.
What are key dates for Peak Season 2023?
As we approach the end of the year, businesses throughout the UK are preparing for the Peak Season of 2023. Keep these dates in mind as a road map for your Q4 sales:
- 31st Oct.: Halloween: 1st scarily high sales peak of the season
- 11th Nov.: Singles’ Day: Opposite of Valentine’s Day for many shoppers
- 24th Nov.: Black Friday: Major peak, also in the days before and after
- 27th Nov.: Cyber Monday: Almost equally high sales as Black Friday
- 18th Dec.: Monday before Christmas: Traditionally a high-sales day
- 23rd Dec.: Super/Panic Saturday: Huge sales due to Christmas business
- 24th Dec.: Last-minute Christmas shopping
- 26th Dec.: Boxing Day: Good for special offers after Christmas
With these key dates firmly in mind, you’re well-equipped to navigate the bustling waves of Peak Season 2023. Next up, we’ll take a closer look. We’re about to reveal 11 essential shipping strategies designed to guarantee a smooth and thriving peak season for e-commerce businesses.
11 Tips for successful shipping during Peak Season
1. Let customers choose their preferred shipping options
Shoppers often abandon their carts because of insufficient delivery and payment options. Customers are looking for flexibility and choice – and this is particularly true during the holidays. A range of shipping and payment options alleviates anxiety, allowing your customers to order and pay on their terms.
Collection points also offer customers the chance to collect their packages when they want, rather than having to stay in and wait for a parcel during the busy holiday season.
2. Distribute your shipping volume across different couriers
Using multiple couriers offers several benefits instead of exclusively relying on a single courier. One of the most significant benefits is the reduction of bottlenecks and delays. When one courier is overwhelmed, others can step in to ensure your parcels keep moving smoothly. Besides, you can optimize costs by selecting the most cost-effective solution for each shipment.
Using specific couriers’ strengths in different regions is an untapped advantage. These couriers have expertise and established networks in their respective areas, ensuring more efficient and reliable deliveries. And let’s not forget about the flexibility. With a multi-courier approach, you can select the perfect service level for each shipment based on urgency, destination, and budget, ensuring business continuity and meeting your customers’ expectations.
3. Navigate peak season shipping surcharges
During peak season, couriers may apply extra fees to maintain their service levels and delivery experience despite the increase in shipments. These fees compensate for additional costs, such as increased staffing and longer service hours, and are added to regular surcharges. If you’re planning a budget for peak season or evaluating shipping costs for your webshop, it’s important to factor in these additional charges.
4. Use shipping protection for your peak season parcels
The chance of a lost, damaged, or stolen parcel increases dramatically over the holiday period. However, without insurance, you’ll have to pay for any losses yourself. Send your packages insured to cover the costs when things go wrong. Insuring your parcels reduces delays for replacement items, as you’ll feel confident that you can cover the extra costs of replacing missing or damaged items.
Tip: In terms of damaged items, be sure to keep the product or have detailed photos ready for the inspection before your payout is issued by the insurer.
5. Leverage automation to print labels in bulk
Investing in the efficiency of your warehouse operations is especially important during peak season. One highly beneficial strategy is leveraging automation to print labels in bulk. This efficient method saves a lot of time and greatly minimises the chances of errors that might occur during manual printing.
Additionally, printing labels in bulk saves costs, making it a practical choice for merchants with a high volume of orders. It’s a simple, yet powerful strategy that can make a significant difference in managing the high order volumes during peak season.
6. Use customised picking lists to boost warehouse efficiency
Reducing human errors during the picking and packing processes is crucial during peak season. One effective strategy is to adopt batch picking, where multiple orders are grouped together and assigned to a single picker. This method reduces the time and effort spent on retrieving items by allowing pickers to collect multiple items at once. Besides, if your products require precision, single-scan picking helps you to jump from order to order with just a quick scan.
To further enhance efficiency, consider implementing a picking software that generates customised picking lists according to your preferred way of working. These operational enhancements not only meet the demands of peak season but also establish a foundation for long-term warehouse efficiency.
7. Be upfront about shipping deadlines during the peak season
The holiday period often disrupts delivery schedules, leaving customers eagerly awaiting their much-anticipated parcels. Clearly communicating delivery times and possible delays empowers customers to plan and shop in advance. Consider sharing your delivery schedule on social media to create a sense of urgency and encourage early purchases.
Additionally, proactively inform your customers about potential shipping delays in your peak season order confirmations. This not only demonstrates your commitment to timely holiday deliveries but also sets realistic expectations, acknowledging that delays are commonplace during the holiday rush. Remember, couriers are also grappling with an influx of packages within a limited timeframe!
8. Keep holiday shoppers informed with shipment tracking
Keeping your customers informed is one of the most important things to do in the event of a delay. To keep your customers informed of updates about their own delivery, set up automatic tracking emails. By allowing customers to track their shipments at every step of the parcel journey, you can increase transparency, reduce the number of WISMO requests, and improve their experience.
Moreover, timely updates through emails or SMS not only address any potential concerns promptly but also give your customers a sense of control over their purchase. They can anticipate delivery and make any necessary arrangements, ensuring a smoother and more satisfactory delivery experience. This extra layer of service can make a significant difference, especially during the hectic holiday season.
9. Boost customer satisfaction with collection point delivery options
Enhance your customers’ control over holiday deliveries by suggesting convenient collection points for better timing. Additionally, offer the convenience of automatic tracking emails, providing real-time updates on their orders. This not only enhances the reliability of your deliveries but also empowers customers to choose their preferred delivery location, reducing the risk of missed deliveries and logistical delays. Additionally, it provides added convenience as customers can collect their packages at their convenience, resulting in a smoother and more delightful shopping experience.
Next to ensuring greater punctuality, delivery at a pickup point is also the most sustainable option. In fact, delivering at a single destination allows couriers to make a single trip, thus reducing CO2 emissions. Keep this in mind as well when recommending this delivery option to your customers during the peak period.
10. Let customers return their orders after the holiday season
The legal return (or cooling off) period is 14 days. But since peak season orders are largely gifts purchased well in advance, it is good practice to offer an extension beyond the standard return period. That way, those who receive the gift can return it without any problems even beyond 14 days after purchase. An extended return period also helps lessen the pressure on couriers, who are already overburdened by standard deliveries.
Good to know: Research has shown that a long return period means that customers actually return less because they become “attached” to the products or find another use for it.
11. Prioritise customer service during and after peak season
Enable your customer service team to excel in keeping your customers updated, especially during peak season. Properly train, staff, and value your customer service team, as they handle customer concerns and work extra hours during busy periods, often being the first point of contact for customer issues.
Remember, their dedication significantly impacts customer satisfaction. A well-served customer is more likely to return and choose you over a competitor. Additionally, don’t hesitate to encourage your customer service team to ask happy customers to leave reviews on your online store. This not only gives you valuable feedback, but also builds a sense of community and trust.
Turn Peak Season struggles into success with shipping automation
A fast, smooth, and efficient shipping process is crucial to surviving the peak season. The key to success isn’t working harder, but working smarter. By automating your shipping process, you’ll save time preparing shipments and reduce errors during the hectic holiday period.
With good shipping software, you can automate all of your logistics processes, including creating labels in bulk, generating customs documents pre-filled with the customer’s information, optimising your warehouse’s picking and packing process, and handling returns smoothly.
With Sendcloud, you can automate your entire shipping process, and do it tailored to you and your customers’ needs, both nationally and internationally.
Curious what we can do for you, even when peak season has already started? Book your call today and find out!