Did you know that this year’s holiday shopping season is 6 days shorter than 2018?

If you’re one of the many retailers that does the bulk of your revenue in Q4, capitalizing on traffic during the holidays is probably top of mind. 

You also know that a big part of making this year a success is by having a customer service experience that is bar none, particularly around shipping. 

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. After all, no one wants to have their kids, significant other, sibling or whoever go home without a cherished gift all because a package didn’t arrive in time.

That’s we we put together a list of tips on how to keep your customers happy with your online store’s holiday shipping process. 

By adopting these tips, you’ll be able to provide an eCommerce experience that reduces cart abandonment, improves customer loyalty and leads to a stress-free holiday shopping season.

1. Show delivery date and time estimates

After a customer has given you money, they want a clear picture of what’s going to happen post-purchase, just like how Amazon does it. 

This why showing estimated delivery date is becoming industry best practice. It is a way for merchants to improve customer experience, boost consumer confidence, and differentiate themselves from their industry competitors. 

It also gives you, the merchant, more information about the shipment.

To offer your customers the best delivery date experience possible, consider implementing a date picker or time slot delivery in your checkout. These options allow buyers to choose exactly what day or even time window they would like their shipment delivered.

At the very least, showing even a delivery range of “5-7 days” at checkout can be a better user experience to your customers than showing nothing at all.

2. Offer the lowest shipping rates when possible

Once a customer hits checkout, they expect to see a shipping option that’s the best value to them. Not only with cost savings, but with delivery time as well. 

Depending on what you sell online, there are a number of carrier options you can use, each of which might be cheaper in one scenario versus another. Especially around the holidays where some carriers increase their rates, the shipping price you show could be the difference between a customer choosing you versus another online store.

That’s how rate shopping can help.

With rate shopping, you can show the cheapest rate possible to your customer, no matter what’s in their cart. You can choose to offer the fastest, cheapest carrier service every time, plus give your customers additional flexibility during the checkout process.

If you sell items with high shipping margins – such as books or paper – this is a way to stay competitive.

3. Give more flexibility with in-store pickup

With the BOPIS (Buy Online, Pickup In-Store) option, both you and your customers can avoid shipping fees. Plus, customers can pick up items at a time that fits their schedule.

Many of the most successful eCommerce brands, including Walmart and Target, offer their customers this type of service. Not only does it increase foot traffic, but opens the door to upsells and additional purchases being made in-store by the same consumer.

Even if you don’t have a physical store location, in-store pickup can still be an option for you, depending on what carriers you work with. For example, UPS and FedEx will securely hold packages at their retail locations and let customers pick them up via their UPS Access Point™ and FedEx Hold at Location programs.

4. Be smart about free shipping 

It’s no secret that Amazon’s fast and free Prime shipping has raised customer delivery expectations across the board. If your business fails to meet these high customer demands, you’re going to see it affect conversions.

However there’s one big caveat: free shipping is free to your customers, not to you. The good news is that there are still several ways to offer free shipping without eating your margins.

To offset the costs, set promotional thresholds to offer free shipping only if the cart hits a certain minimum number of products or dollar amount. Or, limit free shipping to only items or delivery regions that have lower shipping costs for you.

You can also only offer free shipping on slow or low cost methods such as ground or economy.

5. Give more transparency to cross-border customers

Buyers in other countries often need full transparency and extra assurance that your company is legitimate. Something as simple as adding customer reviews, security icons and trust seals at checkout can increase conversions cross-border.

Savvy merchants will also show Delivered Duties Paid (DDP) pricing at checkout,which accounts for duties and taxes when calculating the total price for an order. By doing this, a customer won’t be hit with a surprise fee that has to be paid before getting their package, or experience additional delivery delays. 

Showing these costs from the get-go will not only set you apart from other competitors, but make it easier to compete with domestic alternatives within a customer’s home country.

Your eCommerce platform’s native features may not provide the flexibility and control you need to offer customers the shipping options or pricing they want during the holidays. With this year’s holiday shopping season six days shorter than last year, it’s more important than ever to make sure you have a shipping strategy that keeps your customers coming back again and again. 

ShipperHQ is a shipping solution that can help you put a strategy in place that fits your business goals. With ShipperHQ, merchants are empowered to compete with Amazon’s of the world through customizable delivery options and shipping rates at checkout. 

If you want to make shipping profitable and use it to differentiate from competitors during the holidays, download our new guide.

Download our 2019 Holiday Shipping Survival Guide

For this guide, we analyzed data from our top performing merchants during Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2018 and discovered what tactics many of the merchants were using for their stores. If you’re still building out your holiday strategy now – or looking to plan ahead for 2020 – this guide is a great place to start.