The holiday season is always big for retail stores and e-commerce shops alike. Still, online retail business owners need to ensure they can get their products in on time and get packages in customers’ hands before the big day arrives. Online shopping has been steadily surging in popularity, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic and the fast approach of the holidays means even tighter deadlines in the supply chain for brand owners. It’s projected that online shoppers will account for nearly 19% of total retail sales this holiday season, e-commerce businesses must be prepared.
Of course, it’s not just about getting packages to their destinations on time. It’s also essential to consider e-commerce packaging, how to ensure a pleasant unboxing experience, and making sure packaging options are durable enough to deliver valuable or fragile products such as jewelry and electronics. Customers are also becoming more aware of packaging waste and void-fill options, so sustainability is crucial.
It makes sense that shoppers are turning more and more toward e-commerce solutions. Who wants to battle the traffic and mobs at the stores in the holiday rush, after all? People like to be prepared, which often means buying their holiday gifts early. The best step to a great first impression is to ensure shipments arrive at customers’ doorsteps on time and intact.
While premium packaging and sustainability are important during the holiday season, the priority is to make sure holiday shipments arrive on time and in good condition. Here are six ways for that to happen.
- Provide clear shipping deadlines.
Naturally, timely fulfillment is always a top priority. Still, during peak times like the holidays, an e-commerce company probably has as many orders as can be handled, if not more. Companies can’t afford to have any flaws in logistics if wanting the shipping process to go smoothly and get orders to customers on time. Business owners hold suppliers to deadlines; customers expect swift shipping and delivery as well. If there are delays and long lead times for ordered products, let the customer know.
Depending on your carriers and type of packaging, you’ll likely only be able to ensure packages arrive on time up to a specific date. While FedEx and UPS are popular choices for customer fulfillment, you may need to go with the USPS if you can’t afford higher shipping costs. This delivery option will mean your packages will take a bit longer to reach their destination, and if you want to keep happy customers, they’ll need clear instructions on when they need to order their packages.
2. Stock your popular items early.
During peak times like holiday shopping, popular items fly off the shelf as quickly as they come in. Proper inventory management and turnaround times will ensure products are in stock and ready to ship. If drop shipping, make sure your manufacturers and suppliers can deliver holiday items early, whether they’re the hottest new toys, the latest tech gadgets, or subscription services. According to Material Handling and Logistics, timely delivery influences 87% of online buying decisions.
3. Choose the best packaging material for the job.
It’s easy to get caught up in the aesthetics of e-commerce packaging when shipping for the holidays. The nicest ribbon, box design, stickers, custom labels, and other elements of gift-like packaging won’t get your packages to their destinations on time without damage. Part of the best e-commerce packaging strategy is to ensure that you’re using the proper packaging for the right products. Record-breaking holiday returns are already expected this year, and delivering items with damage increases the rate and slows everything down for everyone.
A brown box made of corrugated cardboard may be the most popular shipping method, but it isn’t necessarily the best, especially for smaller items and accessories. Consider all of your sustainable packaging options, such as mailers, envelopes, bubble mailers, and reducing packaging waste with suitable materials like air pillows, bubble wrap, and recycled paper. Corrugated cardboard boxes are more durable than regular paperboard; most secondary packaging for e-commerce shipping uses corrugated cardboard.
4. Ship from multiple fulfillment centers.
During your peak holiday times, if fulfilling orders nationwide or worldwide, location is a high priority. One good option to increase the odds of providing the best possible customer experience is to ship your goods from multiple locations. With multiple locations, customers can order products from the nearest location. Shipping to closer customers will save money, which can be passed on to customers.
5. Consider insurance for your packages.
There are plenty of ways small businesses and large e-commerce shippers alike can protect their goods with frustration-free packaging. Some of the best choices include a padded envelope, self-seal flaps, water-resistant packaging solutions, poly bags, pillows, and foam inserts for extra protection inside the package. Still, even the perfect e-commerce packaging can’t guarantee a shipment will not get lost or damaged during transit. As an e-commerce shipper, insurance is critical if shipping expensive items. Even with insurance, claims can be denied and have extended processing times.
Carriers like UPS and FedEx generally provide value coverage up to $100 on packages they deliver. The USPS also provides coverage for all of their Priority Mail shipments. Just make sure to keep track of your sales figures, invoices, and shipping receipt for each package to ensure customers will receive replacements. For a claim, the shipping company may ask for the customer’s phone number.
6. Email customers tracking numbers and follow-ups
Since building brand identity is so crucial to online retailers, you likely already have digital emailing services. Send an email with tracking information once available. With the labels printed, be sure to include a packing slip. The packing slip will show precisely the number of items shipped and backorders, if any.
Within seven days or less from the order shipping, follow up with customers through an email to ensure the package arrived. A straightforward email opens the lines of communication if problems have arisen during transit.
Small and simple steps can make the difference between happy and disgruntled customers. Remember, the unboxing experience is crucial for the customer experience, but the most important is timely and intact product delivery. Remember to keep customers informed of their purchases. Communication through email and with the packing slip included on the package are simple forms of communication.
Getting your package there on time makes a good first impression on customers, and rewarding their anticipation with frustration-free unboxing and working products will win repeat customers.