You don’t need us to tell you that the holiday season is one of the most stressful and busiest shipping seasons of the year. However, we can help! ShippingEasy and ChannelAdvisor recently hosted an SMB Holiday Checklist webinar with advice on how to handle the upcoming holiday season.
Be Present in Your Online Presence
Last year showed the importance of making your small business really shine online. A recent ShippingEasy study showed 85% of consumers spent more in 2020 with small, local, and independent businesses to show their support than pre-COVID. Customers want to support your business, so let us help you support your customers, and you’ll have a better chance of gifts from your shop being placed in the stockings hung by the chimney with care.
Social Media Presence is Necessary
For customers to purchase from your store, it is important to be on social media. Take the time to engage with your current and prospective customers on social media platforms. You don’t have to be everywhere, but you do need to be where your customers are.
Highlight Unique Products
Your customers are not only seeking you out because your products are special but because they want to help small businesses. Let prospective customers see why your product is different to remind them why they’re shopping with you and not a large chain. You can even ask your customers for photos of these products to post to your page. When you push the products that stand out, your business will stand out, leading to more customers and more exposure for your business.
Start Asking for Reviews Now
If you start requesting customer reviews before the holiday season peaks, your customers will already know how and where to leave those reviews. Remember to ask for genuine and sincere feedback. If your customers feel heard, and you take these reviews into consideration, you’ll establish a great line of trust with your customers. Don’t ask for good reviews, ask for honest reviews. Give your customers the opportunity to provide genuine feedback and take their responses into consideration.
Personalize Your Content and Create an In-Store Atmosphere
With small businesses, you have the benefit of knowing your mission, your tone, and more than likely, your employees. Whether you’re sending out mailers or launching your website, including photos of your business and your staff is a great way to make your customer feel like they’re shopping in-store. You may not have a physical store or multiple locations, but it doesn’t mean you can’t create the atmosphere of a storefront.
Share any obstacles or hardships your business has overcome. Personalizing your content with Customer Marketing can really give your business an advantage over a larger business because customers feel a connection to you, making them more likely to purchase something from your store. Personal touches can really go a long way for your business, especially during the holidays.
71% of consumers say their experience with small businesses in 2020 has made them more likely to be a repeat customer this year 🛍️
— ShippingEasy (@ShippingEasy) November 22, 2021
Communicate with Your Customers
This may sound like a given, but it’s essential to communicate your return policies and any shipping delays efficiently and effectively while also giving them a personalized touch with your email outreach. Whether it be a creative email or simply outlining your return policy or shipping delays, you can use these pointers to spread cheer and good customer service this holiday season.
Be Proactive about Delays
If you receive any messages from your carriers, or there are delays in your shipping, be sure to communicate those out to your customers as soon as possible. It not only shows your customers you’re dependable, but they’ll definitely appreciate the notice. In addition, check the specific time frames associated with your marketplace to avoid any penalties from those sites as well. If you aren’t sure of those specific time frames, reach out to your marketplace directly for more information.
ShippingEasy also makes it easier for your customers to track their shipments because several of our store integrations send tracking information back to the store, so you don’t have to manually upload this information for your customers. This means with eligible stores, they’ll get their tracking information faster. For more information on which integrations have this capability, select the name of the integration in our guide or contact Support.
Be Fully Transparent with Your Return Policy
A recent study shows 49% of consumers abandon their cart because of additional charges that weren’t clearly communicated on a site. As we mention in the webinar, you cannot over-communicate your return policy. Clearly state your return policy and have it easily found. The customer trying to return this gift may not be the same one who purchased it, so it needs to be readily available. It’s also great customer service because your customers know at the time of purchase exactly what to expect if they do have to reach out for a return. If your return policy is clear, concise, and visible, that means you’re making for happy customers and happy holidays.
Emails are Essential
As we’ve been saying, adding those creative touches to your website and social media is a great way to draw in new customers and maintain relationships with your existing customers. Emails are another fantastic opportunity to get creative and really illustrate your business’s brand. Our Branded Tracking feature is free throughout the holiday season, and something as simple as adding your business’s color scheme and return policy to confirmation emails is a great place to start.
If you have our Customer Marketing add-on, you have even more opportunities for email outreach. You can create a campaign for customers who haven’t purchased from your store recently (we recommend within 90-120 days). Don’t be afraid to be bold and unique when you’re reaching out to these customers to try to win them back!
Email subject lines like this one in the example above will make you really stand out and make it more likely for your email to actually be opened. In the same way, don’t be afraid to add a personal touch to all of your email correspondence. This is also a great time to start testing your holiday emails to find your rhythm. Don’t create marketing campaigns to simply send out, but you can start researching your clickthrough rate to see when emails are getting the most attention and which emails are getting the most attention to better plan out your holiday emailing schedule.
What to Expect during Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Big Shopping Days
We’ve talked a lot about the prep work for the holiday season, but what kind of traffic should you expect from this holiday season?
Cyber Monday is becoming increasingly popular, so your online presence is extremely important. It also means your shipping volume will continue to increase during this holiday season, and it will also increase earlier in the holiday season. We understand how challenging it can be to run your business, get your packages shipped out, and try to boost your email outreach. That’s where we come in!
How Can ShippingEasy Help?
ShippingEasy gives you access to commercial USPS rates, discounted rates with UPS One Balance, and cubic rates. Commercial USPS rates are hard to negotiate on your own, but these rates are available to our subscribers. We also have the option for cubic rates for smaller packages. These discounts can really add up during the holiday season and save you money in the long run.
Shipping Rules and Presets
Saving time is essential during the holiday season, ShippingEasy gives you the option for various shipping rules and presets that can’t trim your tree but can trim down your shipping preparation time. One example is product tags, which can be used to filter products and customize shipping preferences. We make it easy to add signature confirmations to eligible packages with those shipping rules as well. (If you are going to use signature confirmations, we do recommend notifying your customers at the time of purchase so they know they have to sign for their packages).
With several of our store integrations, we send tracking information back to the store so that you don’t have to take the time to manually upload all of the tracking information for your shipments. For more information on which integrations have this capability, select the name of the integration in our guide or contact Support.
Want to learn more about how to set your SMB up for success this holiday season?
Download The Ultimate SMB Checklist for exclusive data on the shift in how consumer’s buyer behavior as a result of the pandemic, an actionable (and printable!) holiday prep checklist, and insight from leading industry experts.