Now that the holiday madness has come to an end, we’ve had a chance to step back, take a breath, and look at how shipping companies fared. With an unusually short holiday season and inclement weather, the shipping industry saw quite a few wrenches thrown into the system. However, Newgistics helped our merchants provide a positive shipping experience during the holidays with our streamlined returns management services. We’ve taken a closer look at some of the results from the holiday shipping reports to see what parcel delivery companies can glean from last year to make shipping methods even more reliable in future seasons. Our very own Vice President of E-Commerce Elizabeth Hunter was recently interviewed for an Internet Retailer piece on lessons retailers and shipping companies can learn from the just-passed holiday period. Her key piece of advice for retailers moving into 2014 is to partner with service providers like Newgistics to complement their existing operational activities, bringing a more positive and reliable customer experience to shoppers in the event that one of their other providers experiencing shipping snafus. Executing a “before, during and after” evaluation of carrier performance can help retailers keep tabs on how shipping companies are doing in terms of delivery time and accuracy. Diversifying shipping vendors to parcel delivery and returns management companies such as Newgistics, retailers can bring more flexibility to their operations in addition to other simple steps that can make a difference in the customer experience. Hunter says that by proactively communicating with consumers when a delay in shipping occurs, shoppers will be less likely to call customer service in aggravation, and etailers gain greater visibility into the status of shipments. Newgistics solutions not only reduce customer frustration, but allow merchants to improve efficiency across their organization with inventory management and proactive communication. A notification on status of shipment can work wonders on customer perception of a retailer. For example, our Newgistics Transit Triggers service provides a mechanism for sending emails to the customer that supports this type of interaction, informing them of weather delays or special deals and promotions. An accurate and reliable returns management program can be invaluable for merchants hoping to deliver high quality customer service along with customers’ packages. It’s inevitable that a customer will place an order for an item and, after receiving it, have it not meet their expectations. While shipping companies have no control over shopper product preferences and affirmation, they can control how easy it is for them to return a package to the merchant. One of Newgistics’ core pillars of service is a strong returns management program for its customers. The Newgistics SmartLabel includes prepaid shipping return labels that make it simple and hassle-free for customers to send back an item that wasn’t quite what they needed. This service is not only an easy way for merchants to handle returns, but customer satisfaction increases when their workload decreases. What other lessons have you learned from the 2013 holiday season? Whether you’re a retailer or vendor, we’d love to hear from you to see what you might have learned from this not-so-normal holiday shopping period!