The holiday season is a busy time for retailers, and with the rise in online shopping, it is crucial for businesses to have a plan to handle spikes in online orders. The holiday rush can bring about a surge in orders, and if you are not prepared, it could lead to delays, dissatisfied customers, and, ultimately, a loss in later potential sales. Here are some tips on how to handle the increase in online orders during the holidays.

1. Plan ahead:

Planning ahead is key when it comes to handling the increase in online orders during the holidays. You need to have a plan to ensure that you have enough stock, packaging supplies, and shipping materials. Personnel is also crucial to handling the chaos, and your website and e-commerce platforms must also be up to date-and ready to handle increased traffic.

Packaging supplies and shipping materials are critical components of your plan. You need to have enough boxes, packing materials, labels, and other supplies to handle the increase in orders. Consider outsourcing your packaging and shipping to a third-party logistics provider (3PL) if you don’t have the resources to handle it in-house.

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Another crucial aspect of planning ahead is staffing. You need to ensure that you have enough personnel to handle the increase in orders, from processing and packing to customer service and fulfilment. Consider hiring temporary staff or working with a staffing agency to meet your needs.

2. Communicate with customers

Communication is essential during the holiday season. According to a survey conducted by Deloitte in 2022, 63% of holiday shoppers expect to purchase items online, similar to prior years. As such, keeping customers informed about their order status, shipping times, and any possible delays is important. This will help manage their expectations and reduce the number of inquiries and complaints. You can set up automated email or text notifications to keep customers informed, and you can provide tracking numbers so they can follow their orders independently.

Implementing automated email or text notifications is an incredibly effective way to keep customers informed. Studies have found automated emails have an open rate of 119%, higher than non-automated emails. Furthermore, providing tracking numbers can help customers keep track of their orders and reduce the number of inquiries to customer support.

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To boot, our studies have found that 56% of customers take into account having tracking information when it comes to who they decide to shop with. This means providing tracking information also has a direct relationship with long-term customer retention.

By effectively communicating with customers and providing order updates and tracking information, businesses can manage customer expectations and reduce the number of inquiries and complaints. This can lead to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty, ultimately benefiting the business in the long run.

3. Offer discounts and promotions

Offering discounts and promotions are a great way to attract customers and increase sales during the holiday season. Consider offering free shipping, special holiday discounts, or bundled deals. This can encourage customers to shop more and help you clear out excess inventory. A survey conducted by RetailMeNot found that 70% of millennial consumers will search for discounts and promotions before making a purchase.

Bundled deals can be an effective way to clear out excess inventory and keep sales up. In fact, studies have found that 93% of consumers say that they have purchased a bundle at least once and that 66% of consumers said Buy One, Get One Free deal are their go-to.

By understanding the preferences and behaviours of holiday shoppers, businesses can create effective promotions that resonate with their customers and ultimately drive up sales.

4. Optimise your website

Your website is your storefront, and it needs to be optimised to handle the increase in traffic during the holiday season. Studies have found 92% of customers are more likely to buy from you again if the returns process is smooth. Make sure your website is user-friendly, easy to navigate, and can handle the influx of orders. Optimise your website for mobile devices, as more and more consumers are using their mobile phones to shop online. The example below shows ways using Easter as a way to promote sales and different deals on your website.

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According to a study by Google, 53% of mobile website visitors will leave a site that takes longer than three seconds to load. Additionally, a survey by Businesswire found that 67% of consumers plan to use their mobile devices to shop during the holiday season.

Outsource your shipping and fulfilment

If you cannot handle the increase in orders, consider outsourcing your shipping and fulfilment to a third-party logistics provider (3PL). A 3PL can handle your order processing, packing, and shipping, allowing you to focus on other aspects of your business.

One of the benefits of outsourcing to a 3PL is improved customer service. According to a Third Party Logistics survey, 71% of 3PL users reported improved customer service after employing the services of a 3PL, and 92% of those reported that using a 3PL led to new, innovative ways to improve logistics effectiveness.

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Handling the increase in online orders during the holidays requires careful planning, communication, and system optimisation. By following these tips, you can ensure that your business is ready to handle the holiday rush, and to provide a positive shopping experience for your customers. Remember, happy customers are more likely to return and to refer others, so make sure you provide a seamless and enjoyable holiday shopping experience.