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The festive season is rapidly approaching on the horizon. And, with it, comes the opportunity to make some of the biggest sales of the year for your eCommerce brand. This opportunity also comes with a challenge – shipping. If you want to nail your holiday shipping this year, then keep reading and the 3PL team will tell you everything you need to know…

1. Organise your warehouse

In the run-up to the holiday period, you should take the opportunity to get your warehouse as organised as possible.

After all, your warehouse is where the shipping process begins. You want to make sure that your warehouse is as organised as possible, so that when all those holiday orders start pouring in, you and your warehouse team can fulfil them as efficiently as possible.

It can be a good idea to map out your warehouse’s floor plan and discuss any pain points that currently exist with your fulfilment team. It’s likely they’ve spotted potential improvements that you’ve missed (such as changing the locations of popular product lines, etc).

2. Talk to your suppliers

In addition to making sure your warehouse is in order, you want to make sure your inventory is in order, too.

As such, reach out to your suppliers as early as possible and discuss your holiday inventory requirements.

Where possible, share your predicted order volumes, which lines are likely to prove the most popular, and when you’re going to need to replenish these lines. By coordinating closely with your suppliers, you can avoid running out of stock during one of the busiest times of year.

3. Mark out key dates in your calendar

Make sure that everyone in your business is aware of the biggest shopping days over the holiday period.

It can be all too easy for these big sales days to creep up on you and your team. So make sure that everyone is aware of these dates, and ensure they are scheduling leave, arranging rotas etc that take them into account.

These exact dates will vary depending on your eCommerce brand, but major sales dates during the holiday period include:

  • Black Friday – Friday 25th November 2022.
  • Cyber Monday – Monday 28th November 2022.
  • Christmas Day – Sunday 25th December 2022.
  • Boxing Day – Monday 26th December 2022.

4. Talk to your delivery companies

According to research conducted by Salesforce, last-mile delivery services are expected to exceed capacity by 5% during 2022’s holiday season.

That potentially translates into fierce competition for delivery slots, delayed deliveries and even missed deliveries.

As such, you want to gain a clear picture of your delivery company’s holiday shipping requirements. For example, your delivery company may extend delivery lead times, put in place new rules, or even different pricing structures (such as surge pricing).

This can not only impact customer satisfaction, but also your bottom line. So, talk to your delivery company about their holiday shipping requirements sooner rather than later!

5. Offer free shipping for the holidays

These days, there’s more competition for holiday-season spending than ever before.

Which makes offering free shipping a good idea.

Sure, you’ll incur higher costs, but this can be more than offset by the higher volume of orders you’ll potentially receive.

If you want to try to mitigate the higher costs you’ll incur by offering free shipping, you could factor in shipping costs to your product prices.

6. Ensure you’re offering order tracking

When a customer has ordered a product from you during the holiday season, they’re almost certainly ordering it for a set date, e.g. Christmas Day.

With that in mind, it’s essential that you offer your customers order tracking, so they can see the progress of their order – and ease any worries they may have.

It’s estimated that customers look at order tracking pages 3.5 times per order (and in some instances, as many as five times per order!). Order tracking is that important.

What customers DON’T want is for their order to disappear into a black hole. If they can’t see where their order is, they’re more likely to call you – resulting in more work for your customer service team and decreased satisfaction for the customer.

7. Communicate, communicate, communicate

Following on from the point above, it’s vital that your customer service processes are up to scratch ahead of the holiday season.

Most importantly, you need to make sure you are communicating with your customers in a transparent and honest way.

If an order is going to be delayed, then communicate that. By being as honest and transparent as possible, you’ll find that customers will be more understanding.

What customers won’t like is being kept in the dark about their orders. So, even if it’s bad news, make sure you communicate it!

8. Scale up your fulfilment team

If you’re expecting a particularly large surge in order volumes over the holiday period, then it’s a good idea to scale up your fulfilment team.

Should you decide to do this, and hire temporary workers, make sure you hire them in advance of the holiday period so that you have sufficient time to train them and integrate them into your existing fulfilment team.

9. Use holiday-specific packaging and inserts

The holidays are a special time of year. So, why not convey some of that feeling via your packaging?

Even if you just add holiday-themed inserts to your orders, this can create a more joyous unboxing experience – increasing the chances that your customers will shop with you again in the future.

10. Outsource your holiday shipping and fulfilment

If you’ve read all of the above and come to the conclusion that it’s a lot of work, you’d be right!

The above best practices are absolutely worthwhile, but we understand that it can be quite a daunting task. Particularly given how steep the learning curve can be for many aspects of holiday shipping and fulfilment.

That’s why it can make sense to outsource your holiday shipping and fulfilment to a 3PL (also known as a third-party logistics provider).

3PLs are able to take care of your entire fulfilment and shipping process from end to end. And, because this is their sole job, they’re experts at it!

Plus, because 3PL’s undertake fulfilment and shipping on behalf of multiple brands, they are able to achieve economies of scale, and negotiate highly competitive shipping rates that you alone could not.

Does that sound like something that would benefit your eCommerce business? Then speak to 3PL today.

Find out more about 3PL’s eCommerce fulfilment services now

For more eCommerce fulfilment, logistics and shipping advice, read the 3PL blog 

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