A Holiday Rush Shipping Guide
The holidays are just around the corner. For many, it is a time of excitement and joy. For businesses, however, the holidays can invoke a mixed bag of feelings. On the one hand, the surge in orders leads to dramatic profit growth. On the other hand, the sharp demand for order fulfilment and shipment can be a daunting and stressful notion.
To calm your nerves before the holiday rush, check out this Holiday Rush Shipping Guide and prep your business for Shipageddon.
What is Shipageddon?
No, Shipageddon does not refer to a dramatic apocalyptic battle of good VS evil. Rather, it is the apt name given to the expected chaotic shipping conditions of the months leading up to the holiday period.
The term was coined by Jason Goldberg, the chief commerce strategy officer at Publicis. It insinuated that the pandemic, combined with the significantly increased demand in online shopping, would create significant disruptions in supply chains during the months before the holidays. And, of course, as it’s a newspaper, there may be a hint of sensationalism thrown in there too.
Increased shipping times from heavier workloads inevitably lead to a rise in costs. These costs can be damaging for businesses across the supply chain. Hence, Shipageddon is likened to a doomsday scenario, even if it’s a little theatrical.
It is vital to streamline business shipping to avoid potential disasters during the holiday rush.
Key days for the holiday rush
Naturally, in the run-up to the holidays, there are key days that impact consumer spending. These are:
Halloween: The nights are drawing in, and the descent into winter looms. As people buy candy, costumes, and decorations, retailers will see an increased demand. Furthermore, Klarna found that 59% of Australian and New Zealand consumers intended to start their holiday gift shopping before December, with 20% starting as early as September.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday: For consumers, Black Friday is a time when they can find great holiday deals. For businesses, though, Black Friday means something else. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are when more people are buying, and to fully optimise this opportunity, businesses need to plan ahead and strategise.
Green Monday: Coined by eBay in 2007, Green Monday falls on the second Monday of December. Initially, it was used to describe the best sales eBay had to offer its customers. Since then, other retailers have adopted the term. It has become another way of persuading consumers to buy goods through enticing deals.
The New Year: The new year is not a time for retailers to rest. Businesses need to prepare for the influx of returns. Retailers also need to be wary of fraudulent chargeback activity.
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How to prepare for Shipaggedon
It’s never too early to prep for Shipageddon. Take the following steps to ensure your business is holiday-ready:
1. Plan, plan, and plan some more
To navigate the holiday rush with minimal disruptions, it’s essential to plan as much as you can. To do this, note all your planned seasonal offers, discounts, and special holiday promotions.
- How you will communicate these with your customers
- How many of each promotional product you expect to sell
- How you will fulfil these orders
- Your budget to accommodate the increased demand
- How you will manage out-of-stock items
- Cut-off dates for deliveries
To maximize the amount of interest in your sales during these intense shopping seasons, you will need to promote them. You can do this through email marketing, social media messages, or writing about them on your blog. The benefits of using a blog to communicate with your potential customers are that you can provide links to your website, increasing the traffic and sometimes sales you get. It’s also great to update your customers with news about your business. Plus, all your content can later be repurposed on your social media accounts.
Use existing data to predict future stock levels. Suppose you use iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service). In that case, you can integrate all your data from different sources into one centralized platform, which will increase productivity, be more time and cost-effective, and help reduce your system’s complexity.
You should also have a contingency plan for what to do if you encounter any problems, particularly in the supply chain.
What is a supply chain? It is a purchase process from start to finish, from sourcing the raw materials to delivering the finished product to the customer.
If there are delays in processing orders due to high demand, ensure that you can deal with potential problems quickly and efficiently.
2. Stock up in advance
Consistently low or out-of-stock levels could negatively impact your business’s reputation. To avoid this, stock up on products you predict will sell well.
Furthermore, stock up on packaging, labels, and other shipping materials. Do this early in the year to avoid possible dynamic pricing surges when demand increases.
A great tip here is to use seasonal packaging and wrapping. Your customers will appreciate the special touch that went into their purchases and will connect your brand with that festive feeling.
3. Hire extra staff
Consider hiring some seasonal staff to keep up with your holiday sales. This will ease the workload of your current workforce, making them happier and more productive.
When customers shop online, it’s always a good idea to make the process as quick and easy as possible. Therefore, hiring extra staff will help you to tackle arising challenges.
4. Customer-centric options
Consider innovative ways to improve customer experience. Click-and-collect, for example, is convenient for customers and helps ease the workload of delivery drivers. This also speeds up the delivery process for home deliveries.
Reach out to your customers to let them know what they can expect from you during the holidays. Aim to optimize customer satisfaction.
For example, live chat boxes and business phone numbers, are great tools for answering customer queries. These may help boost your sales.
5. Store inventory across different warehouses
A great tip for coping with high holiday demand is to store your inventory in multiple warehouses across the country. This will make it quicker for your products to be transported from point A to point B.
Doing so may also decrease your costs as there is less distance for the delivery drivers to travel. Be strategic about which warehouses and fulfilment centres you choose for your inventory.
6. Determine how you will manage returns
A recent report by NRF states that 2021 saw $218 billion of online products returned to their retailers. The same report also shows that retailers lose $10.30 out of every $100 to fraudulently-returned merchandise.
Conduct market research to see how your competitors handle their returns during the holiday season. Calculate potential losses and use the data to determine a reasonable returns policy for your customers and your business. Consider using technology such as a call routing service to help manage post-holiday returns.
7. Review after the holidays to prepare for next year
The mad rush might be over, but it’s not time for a breather yet. Use tools and software to review your holiday processes. Look at what went exceptionally well and work on improvements for next year. Whether you make your own goods or buy them from a vendor via a reseller certificate, there is always room for improvement when it comes to online retail.
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The important thing to do during the reviewing process is to learn from what you have done (both the good and the bad). This way, you can prepare for online sales days effectively.
It is never too early to prepare!
The holiday season rush may feel like it’s going to be months of chaos for your business and staff. However, with proper planning and strategies in place, you can be well-equipped for Shipageddon and all the challenges it brings