Kids are back in school, Halloween candy is on the shelves, and the daytime temperature here at the Newgistics headquarters in Austin has finally dipped below 100 degrees for the first time in months. What does that all signify? To us, it means that merchants are swinging into full gear as they prepare for the peak holiday season. In this post, we wanted to share some key pointers and best practices that can help organizations get their shipping procedures in top condition for the holiday rush:
  • Obtain all carriers holiday cut-off shipping dates as soon as possible
  • Factor in the time it takes to fulfill orders to ensure a positive ordering experience for your customers
  • Make sure the client service team is fully aware of critical shipping cut-off days and dates
  • Cross-train the operations team to handle delivery and returns, minimizing the possibility of downtime during the most critical season
  • Consider outsourcing portions of fulfillment or drop ship from your vendors during peak/holiday season in order to help manage the increased load or unexpected events
  • Carefully examine all shipping policies to ensure the whole team is well prepared for the increased activity
More on Preparing your Shipping Policy for Peak Season One of the leading factors that determines the success or failure of the customer experience is the manner in which merchants set expectations with consumers about their deliveries. Too often, merchants fail to clearly identify all the shipping options available to their customers or do not plainly state how their order will be handled once it is submitted. The holiday season is already a stressful time for consumers as they scramble to order all the right gifts in time for gatherings of family and friends – which means that any miscommunication or mishandling of their delivery will make them even more likely to get upset with the merchant and spread the word about the incident. A smooth holiday delivery begins with setting the right expectations up front in the shipping policy. In order to do this, Newgistics advises our clients to:
  • Create a dedicated section of your web site (under Customer Service or Support) just for the Shipping Policy
  • Clearly outline the different shipping options that are available to the consumer, and their associated costs whenever possible, such as:
    • Standard Delivery (3– 7 Day)
    • Expedited Ground (2 – 5 Day)
    • Second Day Air
    • Next Day Air
    • If there is any delay in shipping due to order processing requirements on the part of the merchant, it is important to identify what the expected delay in shipping may be so that consumer expectations are properly set.
    • Use your order confirmation/”thank you” email (which should be sent to the customer immediately after they place an order) as another vehicle to reiterate your shipping policy.
    • Send proactive delivery status updates to customers via their method of choice (such as email or text message).  These communications are also an opportunity to add promotional message that encourage repeat business.
    • Take advantage of self-service web tracking tools or API tools that can be integrated into your website.
If you implement these practices, you are proactively safeguarding your brand against misunderstandings about your shipping processes during the most time-sensitive part of the year. Your customers will appreciate you being open and clear about your Shipping Policy, and your order management, fulfillment, and call center teams will be prepared to handle the influx of orders during peak season.