Every e-commerce merchant knows the holiday season is just around the corner. What some may not be aware of is the number of days in the 2019 holiday shopping season from Thanksgiving to Christmas Day is six fewer than last year. You need to be prepared to help customers who will be in a mad dash to finish their shopping in time for on-time delivery this holiday season. Here are a few considerations to note and some strategies to help you and your customers have a successful shopping season.
You need to do more in less time
Even with the shorter timeframe, National Retail Federation (NRF) expects holiday retail sales during the holiday shopping season to increase up to 4.2 percent over 2018. Total spending is expected to reach between $727.9 billion and $730.7 billion. That’s a ton of potential business to accommodate for.
That means you’ll need to rely on automation to cut down the time you spend managing various parts of your business. Shipping automation, shipping presets, and batch printing will allow you to keep up with the rush of orders. In fact, the amount of time we see come customers save allows them to reallocate resources from shipping to other areas of the business.
“Processing orders previously took us half a day, and now takes minutes. That allows me to shift focus to email marketing that builds repeat business from our customers.” —Jamie Goldach, Closeout Industries
We recently partnered with Ecwid and 3M on a webinar that breaks down ways to not only increase holiday sales, but streamline processes while setting your business up for repeat business. You can watch the replay below.
Procrastinators will need expedited shipping
It happens every year. Even though people know the holidays are coming, they procrastinate until the last minute on their holiday shopping, which means they have to pay extra on expedited shipping. Though 34% of people say they will begin their research earlier, 16% shop more often with retailers that offer expedited shipping.
This is where it pays for you as an e-commerce merchant to have multicarrier options. When someone needs expedited shipping, you can cater to their last-minute needs with Priority Mail Express, FedEx 2nd Day, and UPS 2nd Day Air. A multicarrier shipping approach using a shipping platform like ShippingEasy allows you to quickly compare rates across carriers based on the destination, delivery window, and cost-effectiveness. You can choose the best option and possibly help save your bottom line a bit.
Make sure you know the shipping deadlines for the three major carriers. This calendar will help!
Efficiency in your processes is going to be key for success this holiday season. That doesn’t just apply to your shipping, however.
You still need to focus on the long term
Even with the heightened sense of urgency that comes with a shorter shopping season, you still need to be thinking about how to keep customers around for the long haul. It’s easy to get caught up in “just trying to get through the holidays.” It’s the busiest time of year, but you still need to focus on what comes next.
This is where using your customer data, order data, and shipment data can create efficiency to automate opportunities for repeat business. Those important data points should be feeding into automated email campaigns that bring your customers back for more, encourage them to write reviews, and lead them further down the customer journey toward advocacy.
Let’s look at an example of how this could work.
Bob loves coffee. He found Groovee Coffee during the holiday season last year and fell in love with their java. Gabi, the owner of Groovee Coffee, has set up automation and one-time email campaigns based on Bob’s shopping habits to keep him engaged with her company and make sure he is always stocked up on coffee.
- Buy-it-again reminders – Gabi knows her product lifecycle and has a general idea of when her customers should probably start getting low on their favorite brews. She has automated email reminders go out just at the time Bob will be thinking about reordering to help make sure he reorders from Groovee Coffee, complete with a link right back to the product he purchased.
- Product review campaigns – New customers want to hear the input of other customers to help them make decisions. Because of that, Gabi has set up email campaigns to automatically go out a week after the delivery of her coffee products. This gives her customers ample time to decide if they like the coffee and offer an informed opinion, while still feeling relevant and timely.
- Feedback campaigns – Individual product reviews are great, but people also want to know what it’s like to do business with a company. Who better to request that feedback from than your VIP customers? Once per quarter, Gabi creates a segmented list of customers who’ve ordered 10 times from Groovee Coffee and sends them an email thanking them for being such a VIP. She also requests that they share their experience in a review or Facebook Recommendation on her business’s Facebook page. She’s not only building loyalty by tapping into her best customers, but she’s also encouraging word of mouth feedback that is likely to be positive, which can increase sales further down the line.
- Signup forms – While people are perusing her Facebook page, she also links to a signup form allowing them to opt in to receive emails from Groovee Coffee. She can then offer them coupons, promotions, and build her list organically while putting all the data together (and she does all of this in ShippingEasy!).
Much of this runs on autopilot in the background so Gabi can focus on her busy holiday season. She’s also setting her business up for long term success at the same time. All this without stressing about the fact that there are six fewer shopping days to take advantage of because she’s already looking forward to the repeat business she’s fostering.
You can set yourself up for success by trying the ShippingEasy platform—including shipping automation, the best rates, an email marketing platform, and inventory management—absolutely FREE for 30 days. Click below to get set up before the holiday season fully hits!