As a retailer and a shipper, the most important aspect of your holiday shipping customer service experience is ensuring order deliveries are convenient, cost-effective and on time for customers. The last thing you need in Q4 is cancelled orders, unhappy customers and bad feelings in what is supposed to be the season of good cheer.
Here are some tips on keeping your customers happy with your online store’s holiday shipping process.
1. Know Your Holiday Shipping Deadlines
It’s important to know key shopping and shipping dates so you can keep up with inventory, sales, orders and fulfillment to your customers. To ensure Santa isn’t late, keep in mind these key retail dates approaching and plan your shipping staff accordingly to ensure that services selected are delivered by the holiday.
2. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Be clear and upfront about the last day your customers can order to receive their items by December 24th. It’s imperative you communicate this at checkout, at the bare minimum. But it’s even better if you communicate on the product’s listing or even right on your homepage.
When possible, get granular and communicate delivery dates with each shipping option so your customers can decide if they want to opt for 2-day or overnight shipping just to be on the safe side.
Consider using this opportunity to do a marketing promotion, email campaign, text update, or run an ad. This reminds your loyal customers that they need to purchase by the cutoff date if they want to receive their order in time for gift giving. Scarcity tactics play to your customer’s sense of urgency and encourage them to click “Buy now.”
3. Keep Customers Informed Throughout the Shipping Cycle
Even when you’ve informed customers on your site and at checkout that they’ve met the cutoff date, they can get antsy wondering if their order will arrive before Santa Claus does. Take this opportunity to engage with your customer by notifying them when their package has been shipped, and providing a tracking number so they can follow along.
And if the worst should happen and the shipment is delayed (whether through a fulfilment issue, a carrier issue, weather, or one of the other problems that can crop up around shipping), take the opportunity to get in front of the problem and “make it right” with the customer. Offer a discount, refund or other incentive. This will help you explain the issue while — fingers crossed — still retaining the customer.
Of course, the best way to avoid eCommerce delivery problems is to plan for every contingency. We highly recommend implementing a backup carrier should your primary carrier let you down.
4. Make Receiving More Convenient at an Access Point
Consider giving your customers the opportunity to pick up their package where and when it is most convenient for them. In scenarios where you’re shipping to an urban area, or where a signature is required, this could mean the difference between your customer receiving their shipment on-time and missing out.
Consider providing shoppers alternate delivery options such as “pickup in store” (like UPS Access Point or FedEx Lockers) which offers shoppers protection from “porch pirates” and extended pickup hours.
5. Take Advantage of Free Shipping Day
This year, the annual “Free Shipping Day” falls on Friday, December 14, 2018.
According to the ever-reliable Wikipedia, Free Shipping Day started back in 2008 as a way to extend the holiday online shopping season. (Traditionally, holiday shopping online has peaked around Cyber Monday, with shoppers fearing that ordering any later might mean they receive their products too late for gift-giving.)
Stores can sign up to participate at FreeShippingDay.com, or you can do your own thing and offer free shipping renegade-style. And hey, if you’re nervous about offering free shipping, check out our guide to offering free shipping that doesn’t bite into your bottom line.
Want more holiday shipping tips? Check out the holiday shipping checklist we wrote for our partner, Blue Acorn.
Need help optimizing your store’s shipping for the holidays? Try a 30-day free trial of ShipperHQ.