According to a Google Consumer Survey of 1,500 consumers conducted in early July of 2013, nearly half of consumers say they plan to buy holiday gifts online this year.
As the holiday shopping season quickly approaches, it’s important for businesses—particularly ones that sell merchandise online—to put together plans that will help them meet the demands of new and returning customers. The holiday shopping season is a great opportunity for businesses to connect with new prospects that are looking for the perfect gift to give away to a family member or friend this year. According to the same Google survey mentioned above, one-fourth of gifters in 2012 purchased from a retailer they had never shopped with before. There are a number of factors that influence consumer shopping decisions online.
When consumers are looking for a new product to buy or business to support online, shipping becomes an important factor in the decision-making process. Not surprisingly, when shopping online during the holidays, consumers want to know that the products they buy from online retailers will without a doubt arrive at their doorsteps on time. So what can business owners do to streamline the shipping process and guarantee that products will make it into the hands of customers in time for family gatherings like Thanksgiving and Christmas? This article offers three recommendations for business owners:
1. Plan Ahead With Help From Employees
One of the best ways to streamline shipping to prepare for the holiday shopping season is to simply spend time planning ahead in the months and weeks leading up to the holidays. In order to effectively plan ahead for the holiday rush, consider getting extra help from your employees (or friends and family if you’re a smaller online retailer). You can streamline shipping during the holiday shopping season by organizing one or two days in which you and all your employees (or friends and family) spend time packaging and preparing orders that you know will need to be fulfilled and sent out during the holiday rush. These are typically your most popular products, or they might be your bestselling products from last year’s holiday shopping season. Planning these intentional “pre-package parties” can help down the line when it comes time to fulfill a large amount of orders in a short amount of time.
2. Take Advantage of Technology
Another strategy you can use to prepare for the holiday shopping season involves using technology. Instead of spending time worrying about how you’re going to realistically prepare packages and print shipping labels during the holiday shopping season you should consider investing in solutions that can help you save on time and energy. Using effective, efficiency-oriented technologies can allow you to continue doing what you do best—growing your business. For example, many online retailers have adopted electronic postage systems and solutions designed to make their shipping processes more efficient. Electronic postage systems are software platforms that enable the online purchase and printing of U.S. Postal Service postage, from a computer, to be used for domestic and international mailing and shipping. By using electronic postage solutions offered by companies like Endicia, business owners can greatly increase business productivity, reduce—or eliminate entirely—trips to the Post Office, and ultimately save on costs.
3. Designate a Specific Time of Day To Process All Orders
A final strategy you can use to streamline shipping during the holiday season involves being more intentional about when, and how often, you process orders throughout the day. As the holiday season approaches, orders for your products will start increasing. In order to keep production and fulfillment up during this time, it might be beneficial to pick a certain time of day that you can dedicate to processing and preparing all orders that come in during the day.
By not setting a specific time of day in which you can prepare and ship items out to customers, you risk wasting too much time stopping throughout the day to work on individual orders that come in. In preparation for the holiday shopping season, designate a chunk of time for daily order processing and shipping preparation. Using this strategy can help prevent production from slowing down. You might even find that it actually helps improve your rate of production—which leads to an increase in profits—during the holiday season.
According to Google, up to 40% of this entire year’s sales will likely happen during the holiday shopping season. In order to satisfy the demands of your customers, consider implementing one (or all) of the recommendations outlined in the article above.
For more insight, check out our ecommerce tips and trends page
About Jessica Foth
As Product Marketing Manager for Endicia, Jessica Foth develops and drives business strategy for the shipping market. Her various responsibilities include market analysis, program development and implementation, demand generation, and messaging. Prior to her role in Product Marketing, Jessica managed the Endicia Marketing Services team to develop, execute, and measure marketing campaigns, events, and customer communications. Jessica has a B.A. in Journalism & Strategic Communication from the University of Minnesota.