The air is a bit brisker, the leaves are starting to change colors and Starbucks is already serving its cult-favorite Pumpkin Spice Lattes. While it’s technically still summer, everything around us is saying “fall”. And you know what that means – the holiday shipping season is just around the corner.
The holiday shipping season is a notoriously chaotic time for ecommerce businesses. You’re dealing with a flood of increased orders, a surge in returns, and there are always a few unhappy, “Scrooge-like” customers, placing last-minute orders.
But if you start thinking about what you need to do to prepare now, you’ll save yourself a major headache later. Here are four quick tips to help you gear up for this year’s holiday shipping season:
1. PREVENT LAST-MINUTE HOLIDAY SHOPPING
Look out for holiday shipping deadlines for 2014 (typically released in October and November), and make sure your customers are aware of them too! Post these deadlines up on your website where they are clearly visible to your customers. That way, your customers will know when they need to wrap up their holiday shopping, and won’t be caught off guard if an item doesn’t arrive in time.
2. IDENTIFY WHICH PRODUCTS ARE GOING TO SELL OUT FIRST
It’s important to anticipate which products may sell out quickest during the holiday rush period. Make sure to have plenty of inventory on-hand before things start heating up.
3. SAVE BIG AND TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE SEPTEMBER USPS PRICE CHANGE
On September 7, 2014, the U.S. Postal Service® lowered Priority Mail rates. Yes, you heard right – prices have actually gone down. So if you typically ship packages weighing five pounds and up, you have the potential to save up to 42 percent over private carriers (like UPS and FedEx).
4. SET UP A GAME PLAN FOR RETURNS
An increase in shopping also inevitably means an increase in product returns, so it’s essential that you have your returns process down pat. After all, the no. 1 reason why in-store-only shoppers refuse to buy online is because of a poor returns process.
Fortunately, ecommerce businesses now have access to a new Endicia service that allows them to print USPS return labels that are not pre-paid. This means that the postage is paid if (and only if) the return label is scanned in the mail stream. You no longer risk losing money on unused shipping labels, and you can either provide a return label right in the box or email one to your customer on-demand.
If you have any additional tips to help ecommerce businesses prepare for the holiday shipping season, be sure to sound off in the comments below. And stay tuned for more holiday-themed blog posts coming your way!